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How to get wheel locks off without a key

Updated July 20, 2017

Wheel locks, or locking lug nuts, are common aftermarket items that provide an extra measure of security for an automobile. Since a key is required to remove them, car owners with expensive tires and rims gain piece of mind knowing that these parts cannot be easily stolen. It can be incredibly frustrating, however, when the time comes to change a tire and the key cannot be found. In this situation, an alternative exists to using the key, but it may result in damaged or ruined hardware. Use this method only as a last resort.

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  1. Find a socket that is just big enough to fit tightly around the wheel lock.

  2. Hammer the socket onto the wheel lock as far as it will go.

  3. Set the parking brake on the automobile.

  4. Use a breaking bar to loosen the socket/wheel lock.

  5. Remove the wheel lock from the post. The rest of the lug nuts and the wheel can now be removed as well.

  6. Adjust the vice so that the edge of the socket will rest on the vice and allow the protruding wheel lock to hang down.

  7. Place a centre punch or other piece of metal in the hole of the socket so that it is in contact with the wheel lock.

  8. Hammer on the centre punch until the wheel lock falls out of the socket.

  9. Tip

    Since the socket will likely be ruined after this process, it is a good idea to use one with a lifetime guarantee so that it can be exchanged afterward.


    This information is provided to assist vehicle owners that cannot find their wheel lock key. It should never be used for any illegal activity.

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Things You'll Need

  • Twelve-point socket set
  • Breaker bar
  • Hammer
  • Vice
  • Center punch

About the Author

Eric Tosso

Eric Tosso began his professional writing career in 2010. He works as a freelance journalist based in the southeastern United States and enjoys writing about science, food, the arts and travel. Tosso holds a Master of Science in coastal marine and wetland studies from Coastal Carolina University and is pursuing a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Alabama.

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