So of course, I seem to have lost the key to my locking lug nuts. I'd like to be proactive about the situation and remedy it before I have a flat on the side of the road. I've read several guides that say "Just jam a socket on it and hit it with a hammer", but mine being perfectly round I don't think that will work. Is there a trick or tool I can use to get these off?

For reference, this is basically the same structure as mine, except that my lugs are "female" while this is "male"

enter image description here

  • I would think a plumber's pipe wrench would be able to get them off. Sep 30, 2016 at 22:21
  • That is indeed "the trick". Use a twelve point socket that's slightly (or way) too small; works every time (if it didn't, you should've used a blowtorch first). "Locks only keep honest people out."
    – Mazura
    Oct 1, 2016 at 1:34
  • "mine being perfectly round I don't think that will work" - That's precisely why it does work. Round peg in the square hole + hammer = not coming apart ever again. You will need an exceptionally long breaker bar, though. These things are stupid. I implore you to either try this method, or just don't buy these again (you'll understand why as soon as you learn that you can use a $2 socket to circumvent these "security features"). The only person that these are preventing from removing your tires is you.
    – Mazura
    Oct 1, 2016 at 2:14
  • Does the round, outer part, spin?
    – dlu
    Oct 1, 2016 at 17:01

4 Answers 4


There are sockets designed specifically for this job. Here is an example of one; they have a reverse thread on them and are made of hardened material so as you turn them anti-clockwise, they tighten themselves over the locked wheel nut until they are fully tight and the nut begins to loosen.

They are made by most tool manufacturers and available from most tool and auto shops.

enter image description here

  • Can these these things be applied with an impact gun? I don't think I can muster the hand force to thread steel by myself.
    – Sidney
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:32
  • 1
    You can get then in 1/2 in drive so I don't see why not. Either that or a breaker bar. I'd be a bit careful of gunning them too hard to begin with to avoid damaging them but once they're snuggly on, I'm sure you can give it the beans with the gun. Sep 30, 2016 at 15:49
  • 4
    @ducatikiller great edit. Although the post was a bit more humorous before the edit.
    – Kevin
    Sep 30, 2016 at 18:37
  • Are these reusable, and how do they compare in price to a plain old sacrificial socket?
    – Mazura
    Oct 1, 2016 at 1:53
  • I've also seen sockets with a v shaped inside with a slight twist. I'd suspect you could also slot cut the lug with something like a dremel and then use a large screwdriver socket. Oct 1, 2016 at 3:21

Weld a new (cheap) nut onto the rounded one and use a regular socket to remove them both together

  • that was my first thought too. although i thought "jb weld" Sep 30, 2016 at 21:26
  • This is step two (assuming you have-and-can weld), after having split the 12p socket while attempting the 'standard way' of removing these.
    – Mazura
    Oct 1, 2016 at 1:45

These are usually made by a company like McGard. Our dealership has a master set you can use to identify the correct key, which you can then purchase for around $30.

  • All McGard nuts come with a code in the packaging. When you purchase your lock nuts keep a note of the code. If you ever find yourself in this situation you can go to McGard directly and purchase a key to match your code
    – Darren H
    Oct 1, 2016 at 7:32

I guess your best chance would be to visit the dealer. These things are made to go of only with the right socket

  • I've never been defeated by a tamper-proof fastener. The OP didn't even try...
    – Mazura
    Oct 1, 2016 at 1:42
  • Didn't even try what? I know there is hardware to do this (I actually picked it up yesterday from Steve's answer), and will be doing it this afternoon.
    – Sidney
    Oct 1, 2016 at 16:55
  • @Sidney - [I've read several guides that say "Just jam a socket on it and hit it with a hammer"] - That's easier said than done, but it really is that simple.
    – Mazura
    Oct 4, 2016 at 22:13

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