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So I just found my 2004 VW Golf parked on my street with a flat tire. Tried to change it and the tire kit is missing the safety lug nut key apparently :( Auto parts place won't sell me they key, and neither will the VW dealer. Dealer told me if I can get the car to them they can replace it. What's the point of a spare tire then? Its about 1.7 mile to the dealer, tire is completely flat.

What are my options? Will AAA be able to remove a safety lug nut?

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  • Did you check in the glove box? some owners leave it there...
    – Solar Mike
    May 7, 2021 at 14:57
  • Not in there, unfortunately. I am the owner :) May 7, 2021 at 15:01
  • Other than searching in the car , the dealer is the only source I know. I replaced mine , fortunately the car was still drivable and I was able to drive to the dealer. The parts guy had to come out to the car with a box of lugs to find the correct one. May 7, 2021 at 16:34
  • A pin sheared off the locking nut socket one time when I needed to change a flat. The breakdown service came out, and it took them about an hour to release the wheel bolt using blunt tools and hammers. May 7, 2021 at 18:08
  • I have a half-inch drive set of impact sockets. I find a size that just fits over the round nut, then I pick the next smaller size. I hammer it onto the locking nut, even a quarter inch is OK. Now use a ratchet or breaker bar to remove it. As soon as the nut is loose, tap the socket to remove it. Have a new set ready so you can take off (and dispose) all 4 locking nuts.
    – John Canon
    May 12, 2021 at 4:46

4 Answers 4

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This happens occasionally. You can purchase a kit to remove the locking lug nut.

https://www.amazon.com/Wheel-Lock-Removal-Kit/s?k=Wheel+Lock+Removal+Kit

There are lots of different types here. Typically you use a sledge hammer to place the removal tool over the top of the locking lug nut. Then use an air hammer lug wrench to remove it. The obvious alternative is to hire a tow truck to bring the car to a repair shop that already has those tools.

Note, depending on the wheel shape, and the type of locking lug nut, it might be possible to use a simple ball peen hammer and cold chisel to remove the lug. You need plenty of clearance room. I've removed truck tires on deep mag wheels that way, but I was pretty careful. Took a long while, but it worked. But newer wheels don't really have that easy access shape. I'm assuming your rims are cast aluminum and not stamped steel.

Good luck with the repair.

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Chances are the reason they won't sell you one is that they simply don't know which one you need, hence their asking you to take it to them, so they can compare to find the right key.

Another option might be to get a single use universal key - I suspect these aren't available to consumers, but a local tyre dealer might have them. Effectively they're a key made of a much softer metal that is hammered onto the nut and forms the right shape as it does so, allowing you to remove the nut. It does damage the nut though, so you'll then need to get a new set - which will come with a reference number in case you ever need another new key!

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The special lug nut is an anti-theft device, to prevent your tire from being stolen by anyone with basic hand tools. There are many different shapes, you have to know the code to buy a replacement, otherwise anyone could buy one and steal your tire.

As for getting going try re-inflating the tire, if it's a slow leak you may be able to do a short drive. If it won't inflate you can get a bottle of quick fix style instant tire repair which comes in an aerosol can, this stuff has gunk which can plug some holes, and gas to pump up your tire. Keep in mind the tire can't be repaired afterwards, and the gas in the tire is flammable so needs to be deflated with care.

You could also call a mobile tire service if they exist in your area to see if they could get it off for you.

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This is a bit old, but as someone who has owned 3 Jettas and 3 Passats (2003 and newer), I feel I'm reasonably knowledgeable on this topic.

VW uses 4 standard hex-head lug nuts and one inner-splined lug nut as a theft prevention method. The splined nut is not locking (i.e. it doesn't require a unique key). However, depending on generation, they use anywhere from 13 to 19 splines (I believe that's the range). This is one of the reasons the dealer wanted you to bring it in. (Mostly, they probably wanted to bill you for the service - they probably could have told you exactly what spline count you needed from the VIN.)

A quick internet search will tell you the number of splines used on the (OEM - no accounting for aftermarket replacement) lug nuts on your year/model VW. Then, head to a local auto parts store or your favorite online behemoth and pick up a single lug key, or a set of lug keys with multiple spline counts. A search for "vw jetta lug nut key spline" returns many results on the river shopping site, and I'm sure it will return similar results at other sites.

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