My locking wheel nut key was stolen — how can I get a replacement?

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Car Clinic - locking wheel nut key stolen, what can I do?

Q. I recently had my locking wheel nut key stolen (along with a small quantity of money) while I was unloading my Mercedes. My efforts to obtain a new key at a dealership failed, as it believes the wheels are not original Mercedes ones. How can I find out what company made them in order to get a new key made?

RL, Shrewsbury


A. The maker’s name will be marked on the wheel, but usually on the inside, so you would need to remove one of the wheels to identify it. This will mean destroying the nuts on that wheel (in fact your car uses bolts, not nuts, but the principle is the same), so the simplest solution might be to have new bolts put on all the wheels, to which you will have the key.

The destruction of the nuts/bolts is accomplished by a locking-nut removal tool, a socket made of hardened steel that has a very sharp left-hand thread cut into the inside. It is placed over the end of a nut or bolt and then turned anticlockwise.

The thread cuts deep until it grips firmly enough to start to turn the nut. Some garages will have this tool, but your best chance of finding one is at a tyre-replacement business, so phone around.

Once a mechanic has removed the locking bolts on one of your wheels, they will take it off to find the maker’s name. If it’s an alloy, it’s probably on one of the “spokes” or the solid centre section. The mechanic will then be able to advise you on the correct length, diameter and profile of the replacement bolts, and may be able to fit new ones there and then. TS

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Tim Shalcross, advance driving advice

Tim Shallcross used to train AA patrols to fix cars. Now he advises the Institute of Advanced Motoring – read more from Tim here.

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