04 Feb Locking wheel nuts, ‘chavs’, air guns and mega muscles
Locking wheel nuts are, in our eyes, no longer as important as they once were. Originally the vast majority of cars purchased had steel wheels fitted as standard. Unless you were able to push the boat out and buy a top end model or save your monthly allowance to buy those hideous aftermarket wheels you’ve seen in a car magazine, you would have had boring yet very practical steel wheels on your car.
This gave the opportunity for your local clan of ‘chavs’ to find cars with wheels that other people wanted, steal the wheels whilst leaving the car on some random, well placed bricks and then sell these wheels to the next boy racer who would have more than likely had the same wheels stolen only weeks later.
Locking wheel nuts stopped this practice as it was no longer easy to steal wheels and we all know that ‘chavs’ only do things that are easy!
Fast forward 20 years and even the bottom of the range, cheap run around cars come with reasonable looking alloy wheels. This has reduced the resale market for the now hard to pinch alloy wheels resulting in pretty much no body wasting their time stealing alloy wheels anymore.
The unfortunate by-product of this entire scenario is that our friendly car manufacturers now fit locking wheel nuts to our cars as standard.
Car wheels have certain, very specific torque settings that need to be adhered to ensure your wheels are tight enough to stay on the vehicle (very handy) but not so tight that they damage the hubs, break the bolts or cannot be removed. The torque settings are different for every car and even specific to each model. Most cars need to be tighten to somewhere between 85-140 newtons. Believe it or not, this is not much more than hand tight.
Tightening your wheels using an air gun can produce torque anywhere up to 1,000 newtons. Using your foot to push or even jump on a wheel brace to tighten your wheels, can produce upwards of 500 newtons of pressure. Even battery powered nut guns start at 440. Using mega muscles to over tighten your wheel nuts can be a lot more dangerous and a lot more expensive than doing it correctly.
Locking wheel nuts are designed for infrequent use and made to withstand the correct torque settings and applied pressure. In instances of mega muscles or your chosen service centre being lazy and unprofessional and using power and air tools, these locking wheel nuts will almost certainly break. The worst-case scenario of this is that you could need to change your wheel one night in the middle of nowhere and your locking wheel nut fail, leaving you stuck! The most likely outcome is that you will go to your tyre shop or mot station needing a tyre and the locking wheel nut will fail. You will then blame the garage and a responsibility stand-off will ensue. This will also lead to further expensive costs of replacing the locking nut bolt and finding a way to remove the now over tightened lock nut.
At A1 Tyres, we NEVER use anything other than hand tools to tighten wheel nuts. We use Autodata information to ensure we tighten every specific models wheels to the correct setting and only use calibrated professional torque wrenches that are then counter checked by a second work mate for verification and safety purposes. When you visit us, you will be able to see one of our Autodata information sheets displayed next to our machine and you can witness for yourself how frequently this is checked and double checked. You will also hear us shout seemingly random numbers at each other at regular intervals. This is us actively checking and verifying the specifics to ensure your safety and ultimately save you money in the long run.
The moral of this very long winded story is seemingly simple. Mega muscles and laziness leads to damage, danger, costs, arguments and issues for tyre fitters like us. We would recommend removing locking style wheel nuts all together but should you wish to keep them for peace of mind, please ensure that you do not over tighten these as broken, missing and damaged lock nut bolts are not our fault. We will try to help you as much as possible and advise you of any of our concerns and findings at all stages but as much as you shout and scream at us, the blame will almost always lay with someone with mega muscles, an air gun or a locking wheel nut hidden at home in a safe place.