You can slim jim most cars, but I think it's a lot harder to get wheel
And the point is to stop the average lunkhead, not to stop the most
well equipped, who won't go after 180 dollar wheels, but will want to
take apart a 100G car they have stolen, and sell all the parts.
I was washing my car at a do-it-yourself car wash in Indiana several
years ago, on Xmas, and I locked my keys in the car. I found a
convenience store only 30 yars away and was asking her for a wire
hanger, and a guy in the store offered to open the door for me.
Tunred out he was a pro locksmith. Not only did he have the slim
jim but an assorment of tools to pry the rubber away from the window a
little bit to make it easier to use the slim jim. It took him from 5
to 10 minutes and he woudln't accept money, because it was Xmas.
Anyhow, if you need to break into your car this way, use the passenger
door or the rear door. A friend locked himslef out and the
small-town police came and did it for free, but the mechanism got
diconnected in the process and he had to climb over the console for
the rest of the day until we got to my house and I took apart the door
and reconnected things.
You can be 100% certain your wheels DO have lug nuts; they are just covered
up to make the wheel look prettier. Lug nuts have been required by law
since 1968 (no I'm not kidding).
If you look closely, you'll probably find there's a plastic cover on the
face of the wheel. This hides the lug nuts.
Your Owner's Manual will give this information in great detail, complete
with diagrams and instructions on how to get the cover off.
What kind of car is this, anyway?
You need to be concerned about the wheels falling off. Without lug
nuts, there is usually nothing to hold them on. :(
All of the nuts that go on the studs are lug nuts, whether they use a
key of whatever sort or just a regular lug wrench or jack handle. But
some have either key locks or unsuaal shapes, which they also call a
key. I had a set of unusual shapes, and I worried that I would lose
the "key", but I think the set came with two. Then I had a flat tire
and had a hard time engagine the key into the lug nut, and it wasn't
even wet, and I figured next time it may be cold and raining and it
may be much harder to do if the nut is wet and slippery, and I took
them off. I see my next door neighbor has one on each wheel.
ON the other hand, way back in high school in 1964, in a suburban
school district with no crime to speak of, a friend drove to school
sometimes and one day his car would start but woudln't move. He found
that it was jacked up and the rear axle was resting on a box and the
wheel/tire was gone. This guy and his parents had only enough money
to live nicely on, and didn't splurge on mag wheels or anything. It
was probably a Chevy. I don't know why it was stolen. We didn't even
have fistfights in this school.
Bub is right that it depends on a lot of things whether you need wheel
locks, where you park it, how busy it is there, how special your
wheels are. Are wheels still a popular item for theft. I've driven a
convertible for 42 years (not the same one) and slashing tops used to
be popular, and indeed, my top was slashed once (I patched it and then
in the rough n'hood I lived in, they would push open the patch and
unlock the door and steal it if I left anything at all in the car.
But then convertibles became much less common, and not only did the
manufacturers forget that you can't use a day/night mirror in a
convertible, but the criminals seemed to have forgotten how much fun
it is to slash tops. It's a piece of Americana, of folkways that
seems not to have been passed down to the latest generation of
criminals. We may be losing our heritage, but I like it. Now
convertble tops became uncommon, but for some reason that never
happened to wheels. But still, how common is it these days for wheels
to be stolen?
What kind of car do you have. How much was the sticker price for the
99+% of cars used lugnuts from 1945's or earlier until 1968 and
afterwards. Are you saying they outlawed for street use the one big
nut in the middle, that one hit with a wrench to spin on or off,
instead of 4 or 5 in a circle? What do you call that?
I recently bought a couple of tires at Walmart. I watched the technician
re-mount the tires and asked if he was done. "No," he said, "I've got to get
the manager to re-torque on the lugs and sign-off on the job. Walmart
doesn't want you to drive out of here and have your nuts fall off."
Presently the manager appeared with a torque wrench.
Click-click-clickety-click, followed by: "Your nuts are good to go!"
I think it's a wise move to have another employee double-check a safety
Plus, here's a story from just today about how Walmart is involved in the
fight to keep nuts from falling off.
I"m impressed that they don't just use an air wrench to put them on
tigher than I can get them off. One time I had to drive a half mile
to a tire store, on a flat, because even standing on the lug wrench,
the bolts wouldn't ocme off. And girls have even more trouble, when
I think a normal girl more than 5'5" ought to be able to remove a tire
when the lug nuts are tightened by hand, but not if done by an air
Does any other chain use a manual torque wrench?
The air wrench guys are supposed to use calibrated 'torque sticks'
between the wrench and the socket. Discount Tire does- they have a row
on the wall, all color coded. Like the clutch on a cordless drill, they
only let the nut tighten so far.
And those sticks are calibrated for a particular output by the air ratchet.
If the rattle gun is out of spec or set too high, or the wrong gun is used,
the torque stick will happily allow (sometimes severe) overtorque on the
This is why you can end up with four or five wheel nuts all requiring
vastly different levels of removal effort by you the next time you have to
A manual torque wrench, properly operated, is the only way to go for final
It's been a long time since I've had a tire put on by anyone, hmmm,
except the guys I buy used tires, who do use air wrenches. I don't
know if they are decently calibrated, because I think they are also
the only ones who have taken off my wheels. Wait, once I took off a
wheel to replace a left tie-rod end. It came off okay, after the
tire guys had put it on.
That's for the past 7 years. It's hard to remember the previous car.
Maybe the last few years were like these years.
I'm not sure about chain store policies. I've seen some
"torque limiters" which come in different colors. I've taken
to carrying a 25 inch breaker bar, and a couple of sockets
with me. The criss cross lug wrenches help, but not everyone
I still have a habit of carrying a bit of hollow steel pipe in my
vehicles that'll slide over the end of the lug wrench - makes life really
easy if stuck at the side of the road in the cold and wet with a flat.
I actually bent a 2' long, 5/8" wide wrench in getting the wheel nuts off
my wife's car (first time I'd pulled them off after she'd bought it)
because they'd been put on so darn tight :-(
The torque extender. An old trick, but still very useful.
Most factory supplied lug wrenches just aren't long enough
to be useful. Hollow steel pipe works better than solid
steel pipe with no hole in the middle.
The four way wrenches, sometimes called star wrenches. Work
nicely for me. I lean my left side against the vehicle. Put
my left foot on the left side of the wrench, push down. Pull
up on the right side, with one or both hands. Seems to
provide some extra torque.
I bent the standard 1960's GM lugwrench once, with my bare hands
(while it was attached to a lugnut). It didn't work well after that,
but it was more than made up for by the boost to my ego.
On Wed, 16 Sep 2009 09:22:34 -0400, "Stormin Mormon" wrote:
Actually, solid pipe was invented over 100 years before hollow pipe.
It was intended for water supply but did not work. Four generations of
the Pluterchius family worked on improving it, until the next to
youngest great-grandson, Minimus Plutarchius, invented the hole.
He was apparently an idiot savant, because he was a failure in school
and in other career endeavours. He was dependent on his father for
support, and later on his brothers. His father had earned a modest
income from royalties on the solid pipe, and Minimus might have
received much larger royalties for his pipe improvement, but he was
overly impressed by himself after his invention, and thought he could
also handle the related legal issues. So instead of consulting with
his brothers, he tried to do things on his own, and ended up getting
nothing. He spent the rest of his life depending on the loyalty of his
brothers for income.
Les Schwab outlets (NW company) does it, air wrench and then manual
torque. I have to call them to change a flat as even with a cruciform
lug wrench I can't budge them. Last flat they had even cross
trhreaded one lug nut and the lug had to broken off to get the wheel
off. No apologies from the company when I complained and pointed out
that carrying a spare was pointless if they were going to torque them
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