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Esthetic and practical aspects of using wheel locks

Discussion in 'Model S' started by berkeley_ecar, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. berkeley_ecar

    berkeley_ecar S 90D (fully loaded) delivered 18 Mar 2017

    Jul 21, 2014
    I've purchased a set of Tesla wheel locks for use on my new Model S. The wheels are valuable and all too easy to steel. The locks are essentially lug nuts with a unique squiggly incised pattern on the end that requires use of a special wrench attachment. They are made by McGard, the same firm that made the locks I used for 31 years on my just-retired Volvo 745 GLE wagon. There are several issues involved in using these wheel locks, and I'd appreciate reading thoughts/insights on these matters with other owners:

    1) Practical: one needs to carry the small wrench attachment, and the code specifying the lock number, with the car. The lock code can be taped into the inside of the Quick Guide in the glove box, and/or inserted into an appropriate storage spot in your smartphone, for example. The wrench could be placed in a small labelled bag or box in the glovebox, or with other tools you keep in the car in an appropriate spot in the frunk or trunk, or hidden securely elsewhere on the vehicle.

    2) Esthetic: On the Volvo, the lug nuts are behind a small hub cap in the center of the wheel, and hence invisible. On the Tesla S, the chromed lug nuts are a visible and esthetic part of the wheel design. Covers may be in use on some models (it's unclear to me to which configurations this may apply). The appearance of the McGard locking lug nut is going to be somewhat jarring, although it also serves as a warning that stealing these wheels is going to involve extra work (though, if a determined potential thief reasons that the special wrench is likely to be stored in the car, that may involve breaking into the car itself -- hence hiding the wrench attachment cleverly may be useful in providing delay). It might be nice to have a matching log nut cover for the wheel lock (though that removes the warning value of seeing the lock), if such a cover is available. No easy compromises here...
  2. HankLloydRight

    HankLloydRight Fluxing

    Jan 18, 2014
    They've always been much more trouble than they're worth. The few times I have used them, it's easy to lose the wrench, the lug nuts break/rust, and just too much hassle trying to use them to change a wheel on the side of a highway. I don't use them at all anymore.

    Also, I've only been here since 2014, and don't remember hearing anyone getting their Tesla wheels stolen right off the car. The resale market is pretty small, so demand is low. It's probably not worth it to crooks to swipe the wheels.
    • Like x 1
  3. SomeJoe7777

    SomeJoe7777 Marginally-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2015
    Houston, TX
    Good wheel lock discussion thread here, and I posted a long post on page 3 that details 3 different types of locking lug nuts and 2 different types of regular lug nuts.

    So to give some feedback on your points:

    1. Practicality.

    When only driving around in town, I do not carry my locking lug nut key with me and it's not in the car. If I have a flat somewhere out in town, I can call a friend or get an Uber and get back to my house and get the key. Tesla's don't have a spare tire anyway, so you can't fix the flat wherever the car is stuck. You have to call someone and get a spare tire there regardless.

    When on road trips, then yes, I take the following with me to be able to repair a decent percentage of flat tire incidents myself:
    • Locking lug nut key
    • Tesla inflator/sealant unit
    • BlackJack patch kit
    This allows me to repair minor punctures and/or have road service do it.

    On longer road trips I also carry:
    • Floor jack
    • Wheel chocks
    • Ratchet
    • Torque wrench
    • Deep sockets
    This way I can take the wheel off if I need to patch a part of the tire that would be inaccessible otherwise.

    OK, so the other argument about practicality with wheel locks: Do they stop thieves from actually stealing the wheels? Many people say that they don't. In some cases, they're correct, the locks will only slow them down, and even then, not too much. The ubiquitous McGard locks are quite easily defeated by hammering a socket over the lock so that it can be unscrewed.

    There are two decent wheel locks on the market that aim to defeat this trick: The Gorilla Guard locks, and the Gorilla X2 locks. (Gorilla makes 5 different kinds of wheel locks, these two are the only ones that can't be defeated with this technique).

    Now, are the Guard or the X2 impervious to thieves? No. But, at only about $20.00 for the set, it's very cheap insurance. Even if they only ever prevent some teenagers from playing a prank, I think they're worth it.

    There is one additional locking wheel system on the market that is interesting, but I don't recommend it. It's the Rimlox system. These are impossible to remove without breaking something, no matter what you do. You'll either break/damage the wheel, the stud, or the hub if you try to get them off without the key. Rimlox is so confident in the system that they offer 100% replacement guarantee of wheels AND tires if your wheels are stolen with the Rimlox properly installed. Now, why do I not recommend these?
    • $400 per set.
    • All sets must be made custom for your wheels, no off-the-shelf packages available.
    • Guarantee only applies if you have a certified dealer install them. (There are two keys, an installation key and a removal key. The certified dealer must keep the installation key. Your removal key is "sealed". You unseal it only if you need to fix a flat, then you have to send it back to Rimlox to get it "resealed".)
    • Guarantee only applies if police report is taken on a day that your key is sealed.
    • Guarantee is void if the car is stolen.
    • They are possible to defeat if you're willing to break the wheel stud, although that probably will damage the rim, but thieves might try it.
    • To transfer ownership of the locks with the car to a new owner requires $300 transfer fee.

    2. Aesthetics

    The Gorilla Guard and X2 locks both have a smooth head that blends in with the other Telsa lug nuts, so the look isn't nearly as objectionable as the McGard locks. See my pictures in the thread I referenced at the beginning of this post.
    • Informative x 1
  4. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Active Member

    Apr 10, 2014
    The chances of losing the wheel lock or having it get damaged in someway such that you can't easily remove the wheel far outweighs the likelihood of having your wheels stolen. Even worse if a determined thief wants to steal your wheels, they're just going to break into the car to look for the key and now you're out the wheels and a broken window.

    I've had them on wheels in the past and removed them.
    • Love x 1
  5. jelloslug

    jelloslug Active Member

    Jul 21, 2015
    Greenville, SC
    More trouble than they are worth. Anyone that wants your wheels with get them, locks or not.
    • Love x 1
  6. strider

    strider Active Member

    Oct 20, 2010
    NE Oklahoma
    The Roadster came with locks and after 4 years of being a pain in my arse I replaced them with regular lug nuts. The wrench tends to slip off and damage the wheels. I will never use them again.

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