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Esthetic and practical aspects of using wheel locks

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

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  1. berkeley_ecar

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

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    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

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    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.
     
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  3. SomeJoe7777

    SomeJoe7777 Marginally-Known Member

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    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

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    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.
     
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  5. jelloslug

    jelloslug Active Member

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    More trouble than they are worth. Anyone that wants your wheels with get them, locks or not.
     
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  6. strider

    strider Active Member

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    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.
     
  7. DriveMe

    DriveMe Member

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    I just had wheel locks installed at a local Tesla Service Center. The locks were purchased directly from Tesla's website.
    Is this how they are supposed to look?

    WheelLocks.jpg

    That's how much they are protruding on all four wheels. This just doesn't look right to me.
    I think I am going back to the Service Center to have them removed. :(
     
  8. Asterix187

    Asterix187 Member

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    In the UK pretty much every car comes with locking wheel nuts. That is sticking out quite far though!
     
  9. SomeJoe7777

    SomeJoe7777 Marginally-Known Member

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    I have an older set of the Tesla wheel locks and they do not stick out that far. They are mostly flush with the wheel face, approximately the same height/length as the normal lug nuts.

    Telsa must have changed to a slightly different part for those locking lug nuts.

    I recommend you return those, and instead get a set of one of the following:

    Gorilla 61641 Wheel Locks ("Gorilla Guard")
    Gorilla 71641X Wheel Locks ("Gorilla X2")

    I use both of these and they fit properly, do not stick out, and are more secure than the Tesla locks.
     
  10. DriveMe

    DriveMe Member

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    Thank you for your reply, SomeJoe7777! I looked through the pictures you posted in some other threads, and I think I see where the root of the problem is. It looks like the lug nuts that came with the wheels on my Model S (Standard 19" wheels) are much smaller than those in your pictures. Please have a look:

    WheelLugNuts.jpg

    So, if that's the case, I am afraid none of the wheel locks would fit as they all seem to be a bit longer.
     
  11. SomeJoe7777

    SomeJoe7777 Marginally-Known Member

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    Those are the newer style of lug nuts that Tesla is using -- an open-end lug nut with a plastic cap. Those may come out somewhat shorter than the previous lug nuts, but only by a few mm.

    The Gorilla Guard and Gorilla X2 definitely do not stick out on my wheels.

    Can you measure the length of the locking lug nut you have? I'll compare it to mine.
     
  12. DriveMe

    DriveMe Member

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    #12 DriveMe, Oct 26, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
    I went back to the Service Center and removed the wheel locks. Put the lug nuts back. They look way better!
    Here is the lock. It looks much bigger than the lug nut to me:

    WheelLock.jpg
     
  13. SomeJoe7777

    SomeJoe7777 Marginally-Known Member

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    Those are the same ones I have, and when I was using them they definitely did not stick out that much.

    Are you sure they installed them correctly? It almost looks like they torqued them down on TOP of the other lug nuts.

    What wheels are on your car?
     
  14. DriveMe

    DriveMe Member

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    Standard 19”. They must have changed the wheel design a bit, switched to smaller lug nuts.

    I am giving up on the idea of using the wheel locks. I don’t think I really need them. I only bought them because I had them on my previous cars.
     

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