This story started about two years ago, when I was in Japan and my car was stored at my mothers place. She emailed me, telling me that she had called BCAA to get one of my tires fixed as it had gone flat. They had come over, removed the tire and put the spare in its place.
AS I am not comfortable having someone mess with my car at all, and expecially when I am not there, I immediately emailed mom back and asked her to call BCAA and get my tire put back on and to do nothing to it. I'd much rather have it fixed myself - if necessary (it wasn't!) than pay for them to drive all over the place and have me pay a fortune for it.
So, they came and put it back on. Should have been end of story, but, no.
When I got back to Canada, I had to get my car going again. No problem with the tires, put a bit of air in them, a bit of tire sealer, and they are good to go.
Now, as I am servicing the car, I had to remove the front wheels to replace the starter (the solenoid had seized). After I put them back on, I thought I'd check the rear wheels too. Easy to do, except for one lug nut. The locking one.
It was tight. Really tight. So tight, that it broke as I was trying to remove it. It's really poorly designed, upon further inspection, as the lock only engages into the lugnut about 1/8". That's not very much.
As you can see from the pictures, the damage from the initial break was enough to prevent me from removing the locknut without some considerable work.
After banging and hammering and fighting, even using a hydraulic jack to press the socket against the lugnut to apply force wasn't enough.
Fortunately, I have a small grinder and was able to grind some grooves into the nut, eventually enough to be able to smash hammer a socket on and with my 1/2 prybar plus a three foot long pipe I was able to break the nut free.
It was really tight. Too tight. I got out my torque wrench and checked the tightness of the remaining lugnuts. The proper torque is 100 ft/lbs (give or take 5 or 10 depending on who you refer to). These nuts were tightened way past the limit of my wrench, over 150 ft/lbs. Geez, like 50% over the rated tightness. No wonder the locknut broke.
Lesson to be learned? Most tire "mechanics" or tire shops tighten your wheels totally improperly. Yes, I've seen this done numerous places.
The only way to do this properly is to tighten the lugnuts just reasonably tight and then use a torque wrench to tighten the nuts to the proper tightness.
Most places use an impact driver to ram the nuts on and then will use a torque wrench to make sure they are tight enough (maybe). Of course, a lugnut tightened to 150 ft/lbs or even more will certainly 'click' the torque wrench set to 100 ft/lbs. That is a very incorrect way to check the tightness. If you see your shop or mechanic using an impact gun on your wheels, get mad. Tell them to do it properly and then never go there again. If not, be prepared to be unable to get your lugnuts loose when you need to and have to resort to those useless tools that come with your car.
Just imagine your Mother trying to do this alone by the side of the road at night during a snowstorm. she'll be in serious trouble.
Please, check your lug nuts now and tighten them properly.
If you don't have the ability or tools to do so, contact me and I'll help you.
I am warning you!