How To Drill Out A Locking Wheel Nut

How To Drill Out A Locking Wheel Nut

How To Drill Out A Locking Wheel Nut: A Step-by-Step Guide

Locking wheel nuts are a valuable asset in preventing thieves from easily removing your car’s wheels. These specialized nuts require a unique key to loosen or tighten them, providing an extra layer of security for your vehicle. However, there may come a time when you misplace or lose the key or find yourself in a situation where you need to remove the wheel nuts urgently. In such circumstances, drilling out the locking wheel nut becomes necessary. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of drilling out a locking wheel nut, ensuring that you can safely and effectively regain control over your wheels.

Before You Begin

Before jumping into the actual process of drilling out a locking wheel nut, there are a few key factors to consider. These include:

1. Assess the Risks

Drilling out a locking wheel nut is a last resort option and should only be done when all other methods have failed. There are risks involved, such as damaging the wheel or even injuring yourself. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully evaluate whether drilling is the only viable option or if seeking professional assistance might be a better course of action.

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2. Gather the Required Tools

Drilling out a locking wheel nut requires specific tools to ensure a successful outcome. Make sure you have the following items before you begin:

– Drill machine

– Drill bits (recommended: cobalt or titanium coated)

– Protective gloves

– Safety glasses

– Lubricating oil (to cool down the drilling process)

– Center punch

– Hammer

– Chisel (optional)

The Step-by-Step Process

Now that you have assessed the risks and gathered the necessary tools, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of drilling out a locking wheel nut:

Step 1: Identify the Type of Locking Wheel Nut

Before you begin drilling, it is essential to identify the specific type of locking wheel nut you are dealing with. There are various designs available, each requiring a slightly different approach. The most common types include:

– Spline Drive Nuts: These have a unique pattern around the outer edge of the nut, requiring a matching key to fit into and extract the nut.
– Hexagonal Nuts: These have a six-sided shape and require a hex key to remove.
– Spinning Nuts: These nuts often have a smooth outer surface, making it difficult to apply torque. They usually require a removal key that tightly grips the nut while unscrewing it.
– Rounded Nuts: These nuts have rounded edges instead of flat sides, making it challenging to use traditional tools to remove them.

Identifying the specific type of locking wheel nut will help you determine the most effective drilling technique.

Step 2: Center Punching

Using a center punch, mark the center of the locking wheel nut. This step is crucial as it helps prevent the drill bit from ‘wandering’ and ensures a more precise drilling process. The mark you make should be deep enough for the drill bit to catch onto but not so deep that it damages the wheel.

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Step 3: Drilling Pilot Holes

Start with a small drill bit, typically around 2-3 mm in diameter. Begin drilling a pilot hole, using moderate pressure and a slow speed setting on your drill machine. The purpose of this pilot hole is to create a guide for larger drill bits and prevent them from slipping or causing unnecessary damage. Keep the drill level and perpendicular to the wheel’s surface.

Note: It is essential to wear your safety glasses and gloves throughout the drilling process to protect yourself from any potential accidents.

Step 4: Increasing Drill Bit Size

After creating a pilot hole, gradually increase the drill bit size. Start with a 5-6 mm bit and continue enlarging the hole until it is slightly smaller than the locking wheel nut. Apply steady pressure and let the drill do most of the work. Use a lubricating oil to cool down the drill bit and extend its lifespan.

Step 5: Final Drilling

Once the hole is sufficiently enlarged, switch to a drill bit that matches the size of the locking wheel nut. Continue drilling until you completely remove the nut. It is crucial to maintain a steady hand and avoid applying excessive force, as it can lead to the drill bit breaking or damaging the wheel.


Q1: Can I reuse the wheel nut after drilling it out?

A1: Unfortunately, once you have drilled out a locking wheel nut, it becomes unusable. It is recommended to replace the locking wheel nuts with new ones after successfully removing them.

Q2: Is there any alternative to drilling out a locking wheel nut?

A2: Yes, there are alternative methods to remove a locking wheel nut, such as using a lock removal tool, seeking assistance from a professional locksmith, or using wheel nut removal sockets. These methods should be explored before resorting to drilling.

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Q3: Can I use a regular drill bit to drill out a locking wheel nut?

A3: It is not recommended to use regular drill bits, as they may not be able to withstand the hardness of locking wheel nuts. Cobalt or titanium coated drill bits are more suitable for this task, as they are designed to handle tougher materials.

Q4: Can drilling out a locking wheel nut damage my wheel?

A4: Yes, there is a risk of damaging the wheel while drilling out a locking wheel nut. To minimize the chances of wheel damage, it is crucial to take the necessary precautions, such as using lubricating oil, maintaining a steady hand, and applying moderate pressure.

In Conclusion

Drilling out a locking wheel nut should only be considered as a last resort when all other methods have failed. It is essential to approach the process with caution and take the necessary safety precautions. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can safely and effectively remove a locking wheel nut and regain control over your wheels. Remember, if you are unsure of your abilities or face any difficulties, it is recommended to consult a professional for assistance.

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