This is a blog post about lug nuts. Lots of lug nuts. I know, they’re not the most exciting things. Not like a shiny new turbo or awesome vintage wheels. But they’re something every car needs. And I’ve got a bunch of sets to write about.
In this post you’ll find Miata OEM lug nuts, some easy-to-find Gorilla spline drives, a set of McGard spline drives with a rotating collar, a set of Project Kics super-light nuts, and some crazy Dency magnetic locks. And, of course, a whole lot of Optimus Prime.
And an update! The 949 Racing lugs have now been reviewed.
In fact, let me introduce my tiny helper right away…
THS-02 Hybrid Style Convoy
This is the Takara-Tomy THS-02 Hybrid Style G1 Masterpiece Convoy (I think I got all of that right). I bought him back around 2007 for about $50. I think he’s going for around $70-90 at the time of this writing.
THS-02 comes with everything. EVERYTHING. The main Prime transforms, though the truck mode is pretty bad. He makes up for it in an awesome robot mode with outstanding articulation. In fact, everything has amazing articulation. The tiny Roller has linked axles. The trailer has a very nice repair droid, ejecting ramp, and storage for everything. He comes with a rocket pack with articulated nozzles, the laser axe, an articulated GUN, and four sets of hands. An amazing little Prime. And just the helper for a review dealing with 2″ tall objects.
Onward with the lug nut post!
Stock NA/NB Lug Nuts
I thought I’d start with something that was familiar to everyone – the OEM nuts. They’re regular old acorn nuts. Nothing special about them. The lock is one of those strange pattern types that can be easily defeated by a Gator Grip socket.
I really hate this type of wheel lock. They’re very nearly worthless. I always feel like I’m gonna destroy the little pattern if I happen to torque it a little crooked. I don’t use them. After I bought Sharka back in the summer of 2000, I immediately replaced these stock lugs with some generic spline drives from Discount Tire.
They are decently lightweight, however. I’ve run across “lightweight” lug nuts online that boast a 35 gram reading on the scale. That would be about 3 g heavier than the OEM Miata nuts.
You’ll also notice I weighed the key here. This is what I came up with to assign a “sturdiness” to the various lug keys throughout this review. At 87 grams, the OEM key feels quite substantial in your hand. However, I still feel like the little pattern is gonna come right out whenever I torque one of these.
Price: A+ (probably free with your Miata)
Durability: C (I’ve stripped a few)
Ease of use: C-
Lock security: D-
Gorilla Spline Drive Nuts
These can be found everywhere. Your local Pepboys has them. Discount Tire keeps them in stock. If you ever need to replace a key or nut, you’re in luck. They’re very common. Gorilla uses a 6-spline key. This is also very common.
These nuts are decent. They’re easy to get on and off and supply a little extra security. The weight is not bad. The key is very very heavy and robust. There’s not much danger of an impact gun damaging it. They’re a fine lug nut. I’ve used these or something similar for most of my car-modifying life.
Ease of use: A
Lock security: C-
McGard Spline Drive Nuts
I bought these McGard nuts when I got my 14″ RPF1s. I wanted those wheels to last as long as possible, so the idea of a lug nut that didn’t wear away metal at all was very appealing.
That’s right, they don’t wear your wheels. The collar (yellow arrow pointing at it) spins separately from the main nut. When it kisses the wheel, it stops moving. Then you torque the nut down and no metal shavings are created. It’s a really cool idea.
See the key weight? Yeah. 52 grams. It is light. Thin. Weak. Very very very very delicate. I know several guys who have destroyed them with a torque wrench. They’re not strong keys. They’re an 8-spline design. It’s best to have a spare in your garage.
Though the key is really weak, I own two sets of these lugs. I have one on both Miatas. The rotating collar to keep any damage from happening to delicate wheels is enough for me to love these. They might not be as robust as the Gorillas, but the collar is worth it.
Durability: C? (the nuts are strong, that key is the weak point)
Ease of use: A
Lock security: C-
Project Kics Leggdura Racing Nuts
These are the Project Kics Duralumin lightweight wheel lock and nuts. And they’re VERY lightweight. They feel like nothing in your hands. Very impressive.
My buddy Alex brought these to me to ask my opinion. He got these and the Dency 2000 locks for his S2000. I picked up one of these and immediately wanted to put it in front of my camera and write about it. As I said, they’re very impressive.
The 21 gram weight is very nice. It could be a lot less. That would result in the nuts being very very delicate. At 21 grams, they should have enough mass to not come apart immediately, as I’ve read with some other aluminum nuts. Also, I’ve read great reviews about the Project Kics stuff. I think these will last for years. Of course, only time will tell.
Also, the heptagon key is nice and beefy. It should last longer than the nuts themselves. As for the lock, it’s a heptagon. Seven sided. Really quite cool and hard to notice as being different from the regular nuts. If it didn’t have the little slot in one side, it would be very very difficult to figure out which nut to put the key on.
Ease of use: A
Lock security: B
Kyo-ei Dency 2000 Locks
I read about these crazy locks, but never thought I’d see one. Then a set magically shows up in front of me. These and the Kics nuts together really made me want to write about them.
The Dency 2000 locks are a two-part thing. They have an outer unmarked cover and an inner spline lock. The outer cover just spins, making these impossible to hammer off. It is released by an elaborate keyed magnetic lock mechanism. Then you use a fairly elaborate spline key to remove the nut itself.
I said “keyed magnetic lock” above. That’s what the small hoop that Prime’s holding is. It has a selection of magnets with their polarities aligned just so inside. The key I sampled had four different magnets. You place this on the cover in just the right spot and a gate is released internally. Then you have access to the nut inside.
There’s a video on youtube with a guy cracking one of these with a regular magnet. I am here to tell you that this is next to impossible. I sat with a strong magnet for over 20 minutes. I never managed to break the security. I was blown away.
The locks themselves are almost the exact weight of the Miata OEM locks. The spline drive key is nice and heavy. It feels quite robust and not like it would fail while torquing. And the magnet key… well, it’s plastic, so it doesn’t weigh much. But it doesn’t do much. You touch it to the lock cover and that’s it.
The magnetic cover IS quite big. I was worried they might not fit everything. The wheels on the S2000 are pretty forgiving. Stock lugs could still work with that particular set. But my 14″ RPF1s have a pretty narrow lug hole. I whipped off one of the nuts and put on a Dency 2000 just to test fit.
As for availability… these things are hard to come by. I searched the intartoobz for a little while and couldn’t find a single US-based distributor for the Dency 2000 locks. Nengun sells them, but they’re based in Japan. Shipping costs aren’t exactly friendly. But, maybe that’s a good thing. You want security items to be somewhat rare and exotic.
Ease of use: B-
Lock security: A+
949 Racing 7075 Forged Alloy Lugs
My buddy Stoly sent me these lugs as a gift. I thought I’d add them to this big lug nut review. Thanks for the pressie Geoff!!!
As you can see, these are not security nuts. They are meant for racing. They’re easy to take on and off and accommodate an extended lug stud. And they’re very light weight considering how beefy they are.
Chances are if you’re reading this review, you have these nuts already. They are wildly popular in the Miata world. They are found on turbo track Roadsters everywhere. If you’re looking for something for a non-street car, look no further. Go to 949racing and order a set.
As you can see, they’re quite light. Not the lightest nut in this review, but impressive by themselves. Light enough for Small Prime to hold in his arm. That’s pretty light.
As the name suggests, these things are made of 7075 T6 aluminum. There’s some debate on miata.net about what the best alloy is for lug nuts. I’m gonna put my faith in the folks at 949 to have come up with the right one. And they just happen to be the same alloy that Project Kics used in their nuts I reviewed above.
They beg to be compared. Really, they’re very very similar. The Kics nut is not open ended, so it won’t work with an infinitely long lug stud like the 949 can. But the Kics nut IS quite sufficient. The factory studs could protrude twice as far as they do and the Kics nut would still work.
Security? On the 949 nut, there isn’t any. But it’s meant for a track car that might not be parking at a dark bar parking lot on the weekend.
Weight? The Kics nut is lighter. But what if they were the same size? You can see that the 949 nut is a bit longer. Were they the same length, I think the 949 would be lighter. There’s not that cap at the end, after all.
Durability: ? (probably A- to A+)
Ease of use: A+
Lock security: F
Overall: ? (probably B to B+)
OEM nuts are crap. Spline drive are better but aren’t much more secure. If you want security, you’re gonna have to do a bit of work to achieve it. And even then, your car can still be flatbedded.
I was extremely impressed by the Dency 2000 locks. I might pick up a set or two for my cars one of these days. Or I might keep enjoying my easy-to-use spline drive nuts and just tell myself that I have insurance for a reason. Not sure yet.
Hope this post helps out some folks out there. Leave a comment if you found this at all helpful.
Oh yeah… one more thing…
Thanks for the help, Prime!