It’s been six months since I bought my ’92 Mazda Miata and I’m in love with the little thing. Sure it has its faults, but it only cost me $2,000, is extremely cheap to own and has taught me more about cars than any other vehicle I’ve ever owned. It’s made me more patient, observant and a better driver. The affordable convertible has also made me realize that Murphy’s Law is real and a force to be reckoned with.
It started off like a regular Saturday. I woke up late and decided to catch up on my laziness by changing the Miata’s brakes. I bought new rotors and pads for all four corners of the car a month ago and just waiting for the perfect time to change them. I wasn’t doing anything and my helpful assistant (aka my girlfriend) was also free, so we headed down to my parents house with a quick bagel detour on the way.
As soon as we got there, we got all of the necessary parts out and put the car onto jackstands. I got the air compressor out, hooked up the gun and paused. The previous owner before me, who happened to be a mechanic and a so called “enthusiast,” decided it was a good idea to put special lugnuts from Gorilla on all four wheels. When I purchased the car I didn’t think much about them, but these little suckers would bring me hours of pain and worry.
I took out the socket kit for the gun and got ready to attack the rims, but there was one major obstacle in my place. These “special” lugnuts required a key to open. Luckily for me, I had the key. So I put it on a 19mm socket and sprayed the gun. Nothing. I sprayed a couple more times, but still nothing. I took the key out and tried on another lug nut. Still, nothing. At this point I have no idea what’s happening. The key fits into lug nut, but it just spins.
So I decided to get more physical with them and went at it with a breaker bar and pipe. That combination seemed to work, but then there was another issue: I couldn’t get the freaking key out of the lugnuts! This agonizing process of getting the key to fit into the lugnuts, taking the breaker bar to open the lugnuts, then hitting the lugnuts with a pipe to release the key went on to four lugnuts. After getting four of them off, the key was mangled and no longer fit into any of the lugnuts.
It was the most infuriating thing I have ever dealt with. After struggling to get four lugnuts off the vehicle, my helper and I decided to save the brake job for another day. We hammered the key into the lugnuts and tightened them with a gun.
As of this moment, the only negative part was that we wasted an hour of our time. Another time would pop up for us to do the brake job, so it wasn’t that big of an issue. We headed off on our way to get some exotic fruit from a store that was approximately 30 minutes away.
On the trip there, I paid close attention to the wheel. I figured that the vehicle being pretty old and the lugnuts giving us such a hard time to come off could only result in something bad. But the drive there was 30 minutes of going 60 mph and it went smoothly. The job was done.
I let out a sigh of relief as we got to the store and we bought a crap ton of exotic fruits to munch on. The way home was a similar trip—parkway at 60 mph and then a long stretch of highway going whatever the minivan behind me bullied me into going, so roughly 75 mph. I wasn’t that worried about the trip. It wasn’t necessarily long in any way and the lugnuts had held up going 60 mph on the way to the store. So what could go wrong?
We started the return journey home on the same road that led us the store. I was driving at about 40 mph when I started to hear a weird noise. It sounded like it was coming from directly under the gear lever and it was a strange humming noise. I asked my girlfriend about it and she dismissed it. We came to a red light and the sound was gone. We started back up again and the noise intensified. When it got really loud I realized that something was wrong with the wheel and pulled over to the side of the road and crept along to a gas station.
We got out of the vehicle and saw the direct cause of the horrible sound: the lugnuts that we had removed were loose, hand loose. I immediately called my dad. He gave me a lecture about being careful, checking my work and other things that weren’t really helpful. He told me to make my way to a local parts store to get some replacement lugnuts.
Luckily for me, I always carry a toolbox in my car. It’s nothing fancy, just a kit that I picked up from Walmart, but it’s come in handy more times than I can count and had the right tools for me to tighten the lugnuts to drive down the road to Advance Auto Parts. I bought a set of five lugnuts and an x-shaped lug wrench to replace the hand-loose lug nuts.
It took us about 30 minutes to use the key to get the old lug nuts off and the new, shiny ones on. My girlfriend and I also took the time to eat our fresh sushi from the exotic store and chug a good amount of coke down before going on the return journey home.
The Miata made it home without any trouble and the new lugnuts have done an amazing job. What I find really funny is the fact that the lugnuts with the idiotic key cost a fortune while cheap lugnuts from Advance Auto Parts were 1,000 times better. The majority of people looking for a vehicle are afraid to get an older car because of the major components, but it’s the cheaper, smaller things that you need to keep an eye on. Who knew getting exotic fruit would be such an adventure?