Stupid, Stupid Invention

Lock nuts. Ever heard of them? They might just be the stupidest invention ever.

Our Toyota Matrix got a hole in the tire. I walked out of the cottage yesterday morning, and noticed that one side of the car was lower than the other. I have no idea how long it had been like that. We have the other car with us, so it wasn’t a big deal, I figured I’d just put the spare on some time and get it patched when we got home.

This afternoon, I set about to do same, and was confused when one of the 5 nuts was rounded, and had a funny pattern on it. Attempting to loosen the nut with the provided wrench did nothing. I searched the car for some kind of tool to turn this odd nut, and came up dry. Apparently whoever we took the lease over from forget to include this essential piece. Giving up, we called CAA and figured they could handle it. But when the arrived, and tried every tool they had in their arsenal, they had no luck either. The driver filled the tire back up with air and sent me downtown to a local mechanic.

On the way I called Toyota — the nearest dealership being an hour and 20 minutes away. They informed me that there was not likely to be any aftermarket tools for this nut, that there was no way to find the tool using the VIN of the car, and that the only solution was to have the vehicle towed the 80km to them to have it removed. I tried really hard not to swear as I hung up the phone.

Fortunately, the guy in town was able to patch the hole in place, because if he couldn’t, in his words I would be “F@#$.”

Imagine, then that this had happened at 11:00 at night, in a snow storm, to Nicole while she was driving the kids somewhere. She would have been stuck there, totally and completely stuck.

Now I gather that such an invention is not unique to Toyota products. But Toyota passed the vehicle’s inspection upon our lease assumption without providing us with the tool — despite taking nearly a week to do so. Just like Toyota built a vehicle with an engine torqued so far beyond its capabilities that the piece of crap spins out at the first sign of snow in the first 3 gears. And Toyota sells a “racing” edition car in Canada with tires that are near-lethal to drive in the winter.

I hate, hate, hate our Toyota Matrix, and as much as I’d one day like to own a Prius, I don’t think I will ever buy a Toyota again.

Addendum: Consider me mollified. The car still sucks, the leasing process still sucks, and I’ll never buy a Matrix again, but… the service guy at our local dealership was stellar. He apologized for the problem, and rectified it for us in less than half an hour — for free. 4 new, non-lock-nuts on the car, and the key for the original nuts is on-order if we ever want to pick it up and use them again. The Prius remains in the running for our next car…

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3 thoughts on “Stupid, Stupid Invention

  1. My son had one of those on his old Jeep Wrangler, but that one was on his spare. But that kind was more of a “lock” rather than just a lock nut. And of course it was discovered only when he needed it (on the Northway, no less…). He ended up ordering a new one thru the jeep dealer. But his jeep was so old that the dealer couldn’t remove it either without “breaking” the holding mechanism. So they waited a day or two until the new one arrived…

  2. Is it a lease? You could always swap the differential for some shorter gears, that’ll fix the torque problems.

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