Changing a tire on a VW Jetta
January 15, 2009 2:45 PM   Subscribe

My 2002 VW Jetta has a flat tire, the hubcap requires a special key to remove it, and I can't seem to find the key. Can someone tell or show me what I'm looking for? (It's our first flat in this car, and the manual doesn't show it clearly.) If I call roadside assistance to change the tire, and I can't find the key, will they likely have a key with them?
posted by Horace Rumpole to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
did you look in your glovebox? I think it might be a torx key. It may be a kind of ugly bronze color, and look like a miniature lug wrench.

Also maybe check where your spare is? Is there a bag of giblets that goes with the jack? Or in the side panels in the trunk? There are (I think) some little side compartments. Might it be in there?

I'm sure someone will know better than me. But I kind of remember it being in the glove compartment.
posted by sully75 at 2:59 PM on January 15, 2009

I think I recall it being on the back of a screwdriver. A cheap little black plastic handle on a bronze colored screwdriver.
posted by cmm at 3:00 PM on January 15, 2009

Yes, it'll be like a miniature lug wrench, either in the glove compartment or otherwise tucked away. If you don't have it (which is a huge pain FYI, I've been there with my 1997 Jetta), roadside assistance will tow your car to a dealership which will be able to deal with it.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 3:04 PM on January 15, 2009

If it's anything like mine (a 2002 VW Golf GTI, basically the same car as the Jetta but as a hatchback), it's a little solid silver-colored cylinder, about an inch or less long, and maybe a half inch in diameter. It's got cut outs on one end that fit into your hubcap. I'm having a hard time explaining it right, however.I tried a google search, but I couldn't find one that looked right. This evening I can take a picture of mine if you want (hopefully I can find it!)

If you need a new one, you'll need to talk to the dealership. I highly doubt roadside assistance will have the key. When I needed my tires replaced and couldn't find the lock, I had to go the the dealership, prove the car was mine, and then they came out with a whole tray of them and just kept trying them all until they found one that fit.
posted by cgg at 3:04 PM on January 15, 2009

Sometimes it's *in* the styrofoam that surrounds the spare, jack, and little jack kit. Like there is a spot in the styrofoam for it.

Goddam those lug-nut locks are annoying. Once you find it you can get the dealership or the mechanic to put on regular lug nuts. We did. When's the last time you've heard of wheels being stolen off a car?! The economy's bad, but it's not really that bad, is it?
posted by zpousman at 3:17 PM on January 15, 2009

On my similar-year GTI, it's in the styrofoam thing that holds the jack and wrench and other goodies, inside the tire, under the 'floor' of the hatchback area.
posted by fritley at 3:17 PM on January 15, 2009

I got a flat on a domestic car with locking hubs and AAA didn't have the wrench needed, but a call and a visit to a local (not the original dealer) netted us a wrench for free. Call your roadside support company and ask, if not call several dealers and see who will give it to you for free or the cheapest. Then when is all said and done, secure it to your spare so it's never missing.
posted by Science! at 3:19 PM on January 15, 2009

It's going to look like one of these.

Places to look:

1. Under the trunk liner, around the spare tire. Sometimes they come loose and roll around in that compartment.

2. The glove box.

3. That little ashtray behind the armrest, down near the floor. Also, the regular ashtray.

As mentioned above, it *should* be in the styrofoam bit sitting in the spare, but that's assuming that it's never been used, or made it back correctly if it was used. Did you buy the car used? It may not have made it along for the trip, if so.
posted by god hates math at 3:22 PM on January 15, 2009

Here's a picture of what we have in the styrofoam insert. The item third from the left looks like god hates math's picture, but the thing next to that looks like what cmm described. Assuming it's the smaller object, how does it interact with the hubcap?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:37 PM on January 15, 2009

The lug nut key is the smaller object... it's used to remove one of the lug nuts on the actual wheel of your car. You socket the hex end into the end of your tire iron, and the other end should fit into one of the nuts. I'm not sure what the other item is... It looks like a convenience tool for prying off your hubcap. Most hubcaps aren't locked to the wheel; they're just held on with friction clips.
posted by strangecargo at 3:43 PM on January 15, 2009

Hey Horace.
Third item from the left, fits on first item on the left, fits into lugnut, turn...voila.

Good luck!
posted by Duke999R at 3:45 PM on January 15, 2009

The screwdriver looking bit in the middle can be used for prying off the plastic cover on the wheel. Some VWs have a little bit of twisted wire for the same purpose.
You can also use it to pop out the plastic cap covering the hole where the tow eye (5th object form the left) screws in.
As a last resort, you could use it as a screwdriver(which is technically what it is. heh)
posted by madajb at 3:51 PM on January 15, 2009

So the small object gets the lugnuts off, but how do we remove the hubcap itself?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:00 PM on January 15, 2009

how do we remove the hubcap itself?

as madajb just said - use the screwdriver looking bit.
the hubcap will just be plastic and pop out of there no problem.
posted by Acari at 4:09 PM on January 15, 2009

Don't know if this is a 'duh' bit or something you might be missing, but you're only gonna remove the small center circle around the VW logo. Slide the screw driver into any of those 5 grooves surrounding it, and pop it off.
posted by carsonb at 4:49 PM on January 15, 2009

Many thanks to all. Roadside assistance has come, and we did in fact have all the necessary pieces, so the tire is now successfully changed.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:57 PM on January 15, 2009

Shazam! Don't forget to add a 'resolved' tag (uh, once you're safely off the road =).
posted by carsonb at 6:00 PM on January 15, 2009

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