Q: I own a two-year-old Land Rover Discovery, and recently had my spare wheel stolen while the car was parked outside my house. I thought it would be safe, as it was fitted with a locking wheel nut, but apparently this is a common problem in my area. How can I stop this happening in the future? Judith Glasbury
A: Spare alloy wheels, bolted to the back of an off-roader, are a tempting and potentially easy target for thieves. Cars such as the Discovery have a few popular wheel designs, so stealing the spares from five cars can provide a complete set of wheels to sell on. Many spare wheels never see active service, and so their tyres are effectively brand new. Even if fitted with a locking wheel nut, thieves can either shatter the wheel bolts with a large hammer and chisel or, if organised, carry a complete set of keys to undo the locks.
The quickest, cheapest and most effective way of keeping your wheel safe is not to have it bolted to the back of the car. However, removing it and keeping it in the boot may not be the most convenient solution.
As an alternative, you could try additional security, such as a high-strength motorcycle wheel lock and chain. These use hardened materials that make them very difficult to cut through or break. Loop the chain through some spokes of the wheel, and then pass it though the middle of the bracket that secures the wheel to the car.
Even if they snap or undo the locking wheel nuts, they cannot easily remove the wheel. Motorcycle wheel locks available from good accessory shops can cost from £20 upwards, but a high-quality item could cost as much as £90. This may seem expensive but it is less than the average cost of a replacement large alloy wheel.