If you don’t count my Hot Wheels years, I’ve been playing with cars for more than three decades. I’ve wrenched on them, raced them and — admittedly — wrecked them. But in all that time I predominately played with American muscle cars and Japanese sports cars. I hadn’t really dabbled in the European stuff, mostly because I couldn’t afford it. My racing buddies kept telling me I needed to drive a “real” sports car. Something German and fast. Eventually, I caved and bought a Cayman. That is when I realized that even though I’ve been tinkering on rides since I was tall enough to reach the door handle on a Camaro, I don’t know a darn thing about German engineering.

I will acquiesce to all of the hype, yes the Porsche is fast out of the box. The Germans certainly know how to build a rocket ship of a car. But when I went to remove a wheel is when I realized that the Germans do some strange stuff.

When it comes to German engineering, I’ve heard about it all my life. I assumed they knew what they were doing. That was until I went to take a wheel off and I found out what all of you BMW, Audi and Porsche nerds already knew: The Germans don’t use studs for their wheels. They use lug bolts. Does this make it so the wheel falls off less than it does on a car with studs and lug nuts? Nope. Does this make putting a wheel on much more difficult to navigate? Unequivocally, yes. “Why do they do this?” I asked my friends who pushed this German engineering agenda upon me. Their answer was, “The Germans are smarter than you. Don’t ask questions.”

Not only did this German car come with lug bolts instead of simple studs and lug nuts, it also came from the factory with OEM wheel locks. That is not what I am looking for when I want to torque my wheels between sessions on track.

Fine, I get it. The Germans are smarter than me. But are they smarter than every other car manufacturer out there that uses wheel studs? My friends say they are. That is odd because F1 cars, the pinnacle of automotive engineering, don’t use wheel bolts. Regardless, I just needed to remove the wheels to get ready for an upcoming track day where I wanted to use a dedicated set of wheels and tires, which sent me right into my next German car problem: wheel locks.

Strano Performance helped me order a set of sweet BC Forged wheels for track duty. Unfortunately, they weren’t in my garage to help me install them on my car.

I couldn’t remove the wheels on my German car until I removed the wheel bolts, and I couldn’t remove the wheel bolts until I found the special adapter that lets me remove the wheel bolt lock on each wheel. After some quick searching around the usual places these things can be — like the glove box — I had to Google where this thing was kept. There was a hidden panel in the frunk — the front trunk — where stored nicely in Styrofoam, next to the removable front tow hook was the wheel lock adapter. I quickly realized this thing is just too small not to lose.

After finally finding the wheel lock adapter in the frunk, I was able to slap it on the wheel bolt and get things rolling.

I knew right away I did not want to have to deal with the wheel lock issue again, especially on a track car that will have wheels pulled off and on continuously. A quick trip to the Porsche dealership — in my wife’s Hyundai because the Porsche was apart — scored me four OEM wheel bolts. They sell them in packages of four, which was convenient. How much for four Porsche wheel bolts? Just the low, low price of $55, which was quite inconvenient. These are just bolts folks.

This bag is worth $55. Yes, and there are no drugs in this bag, just wheel bolts. You can’t smoke a wheel bolt. I tried once back in college. Doesn’t get you high.

Once it was time to put a wheel back on the car without scratching the wheel, scratching the fancy red brake calipers or destroying my old man back in the process, I realized needed a solution for holding a wheel in place while I struggled to try to thread a bolt into a moving target that I can’t see because the wheel is in the way. That is when I let Amazon come to the rescue. For just $5, not $55 — this came from Amazon, not Porsche — I scored this handy wheel alignment hanging pin tool designed with the thread pitch for a Porsche: M14 X 1.5.

This simple pin makes putting a wheel on easy, like as easy as every other car built in the world that comes with wheel studs!

I hand-threaded the wheel alignment hanging pin tool into the hub and easily slapped the wheel onto the car without damaging anything painted or my lower back. I sent four of the wheel bolts through the open holes, then unscrewed the wheel alignment hanging pin tool and installed the last wheel bolt. Then I hit all five bolts in a star pattern with my trusty calibrated torque wrench and torqued the wheels to 118 foot-pounds, or in German-speak, 160 Newton-meters.

The red oval shows the wheel pin in place holding the wheel up while I threaded the rest of the wheel bolts.

Another German problem I ran into was simply jacking the car up. Those frisky Germans are so concerned with weight, they made the floor pan almost impossible to use a lift. I didn’t want to damage the undercarriage, so I ended up back at Amazon to source some jack pads. These little pads fit inside the frame perfectly so I can get a jack or a lift under the car without damaging the car.

Amazon to the rescue again. Twenty bucks in jack pads just to get the car off the ground.

I’ve certainly left marks on the undercarriage of many a racecar in my day quickly using a jack during a pitstop at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. But that was on inexpensive Japanese cars sourced from wrecking yards and then tuned into racecars. I didn’t want to harm the undercarriage of this German engineered Porsche. After all, I don’t even own this car. The bank does. The jack pads ensured I didn’t leave any damage.

You can see how narrow this jack point is on this car. The jack pads are a must to get this thing safely in the air.

My friend Keith saw me in the garage walking in circles for hour and hours. He came by and asked me, “Well, are you a certified Porsche mechanic yet?” I told him, “Nope. It took me three days, a trip to the dealership and two Amazon deliveries just to remove a wheel. I’m not even sure I should be allowed to own this car let alone take it apart.”

Rob Krider is a four-time NASA Honda Challenge 4 National Champion, the author of the novel, “Cadet Blues,” and is the host of the “Stories and Cocktails” podcast.

Image courtesy of Rob Krider


  1. Wait until you have to replace brake pads, which means removing the front calipers to get the pads out on your model Cayman, which means replacing the caliper bolts because they’re 1 time use only. Enjoy. Just remember the fun on the track when frustrated with the work to get there.

  2. With great power and precision comes great headaches and frustration. Curse them in the garage and then marvel at their ability on the track. Precision instruments always require more care and difficult handling but they are required for the most impressive results.

  3. Excellent piece of journalism. I started with Porsches, first a 356B Super 90, and eventually had a Porsche shop in SoCal building a great many 911s and 930s from 1975 up though 1985. But I too could never afford to race one so I raced Mazda rotaries in IMSA and then went stock car racing. 911s then had wheel studs. It was VW, BMW and Mercedes that had bolts and yes, we hated them too. Since that time I have taken great pride in making domestic cars beat Porsches. But financially, I should have stayed with Porsche. They won the race for perceived value. My 74 Carrera which I rented to 20th Century Fox for a Charlies Angels special episode was sold cheap about 15 years ago, but resides in the UK now and was appraised at $550K

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