In the last couple of decades, the demand for vehicles has significantly increased. Unfortunately, the rise in demand and popularity has also brought along greater risks, such as theft.
Various companies have worked hard on creating anti-theft mechanisms that have lowered the percentage of stolen cars. However, that didn’t seem to prevent thieves from stealing individual car parts. Now, their focus is on stealing hood ornaments, bumpers, quarter panels, rims, and even the entire wheel.
This leads to us to wheel locks. These special lug nuts or clamps make it quite difficult for thieves as they can’t use ordinary tools and keys in order to steal the rims and in the case of clamps, the entire wheel.
The Best Wheel Locks
Let’s check out the best options for your vehicle.
1. Gorilla Automotive Guard Wheel Locks
The sooner you replace your stock rims, the better. Gorilla Automotive made sure that their product keeps your wheels safe and in place.
Thieves often steal cars by jamming a socket over the lock. Acorn Guard Locks have a rotating outer sleeve which prevents any tool from actually moving the parts. These wheel locks come in a set of four and the internal portion of each lock is different.
The key that comes with them doesn’t just automatically slip on. You have to rotate it a bit until it slides in and meets the designated key portion.
The manufacturers used hardened steel in order to make these locks. Additionally, the locks have triple chrome plating for increased durability. Moreover, several thread sizes are available. The width of each lock is 12 mm, and their overall length can vary from 1.25 to 1.50 inches (depending on your car model). There are two available dimensions of the dual hex key: 3/4 and 13/16 inches.
All in all, we found Gorilla Guard to be the best wheel locks out there. They are easy to install and they do what they’re designed to do. Lug nuts are prone to breaking during the installation process if you’re not careful enough. Use the specified torque for your wheel nuts.
- Pros: Cheap and convenient. You get your own key code.
- Cons: Be careful not to over-torque the wheel nuts.
2. McGard Cone Seat Wheel Locks
McGard has a lot of experience when it comes to designing and manufacturing various locks. Taking a look at these in particular only confirms that statement.
McGard cone seat locks function just like regular lug nuts and they go under your hub or center caps (if you have those). However, the difference is that they require a special key in order to be installed and removed. The key’s pattern goes along with the lock’s steel collar. McGard uses computer-generated patterns in order to bring different pattern to each lock. Once the patterns engage, everything’s fixed into place.
The locks are made of hardened steel and feature a triple-nickel chrome plating.
Furthermore, there is a cone seat that ensures easier installation (which is already pretty simple). The manufacturers offer spare keys as well, in case you misplace yours. We do wish that these systems offered two keys in a package, but at least they offer a replacement.
The downside of these wheel locks is that they don’t have as many threads as OEM lug nuts do. However, it’s a small compromise to make if we take into account everything else that the product offers.
- Pros: Provided warranty. Easy installation. Unique key and lock.
- Cons: Wish there was 2 keys in the package.
3. DPAccessories Acorn Locking Wheel Lug Nuts
DPAccessories manages to combine security, cost-effectiveness, and convenience all in one product. That is the reason these wheel locks made it to our list. The package features four locks and a key. Each package has a different key-to-lock combination so you don’t have to worry about duplicates out there.
When it comes to durability these locks definitely stand out. The reason for that is because they are cold forged and heat treated.
Moreover, the locks are solid and precisely crafted in order to fit onto the studs of the wheel. When it comes to temperature and weather changes, the locks fare well against them and don’t corrode easily.
There really isn’t that much to be said about the negative aspects of this product, other than the fact that it might not be compatible with certain wrenches.
- Pros: Great on a budget. Black wheel locks rather than chrome. Cold forged and heat treated steel for extra strength.
- Cons: Wish you could get more than one key but at least they replace them.
4. Zonetech Tire Clamp Lock
The body and frame of this clamp are made out of high-quality ABS and it feels heavy and sturdy. It has a PVC coating which means that it’s resistant to scratches and indentations. The handle has a rubber coating as well and it doesn’t feel uncomfortable when carried around.
The clamp has a lock next to the handle where the key goes in. The way you attach the clamp is by pulling one jaw out until you get to the width of the tire. It offers a good width range, meaning that you can use the clamp even on larger vehicles.
After you’ve done that, you slide the jaw back into the groove and push the lock down. It automatically locks in and holds everything in place. The lock doesn’t require a key to lock the mechanism, which is extremely convenient. The grip of the clamp is not too tight, but it gets the job done.
One feature that is interesting about this product is its striking visuals. The colors (red and yellow) are extremely bright and saturated, which makes the clamp highly visible. The colors alone tell thieves that the car is secured and lowers the chances of an actual theft attempt.
- Pros: Uses bright colors to warn would be thieves. Easy to attach and detach. Key is only required to unlock.
- Cons: Several have reported that it’s somewhat “loose” fitting.
5. Trimax Wheel Chock
Trimax is a company that’s known for making all sorts of vehicle (mostly trailer) accessories.
Their TCL65 Chock weighs around six to eight pounds, so it’s quite heavy. The main section of the lock is made out of powder coated steel. The red section (the jaws) has a rubber coating in order to prevent any damage to your vehicle once you attach the lock. There is also a small lock on the bottom.
The company advertises the lock as being ‘’pick resistant’’, although there are some customers who claim otherwise. The clamp is tight and firmly grips the tire, which is always a benefit when it comes to clamping wheels.
One unique feature about this lock is that it also functions as a chock. What that means is that it will keep your vehicle from rolling away. There is a plating which goes on the ground once you lock the device around the tire. Basically, you get two products for the price of one, which is excellent.
The process of installation is exactly the same as with the previous clamp. It’s pretty straightforward. Also, the product is backed by Trimax’s Lifetime Warranty. In case you encounter problems with it, you can always return it back or have it replaced.
- Pros: It’s a 2-in-1 product (both a lock and chock). Heavy and sturdy which prevent it from being moved around easily.
- Cons: Thieves can obviously steal the entire tire.
What to Look for in Wheel Locks
Now you know some of the most optimal solutions to prevent wheel theft. However, we should take some time to learn more about these options.
The first thing that you need to determine is whether you want a simple wheel clamp or a lug nut lock for each tire.
Wheel clamps attach to one of the tires and lock the vehicle and tire in place. No one will be able to move the vehicle. However, thieves might use a workaround and flatten the tire in order to remove the clamp. With that said they only have to remove one wheel, and the others are left unprotected.
Locking lug nuts are convenient because their locking mechanism can only be opened with a unique key. That way, it ensures that it’s impossible to open the lock. You attach a lug nut lock to each wheel. That means that thieves would really have to commit themselves to stealing the wheels and that would take a lot of time.
Both types have their own positives and negatives. Whichever you choose really depends on your preferences. However, you may consider using both. Not only will you discourage thieves, but it also makes it extremely difficult for them to remove anything.
There are other, less popular wheel lock types, such as alloy wheel locks and spline drives as well.
Wheel Lock Complexity and Durability
It goes without saying that a locking mechanism should be as complex as possible. To achieve that, you can purchase a wheel lock that uses a unique key pattern. There are multiple instances where people have reported that thieves used universal keys to open the locks. There are various manufacturers that provide locks with unique patterns, so always look for those.
Always look for wheel locks that are made out of solid metal or a similar heavy material. Although it might seem like ‘’heavy’’ is a downside, it’s a necessary compromise to make in order to increase security. Try to find out how much resistance against various tools a product offers. Thieves will go to the extent of using socket wrenches or possibly a hammer and chisel.
Installing them is relatively easy. In this video, a young petite female installs them in less than 20 minutes.
To conclude, installing some form of lock is definitely a must nowadays, especially for people who live in areas with a high rate of crime. It’s always a better option to prevent theft than to buy new wheels each time they get stolen.
As presented, you have multiple options of approaching the matter. Whatever you decide to buy should be in accordance with your budget and preferences. However, a combination of several products is always the best possible solution when it comes to preventing wheel/car theft.
- Header image from Nam Ji on Flickr
- TriNova Image from @quality_pro_services on Instagram
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