What Are Wheel Locks on a Car and How Can They Help?

For your car’s additional security, you should consider purchasing wheel locks, especially if you live in a high-crime area. Similarly, if you work in a dangerous area, high-quality wheel locks will give you peace of mind every time you leave your vehicle outside. Finally, leaving your car parked for extended periods of time can make it a target for wheel theft. Protect your investment with a good set of car wheel locks.

What Is a Car Wheel Lock?

A car wheel lock is a device used to prevent wheel theft in your car. Car wheel locks come in many different types. For example, you can purchase simple locking lug nuts. Alternatively, you can buy large wheel clamps that cover the whole wheel and protect you from tire theft as well.

Always make sure that you keep the key for your lug nuts or other wheel locks in a safe place. Losing the wheel lock key can make it very difficult to remove the wheel. In some cases, you need to be able to have your wheel easily removed. For instance, you need to remove the wheel for standard maintenance or to repair a flat tire.

What Are the Functions of a Car Wheel Lock?

The basic function of a car wheel lock is to prevent the theft of the car’s wheels. In addition, some car wheel locks can even prevent the theft of the entire car. These are typically the larger clamp-style locks that cover the entire wheel.

Frequently, just the sight of a car wheel lock is enough to thwart would-be thieves. In other cases, a thief may attempt to steal the wheel but is unsuccessful due to the lock. Car wheel locks are nearly impossible to remove without the proper key.

The wheels on your car are typically a large investment, with some wheels costing upwards of $1000 each. For this reason, it only makes sense for you to take precautions to protect that investment. You should purchase and install proper wheel locks to help prevent potential theft.

A thief trying to steal a car wheel

How to Use Wheel Locks

The most basic car wheel lock is used much like any other lock. With that in mind, it requires a wheel lock key to fit into the mechanism for unlocking. Simple locking lug nuts have a unique pattern cut into the top. The wheel lock key fits inside this pattern and allows the lug to be turned with a standard lug wrench.

You only need to install one locking lug nut per wheel to be effective. Since you must remove all the lug nuts in order to detach the wheel, as long as one of them cannot be removed, then the wheel cannot be removed either. So, you should install one locking lug per wheel, including your spare.

The installation of these locking lug nuts is quite simple. First, just remove one of the standard lug nuts from each of your wheels. Don’t forget the spare! Then, replace the standard lug nut with the locking lug. Use the key and a lug wrench to tighten the locking lug nut to the proper specs, and you are done with the replacement!

One drawback to the locking lug nut style is that a thief may not notice they are present until he is attempting to remove the wheels. In this case, the thief may attempt to continue removal even with the locking lug present. This can lead to damage to both the lug nut and the wheel itself.Larger, clamp-style car wheel locks are a little harder to deal with. They are larger and heavier, so they can be more difficult to use and transport. On the plus side, they prevent the car from being driven, so they protect your entire vehicle from theft.

A close-up shot of a vintage tire

The large anti-theft clamp-style locks are easy to spot, and the presence of one on your vehicle is usually enough to make a thief pass over your car. They are difficult to remove and make driving impossible. Hence, a thief generally wants no part of a vehicle equipped with that style of wheel lock.

Do Steering Wheel Locks Prevent or Deter Thieves?

Car steering wheel locks are designed to prevent theft of your vehicle. For the most part, they work as intended. The sight of an anti-theft steering wheel lock on a vehicle is usually enough to cause a thief to move on to the next car.

The most significant feature of the steering wheel locks is that they make it impossible to drive the car. Consequently, it is impossible to steal a car if the thief is unable to drive it away. In addition to locking the steering wheel, some locks also prevent the brake pedal from being pressed. This inherently prevents driving the car as well.While steering wheel locks are considered to be great deterrents, some research shows that car thieves actually prefer stealing cars with certain types of steering wheel locks present. The thief is able to cut through the steering wheel and remove the lock. With the steering wheel lock removed, the thief can use the long bar of the lock as a tool to break the ignition of the vehicle.

A steering wheel of a luxurious red car

What to Do If My Car Has a Wheel Lock and the Key Is Stripped?

Just as with any other lock, you can have problems if your wheel lock key becomes damaged. Car wheel locks can be difficult to remove once the key has been stripped. By its very nature, the mechanism is designed to prevent removal without the proper car wheel lock key.

In the event your key becomes stripped, there are some things you can do to remove the lock. You can try smashing a regular socket onto the lug and attempting to remove it that way. Alternatively, you can attempt to spot-weld a lug wrench onto the nut so that it will turn the nut.

If those things don’t work, you should look for a specialized lug gripping tool to assist with removal.  These tools are made to grip onto the lug and allow it to be turned even with a damaged key. At any rate, it’s likely that you will have to damage the car wheel lock to get it off without a good key.

What to Do If I Lose My Wheel Lock Key?

Most wheel lock keys provided by the manufacturer are packed in a small bag and placed either in the spare wheel compartment or the glove box. But what if you lose your wheel lock key? Or if you have aftermarket wheels that come without wheel lock keys? Fortunately, there are a few options to have a replacement.

The easiest way is to just buy a replacement key online. Every wheel lock key has an exclusive product code/ID number. If you have access to this information, you’re in a favorable position. All you need to do is just contact the manufacturer and ask them for a replacement key.

A person shopping online with a cup of coffee

Key Points

Here are some of the most important things to remember about car wheel locks:

  1. Wheel locks can provide much protection against the wheel or even car theft

Stolen wheels mean not only additional expenses but also the lack of ability to drive your car even for an inch. To reduce the risk of that happening, you can install additional protection in the form of lug nuts or clamp-style locks. Apart from that, there are also dedicated steering wheel locks available on the market.

  1. Lug nuts are the easiest wheel locks to install

To install these wheel locks, you just need to replace your standard lug nuts with the locking lugs using a lug wrench.

  1. Clamp-style car wheel locks can protect not only your wheels but the whole vehicle

Even though clamp-style wheel locks are a bit more difficult to use, they also provide higher protection, as they can prevent the vehicle from being driven, making it impossible for the thief to escape with your property.

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