Best Wheel Locks: Protect Your Wheels From Theft
Our top picks give you affordable and convenient protection from wheel theft
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BY Jimmy Brown / LAST UPDATED ON June 2, 2019
Everybody loves a shiny set of eye-catching wheels on a nice ride—including marauding thieves. If your vehicle spends the majority of the time parked on the street or in parking lots, investing in anti-theft lug nuts is affordable insurance for wheel theft. Read on to see our picks for the best wheel locks to prevent theft.
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Benefits of Wheel Locks
- Get short-term protection. If you live or work in an area with high crime rates or park your car in your driveway or the street at night, wheel locks can be a sound investment in anti-theft protection. They’re affordable, easy-to-use, and effective in protecting your wheels from theft.
- Get long-term protection. If your vehicle sits unattended for extended periods of time, say during long vacations, then a set of locking wheel nuts will give your wheels the long-term protection from theft you need. Many drivers prefer clamp-style locks for long-term protection.
- Enjoy peace of mind. Those spiffy alloy rims on your ride attract a lot of attention, with some of it being unwanted. Wheel locks are a cost-effective anti-theft measure that will give you peace of mind knowing that thieves cannot easily steal your wheels.
- Save money. With a set of premium wheels often costing well over $3,000, investing in a nice set of wheel locks is cheap insurance for wheel theft. Even if you live or work in a nicer area, wheel theft can still happen, so it’s best just to err on the side of caution and secure your rims with locking lug nuts or a security clamp.
Types of Wheel Locks
Wheel Nut Lock
This is the most common type of wheel lock. Wheel nut locks simply replace one lug nut on your wheel with a locking nut which is difficult to remove without a key. These security lug nuts are popular with consumers because they’re affordable, user-friendly, and effective in preventing theft. One drawback of wheel nut locks is that they’re not a visual theft deterrent, so thieves may not notice them and may attempt to liberate your wheels from your vehicle, potentially causing damage in the process.
This type of wheel lock clamps around the wheel itself. Anti-theft wheel clamps are effective visual theft-deterrents and sport highly visible paint jobs to warn would-be wheel thieves to move onto another target. Additionally, wheel clamps protect your entire vehicle from being stolen, making them popular choices for long-term storage. The biggest gripe lodged against wheel clamps is that they tend to be heavy and somewhat difficult to operate compared to wheel nut locks.
With over 40 years of aftermarket automotive accessories experience, Los Angeles-based Gorilla Automotive has been a mainstay in the automotive security industry. Gorilla Automotive specializes in offering eager consumers wheel-specific accessories such as aftermarket wheel locks and lug nuts, as well as security alarms for motorcycles. A best-selling product of this brand is the Gorilla Automotive Acorn Gorilla Guard Lock set.
Formed in 1964, McGard is an American manufacturer of security products, wheel locks, and chrome-plated lug nuts with its headquarters in Orchard Park, New York. The brand made a name for itself in 1966 with the invention of an innovative one-piece wheel lock for the automotive aftermarket. A popular McGard product is the 24157 Chrome Cone Seat Wheel Lock set.
Founded in 1999 with its headquarters in Centennial, Colorado, the Trixmax corporation manufactures security products for cars, RVs, trucks, motorcycles, and more. Trimax makes a wide variety of wheel locks for cars, pickups, trailers, and even bicycles. One of its most popular products is the Trimax TCL65 Wheel Chock Lock.
Wheel Locks Pricing
- Under $20: There are many affordable aftermarket wheel locks available for under $20. While the majority of these attractively priced wheel locks feature solid build quality, there are a few products that lure unsuspecting consumers with cut-rate pricing at the expense of overall quality. Do your homework and go with a reputable brand such as any of the ones featured in this article.
- $20-$30: You’ll find the most popular security lug nuts are priced in this range. These wheel locks are forged from quality materials to deliver excellent protection against wheel theft.
- Over $30: If money isn’t an object for you, there are several tire wheel locks priced in the higher end of the spectrum. These premium wheel locks sport robust construction to provide superb anti-theft security. If you’re interested in a clamp-style wheel lock, you’ll most likely have to shell out over $30 for a well-engineered one.
The best locking wheel nuts will boast a robust, ultra-strong construction. If the unthinkable happens and a thief attempts to steal your wheel, they’ll use any measure possible to do so, and this can leave your lug nuts vulnerable to being damaged. The best wheel locks are forged from professional-grade steel to stand up to any abuse an aspiring thief could dole out.
Your lug nuts are subjected to harsh conditions on a daily basis, from being drenched in muddy rainwater to coated liberally with snow. As a result, you’ll want to find wheel locks that feature a high-quality finish. The best locking lug nuts sport a chrome or powder-coated finish for maximum rust-resistance.
Good-quality wheel locks will have visual clues designed to alert thieves that your wheels are off-limits. Clamp-style wheel locks are a superb visual theft-deterrent because they’re not only physically large but also painted in bright colors such as orange or yellow.
Since locking anti-theft wheel nuts replace one of your actual wheel nuts, it stands that you’ll want to ensure that a set of wheel locks is the same size as your stock wheel nuts. Consult your owner’s manual to determine the size of your vehicle’s lug nuts or remove and measure the length of one of your lug nuts.
- Short- or Long-Term Protection: Will the rims on your precious ride require anti-theft protection during work? Or do you need longer-term protection for your wheels while you spend a few months out of the country? For short-term protection, wheel nut locks should provide sufficient protection. On the other hand, you may want to consider a clamp-style wheel lock if you need your wheels (and your entire vehicle) to be secured for longer periods of time.
Best Wheel Lock Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- The best alloy wheel locks feature complex designs to thwart thieves from stealing your wheels. Look for wheel locks that have a unique key pattern, as this will ensure that your wheels are as secure as possible.
- For maximum security and ultimate peace of mind, you may want to consider equipping your wheels with both locking lug nuts and a clamp-style wheel lock. This combination will deter all but the most skilled thieves.
- Always purchase wheel locks featuring a solid metal construction. Thieves will use everything from socket wrenches to a hammer and chisel to try to get their grubby hands on your wheels, so solid metal wheel locks will withstand this abuse better than locks made from lighter, cheaper materials.
- Never leave the key to your locking lug nut in your vehicle or in your wheel well. Instead, always stow it in your pocket when you have to step away from your car.
- Reduce the chances of having your wheels stolen by parking in well lit, populated areas whenever possible. Always lock your car doors, roll up all your windows, and set your car alarm (if equipped) whenever you park your ride for any duration of time.
Q: Do wheel locks work?
A: The best wheel locks on the market use unique key patterns and robust construction to discourage most thieves from targeting your wheels; however, if a thief is determined enough, they’ll use the right tools to ultimately swipe your rims. Thankfully, the majority of wheel burglars look for easy targets, so a set of nice wheel locks will encourage them to move on.
Q: How do I install wheel locks on my vehicle?
A: Locking lug nut wheel locks are very easy to install. Simply select one of the lug nuts on your wheel and remove it with a wrench. Then, replace it with one of the locking lug nuts and tighten it with its key. For clamp-style wheel locks, open it with the key. Once it’s wide enough, place it around your wheel, tighten, and lock it.
Q: I lost the key to my locking lug nut. How do I remove it?
A: In the unfortunate event that you’ve lost the key to your locking lug nuts, you can either contact the manufacturer for a replacement, have a mechanic remove the locking lug nut, or attempt to do it yourself. Hammer on a socket wrench that just fits over the wheel lock, and then very slowly unscrews it.
The best wheel lock for rims is the McGard 24157 Chrome Cone Seat Wheel Lock set. It features a U.S. steel construction and unique lock and key pattern for superior security for your wheels.
A more affordable option is the Gorilla Automotive Acorn Gorilla Guard Lock set.