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Locking lug nuts are common on newer vehicles as well as on custom and aftermarket wheels. They can only be removed with a special key, and their purpose is to deter theft. You can replace just one or all of the lug nuts on each wheel with locking lug nuts, aka wheel locks. This type of lug nut first became available when alloy wheels became popular because thieves started stealing them. Alloy wheels are fairly common these days, but criminals continue to covet them, making locking lug nuts a desirable piece of equipment. They are fairly simple to install and provide a lot of peace of mind if you worry about someone stealing your rims. Just make sure you purchase the correct size for your make and model vehicle to ensure a proper fit when selecting the best locking lug nuts.
Gorilla Automotive Acorn Chrome Wheel Locks
- Same length as standard lug nuts
- Dual-stage technology
- Hardened-steel construction
- May be too long for some vehicle makes and models
McGard Chrome 24157 Cone Seat Wheel Locks
- Rust-resistant material
- Made in America
- Easy to install
- They can stick out a bit, which can be an eyesore
DPAccessories Black Wheel Locks
- Unobtrusive looking
- Made of cold-forged, heat-treated steel
- Easy to install
- Slightly pricey
- Best Overall: Gorilla Automotive Acorn Chrome Wheel Locks
- Best Value: McGard Chrome 24157 Cone Seat Wheel Locks
- Honorable Mention: DPAccessories Black Wheel Locks
- Best Style: White Knight Wheel Locks
- Best for Trucks: McGard 24538 Chrome Cone Seat Wheel Locks
- Best Spline: Wheel Accessories Parts Set of 20 Spline Lug Nuts
I took many factors into consideration when choosing the best locking lug nuts. I sought out high-quality products that are designed to last and can withstand a little bit of abuse. After all, lug nuts undergo a lot of pressure, particularly if they are removed a few times over the course of a year. I made sure to choose locking lug nuts, from reputable brands, such as McGard and Gorilla Automotive Products, which are both based in the United States. I was unable to hand test these products, so I researched consumer reviews to see how they perform in real-world conditions. I also chose different types, finishes, and price points to suit a variety of users. For more information on our methodology, go here.
Best Locking Lug Nuts: Reviews & Recommendations
Our Verdict on the Best Locking Lug Nuts
My top choice is the Gorilla Automotive Acorn Chrome Wheel Locks. Yes, they are a little pricier than the other options on this list, but you get what you pay for. They include a spinning feature, which can make them a little more challenging to remove without the proper key. They're also made of heavy-duty steel for strength. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the McGard Chrome 24157 Cone Seat Wheel Locks.
What to Consider When Buying Locking Lug Nuts
Locking nuts with keyed heads is the most common. Another type has a rotating or spinning collar, like our best overall option, which spins around the nut. Spline lug nuts lock in place using a spline drive adapter, but they don't have a unique key and are less secure than the alternatives.
Thread Size/Thread Diameter
Different wheels have different thread sizes, and they are measured in either millimeters or inches. Common sizes include 10mm, 12mm,14mm, 7/16-inch, 1/2-inch, 9/16-inch, and 5/8-inch. You can find this information in your vehicle's owner's manual, or you can use a pitch gauge. It’s critical you choose the proper size lug nut for safety purposes.
To center a wheel correctly on the axle, it requires specific lug nuts. Otherwise, the wheel will vibrate, and the lug nuts will loosen. The most common style of lug nuts are known as conical, acorn, or tapered lug nuts. They come with either a 60-degree or 45-degree taper. The former is often used with aftermarket wheels, while the latter is used on race-style wheels.
The good news is that locking lug nuts are fairly affordable, particularly if you choose a budget option. Many brands cost less than $50, and many options are available for much cheaper than that (and even under $20 like our Best Value pick). Since this car accessory provides good peace of mind, it's worth the investment. More expensive options may be slightly better in quality and less likely to experience scratches and other types of wear and tear.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q: How many locking lug nuts should I buy?
A: Most wheels come with five lug nuts. Many manufacturers sell sets of four locking lug nuts. This allows you to replace one lug nut on each of your four wheels with a locking lug nut. You can also purchase a set of 20 to replace every single lug nut on your wheels. If you have a Jeep or other vehicle with an externally mounted rear tire, you may want to purchase a package of five locking lug nuts.
Q: What do I do if I lose the key for my locking lug nut?
A: Contact the manufacturer of the locking lug nut. The company will use the special code from your set to determine the key pattern required for those particular lug nuts. To protect yourself, write this code down and keep it somewhere safe in case something like this occurs.
Q: Do locking lug nuts really work?
A: They are a good deterrent when it comes to preventing wheel theft, but like most security devices, it's not 100 percent guaranteed that they will keep your vehicle safe. However, since they require special keys to be removed, criminals can’t use a lug wrench or socket to remove them.
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