Do Wheel Locks Actually Prevent Theft?

After you buy a new car, you may want to purchase some security items like a set of wheel locks for it. Unfortunately, wheel theft is still prevalent across the U.S., so if you don’t want the possibility of finding your car sitting on a set of bricks, then these shiny round objects can prevent that. Let’s take a closer look.

Can wheel locks prevent car theft?

An OEM Honda wheel lock shown on a Honda wheel
An OEM Honda wheel lock is shown on a Honda wheel. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

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No, wheel locks can only prevent wheel theft. However, there are wheel lock clamps that can prevent your car from being stolen, but we’ll get to that later. Wheel lug nut locks, on the other hand, are redesigned lug nuts that have theft-deterrent sockets and require a special key to remove. Each key has a different pattern etched onto it so that thieves can’t use a simple lug wrench or socket to remove it.

The pros and cons of using wheel locks

A close up picture of a Honda OEM wheel lock
A close-up picture of a Honda OEM wheel lock. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The obvious positive of using wheel locks is that they keep your wheels and tires more secure. Most thieves aren’t walking around with the special wheel lock keys in their pockets and while wheel locks are possible to pry off, it is very difficult.

As for cons, the main con when using wheel locks is the possibility of losing the key. If you lose the key, it is possible to order another from the dealer (if it’s an OEM wheel lock) or online. According to Chapel Hill Tire, if neither of those methods work, then you can pay a professional tire installer to get the wheel locks off the wheels and replace them with regular lug nuts. You will then have to purchase another set of wheel locks after that.

Wheel lock clamp boots are a different kind of theft deterrent

Another type of theft deterrent is a wheel lock clamp boot. Have you ever seen a car get “booted” from too many unpaid parking tickets? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. In fact, there are wheel lock clamps that resemble those used by parking enforcement and they can effectively keep your car from being stolen, even if the thief tried to tow it away. However, those larger wheel clamp boots are heavy and clunky to transport and put on your car every time.

There are also wheel clamps that simply clamp around the wheel like a claw. These types of wheel locks are easier to transport in a trunk or inside your car and they are also easier to install. What’s even better is that these types of wheel locks are difficult for thieves to break apart and remove.

As you can see in the video posted above, it takes more than three minutes for the person to saw through the lock and then hammer it off. Most thieves won’t have the time or patience to do this, plus, doing so is noisy and can attract a lot of attention.

Are wheel locks worth buying?

Yes, both of the aforementioned types of wheel locks are worth buying. A set of wheel lug locks should typically cost less than $100 depending on the type that you buy and can effectively keep your wheels from being stolen.

As for the wheel clamp lock, those can be found for less than $100 as well depending on the brand that you get. They are also proven to be effective in protecting the entire car as opposed to just the wheels. If anything, we recommend purchasing both types of locks to keep your car and its wheel secure.

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