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Published May. 5, 2021

There’s nothing worse than knowing that you parked your car in a specific spot and realizing that it’s gone when you return. And sometimes, simply locking your car doors and activating the built-in alarm isn’t enough to deter someone from trying to steal your car. While you can’t necessarily protect your car from the most determined of car thieves, you can avoid the thieves who rely on opportunity to commit a crime. 

Steering wheel locks aren’t a new invention, but they’ve evolved over time. Finding one that’s easy to install, but is also effective at preventing would-be criminals, is important. In this guide, we’re highlighting the key features you need to prioritize as you shop for a steering wheel lock, as well as providing our top picks to help narrow down your search. 

The Best Steering Wheel Locks

The Club is a fan favorite and one of the most well-known automotive anti-theft brands on the market. The 3000 Twin Hooks steering wheel lock is designed to provide added protection by providing a dual-pronged design that makes defeating this lock significantly harder.

As with other locks from this brand, it’s constructed of sturdy steel and plastic-coated to prevent damaging your steering wheel. However, this pick can be installed and locked into place without the need for a key.

But, you will need a key to remove it. The Club 3000 Twin Hooks lock offers a universal fit for cars, trucks, and SUVs with a maximum opening of 14.4 inches. We did notice that the two most common complaints about this lock centered on accidentally forgetting the keys to unlock it. And in less frequency, some consumers complained that the bar could experience fatigue and bend over time.

Key Features
  • Dual-hook design for added security
  • Universal fit for cars, trucks, and SUVs
  • Max opening of 14.4 inches
  • Plastic coating to prevent damage to wheel
Specification
  • Brand Winner International
  • Model 3000
  • Weight 3.48 pounds
PROS

Supports keyless locking

Steel construction for added durability

$500 guarantee

CONS

Keyless locking may cause users to forget keys to remove device

Just because you’re working with a tighter budget doesn’t mean that you deserve to have your car stolen. The Levenli Universal Security steering wheel lock is a low-cost, but effective way to deter thieves from trying to snatch your car. The simple, and easy-to-install design is created with a nearly universal fit for most steering wheels.

It works by attaching the lock to the top of your steering wheel so that the bright yellow steel bar sits over the dash, preventing the wheel from moving. This lock is made from hardened steel for added durability.

We like that it has a compact design which makes it easy to stow away when not in use. Also, the vinyl coating helps to protect your car’s interior. However, we did note that owners with thicker steering wheels did experience difficulty trying to install this device in their cars.

Key Features
  • Near universal fit for most steering wheels
  • Easy-to-install design
  • Hardened steel construction
  • High visibility design for theft deterrent
Specification
  • Brand Levenli
  • Model 8542045049
  • Weight 1.47 pounds
PROS

Key design that’s difficult to duplicate

Compact design is easy to install

Vinyl-coated to protect car interior

CONS

May not work with thicker steering wheels

In terms of the ultimate anti-theft deterrent for cars, an enclosed wheel lock is one of the best options on the market. While this is a pricier option, it features a design that protects your car’s airbag and spins when attacked to prevent a thief from trying to drive off with your car.

This pick is available in three sizes which can accommodate steering wheels ranging from 13.7 to 17.3 inches in diameter. You’ll also like that this pick comes with a three-year mechanical warranty. It’s specifically designed to aid in thwarting keyless entry car theft — a rising segment within car thefts.

It also comes with three keys and is made of hardened steel to provide added protection. However, it’s also one of the heaviest models in our roundup at 8.82 pounds.

Key Features
  • Enclosed wheel lock design
  • Protects airbag
  • Available in three sizes
  • Three-year mechanical warranty
Specification
  • Brand Disklok
  • Model LHDSMLSILDSK
  • Weight 8.82 pounds
PROS

Designed to deter keyless entry theft

Comes with three keys

Hardened steel design

CONS

Heavy design

The Club 1000 is a classic pick for people that need to protect their cars. This features the original single-hook design that locks into both ends of your steering wheel with a pull mechanism to trigger the lock. You’ll like that this is made from solid steel for added durability.

It features a universal fit that’s designed to work with most cars, trucks, and SUVs. The Club 1000 is specifically designed to work with steering wheels that range from 8.75 to 14 inches in diameter. Another nice feature is that you’ll get a one-year guarantee that covers up to $1,800 against your deductible if your car is broken into or stolen.

This guarantee doesn’t include New York, Hawaii, Texas, or Wisconsin. Additionally, some people noticed that the rubberized exterior tended to leave marks on their steering wheels.

Key Features
  • Self-locks with one pull
  • Solid steel construction
  • Universal fit for cars, trucks, and SUVs
  • Visual deterrent against theft
Specification
  • Brand Winner International
  • Model 1000
  • Weight 2 pounds
PROS

Guaranteed up to $1,800 against deductibles

Single-hook design

Fits wheels from 8.75 to 14 inches

CONS

Rubber exterior may cause damage to steering wheel

Guarantee is not valid in all states

The Telvaphee wheel to pedal lock design features a hook that holds onto the steering wheel and is then secured to either the brake or clutch pedals. The lock offers a virtually universal fit that can work with trucks, cars, and SUVs.

The telescopic handle can be adjusted to shift between 13.8 to 33.5 inches in length. We also like that it features a space-saving design when not in use. Another nice feature is that this lock features a safety hook on one end which can be used in emergencies either for defense or to exit the car by breaking the window.

Still, be aware that this pick features a low-profile color scheme that may not be very visible from the exterior of the car. So, a thief may attempt to enter your car before realizing that the steering wheel lock is in place.

Key Features
  • Wheel pedal lock design
  • Universal and adjustable fit
  • Comes with three keys
  • Can double as an emergency safety tool
Specification
  • Brand Tevlaphee
  • Model B07R453BKR
  • Weight 4.09 pounds
PROS

Comes with tape to protect interior

Can be attached to brake or clutch

Made of aluminum, alloy, and steel

CONS

Low-profile color scheme may not prevent thief from breaking into car

Tevlaphee offers a wide range of steering wheel locks. For people that prefer the more traditional bar design, this pick also has the added value of serving as a self-defense and emergency tool. On one end you’ll find a safety hammer that can be used to break glass in case of an emergency, such as being trapped in your car.

There’s also a hook that can be used as a self-defense tool, if necessary. The simple single-hook design is easy to install and offers a universal fit compatible with most cars, trucks, and SUVs. You’ll also get three keys featuring a crescent lock that’s difficult to duplicate or break.

The one issue we did note was that while this brand does include a safety cap to cover the safety hammer, if you fail to use the cap there’s a chance that you can damage your car’s interior.

Key Features
  • Doubles as self defense and emergency tool
  • Traditional bar design
  • Alloy, aluminum, and steel construction
  • Comes with three keys
Specification
  • Brand Tevlaphee
  • Model 8542135458
  • Weight 3.09 pounds
PROS

Includes protective pads

Rubberized prongs

Slim design for easy storage

CONS

Additional safety features can potentially damage car interior

For people with cars that lack car alarms, the Vechkom steering wheel lock could be a good choice. In addition to featuring a crossbar that lays across the dash, there’s also a built-in car alarm that emits up to 130 decibels of sound.

This pick promises to offer a universal fit, although we did note that some people with significantly older cars from the 1980s struggled to get the lock to properly clamp onto the steering wheel or for the crossbar to lay securely across the dashboard.

Still, this solid heat-treated steel bar is relatively easy to install and features a generally universal fit. The interior of the lock is leather-lined to protect your steering wheel from damage. Meanwhile, the compact design makes it easier to store between uses.

Key Features
  • Comes with a built-in 130 dB alarm
  • Easy to install
  • Relatively universal fit
  • Solid heat-treated steel bar construction
Specification
  • Brand Autly
  • Model AT043
  • Weight 3.5 pounds
PROS

Leather lined lock to protect interiors

Comes with two keys

Compact design for easy storage

CONS

May not be ideal for older cars with thinner steering wheels and more distance from dash

From the makers of the classic locks we’ve all used on our lockers comes a quad-hook traditional bar steering wheel lock for your car. The quad hook gives added durability and is designed to fit cars with wheels up to 13.5 inches in diameter.

You’ll enjoy the easy installation along with the corrosion-resistant materials for added durability. Another nice feature is that when tested, this lock can still work even after experiencing multiple cut attempts. Also, with the slim design, you can easily store it in the car or trunk when not in use. However, at 10.5 pounds, this is one of the heavier bar locks we’ve seen.

Key Features
  • Quad hooks for steering wheel
  • Traditional bar lock design
  • Fits steering wheels up to 13.5 inches
  • Easy installation
Specification
  • Brand Master Lock
  • Model 252DATAPK
  • Weight 10.5 lbs
PROS

Made from corrosion-resistant materials

Still operational after multiple cut attempts

Slim design for easy storage

CONS

Heavy weight

The Club is one of the most trusted brands for car security because they make a product that works. The Club LX Series is a traditional bar lock that offers a universal fit. The lock can accommodate steering wheels from 10 to 19 inches in diameter.

The durable cro-moly steel construction is designed to be durable, while the light 4.5-pound weight makes this easy for anyone to maneuver. You’ll also get a set of laser-encrypted keys to unlock this pick which offers a self-locking design for easy installation.

The only true concern we found was that some users experienced minor markings on their steering wheel because of the rubberized exterior. But this was most often seen with some of the brighter colors for this style.

Key Features
  • Universal fit
  • Traditional bar lock
  • Durable cro-moly steel construction
  • Lightweight design
Specifications
  • Brand The Club
  • Model 1103
  • Weight 4.5 pounds
PROS

Laser-encrypted keys

Self-locking design

Easy installation and removal

CONS

May cause marks on steering wheel

Best Steering Wheel Locks Buying Guide

Steering wheel locks first came onto the scene in the 1990s, along with car alarms, as a theft deterrent device. The lock prevented potential thieves from driving off with your car by preventing the steering wheel from being accessed or even moving. While relatively simple in concept, this popular anti-theft device became incredibly popular.

It also served as a useful tool for people with older cars that lacked alarm systems. Since it was often cheaper and easier to use than trying to install a traditional car alarm, user adoption was rapid and increased steadily over time. While the technology is no longer considered new, it’s still one of the most effective ways to protect your car from being stolen.

Why Do You Need a Steering Wheel Lock?

You might be tempted to think that if your car comes with a built-in alarm, that all you need to do is lock your doors, set the alarm, and be on your way. But the reality is that depending on where you live, work, or spend time, you might want the added deterrent of a steering wheel lock to help protect your automotive investment. If you have a car that’s considered especially desirable by car thieves, you’ll want that added protection.

Steering wheel locks are ideal because they’re relatively simple to install, but incredibly difficult for thieves to remove. As a result, this helps to reduce the chances of having your car stolen — especially if you leave it unattended for extended periods. Best of all, because the technology has been around for a while, they’re not expensive and don’t require a third party such as an automotive shop for you to have them installed.

  • Steering wheel locks can lower your car insurance.
  • They’re ideal for protecting older cars that don’t come standard with car alarms.
  • Steering wheel locks can provide added protection in areas known for high incidences of car theft. 

The Most Common Types of Steering Wheel Locks

Protecting Alfa Romeo car using best steering wheel locks
Steering wheel locks can lower your car insurance

For most people shopping for a steering wheel lock, they might assume that there’s only one type of option — the most well-known bar-style lock. But depending on how much of a deterrent you want to create when a thief looks into your car, there are a few other options available to you. While you can always get something custom-made, if you’re hoping to buy a steering wheel lock from off the shelf, these are the most common designs you’ll find. 

Enclosed Lock

Enclosed locks are probably the most low-profile options, as they don’t appear as obvious when you look through the window of a car as other designs. This type of lock completely covers the steering wheel, making it impossible to attempt to drive off in a car when it’s installed.

These locks are also some of the most difficult to break, making them incredibly effective at deterring a thief who needs to rely on opportunity and speed to break into a car and steal it. However, the downside is that these locks tend to be heavier and bulkier. So, they require more storage space when not in use — meaning that you have less trunk space to store other items. 

Bar Lock 

When most people think of steering wheel locks, the traditional bar lock that hooks into either end of a steering wheel’s spokes is the most common design that comes to mind. This lock tends to be cheaper than some of the other models and is also the easiest to use.

Because of the thinner design, when it’s not in use, you can easily leave it in the passenger floor area or back seat without it taking up much space. Also, because it’s designed to be quickly installed, you won’t have to spend time fumbling with the lock when you’re ready to leave your car. 

Wheel to Pedal Lock

As the name implies, a wheel to pedal lock connects a lock on the wheel to one on the brake or gas pedal. Because of this design, it’s virtually impossible for a car thief to even attempt to drive off in your car since the lock renders the car undrivable.

As a result, a wheel to pedal lock is probably one of the most effective anti-theft devices you can have in your car. However, one of the biggest drawbacks is that it offers a truly low-profile design. Since this type of lock is difficult to visually detect from outside of your car, there’s still a risk that a thief will have already broken into your car by the time they realize that the lock exists.

What to Consider When Buying a Steering Wheel Lock

If you’re shopping for a steering wheel lock, it’s not an understatement to assume that you’re trying to prevent your car from being stolen. This is understandable considering that after housing expenses, car payments and insurance are the second largest costs that most people have.

While all steering wheel locks can be effective at preventing this from happening, you’ll still want to consider a few things before investing in a lock. Keep in mind that user error or an ill-fitting lock won’t be an adequate deterrent. Along the same lines, a lock can’t be your only line of defense if you’re engaging in behavior that leaves your car at even further risk of being stolen.

The Most Important Features of Steering Wheel Locks

You’re concerned about losing your car to thieves, and you’re ready to add an extra layer of security by investing in a steering wheel lock. There are a variety of factors that you need to consider as you head online or to your nearest auto parts store to pick up a lock. 

Design

As we mentioned earlier, there are three main types of steering wheel locks. Some are made to be a visual deterrent that discourages a thief from even attempting to break into your car. Meanwhile, others have a lower profile which can still leave a chance that someone will break into your car before discovering it’s not worth the effort.

Also, think about how easily you can stow your steering wheel lock when it’s not in use. For example, while enclosed wheel locks are visible and very effective, their large size makes them clunky and dramatically reduces the amount of remaining storage you might have available in your trunk. Likewise, you want to make sure that the lock you want is compatible with your steering wheel. While many locks are designed to offer a universal fit, it is possible to find locks designed for smaller or larger steering wheels depending on what’s in your car. 

Ease of Use

The last thing you want is a steering wheel lock that’s difficult to install and even harder to remove. Not only will thieves be deterred, but you’ll also struggle to even drive off after returning to your car. In turn, you’ll be less likely to want to use it every time you leave your car.

While a lock should be easy for a car owner to use, it shouldn’t be easy for a thief to defeat either. You want a lock that’s sturdily designed to discourage someone from trying to break into your car. Whether you opt for an enclosed wheel, bar, or wheel to pedal lock, make sure that the installation and removal process is straightforward and something that you can easily manage consistently. 

Materials

A good look should be made of sturdy materials that can’t be easily defeated by a thief. Ideally, prioritize locks made from steel as — when properly installed — they can typically only be removed through brute force by using a saw.

Additionally, you want a lock that’s designed to last and doesn’t need to be replaced frequently. At the same time, your lock shouldn’t cause damage to your steering wheel. Remember, if you’re the type who drives to work or frequently travels by car, you’ll be using this lock multiple times a day. Over time, a lock with raw edges or that you have to struggle with to install will damage your steering wheel.

Visibility

While the main point of a steering wheel lock is to prevent a thief from driving off with your car, the other aspect is that it should be a visual deterrent. As noted earlier, not all locks are designed to be highly visible from the outside of your car.

This means that in some cases, someone may have already broken into your car before realizing that a steering wheel lock is installed. Depending on the entry method used, this can still result in expensive damage such as a broken window or a broken door lock system. So, if that’s undesirable, you’ll want to prioritize locks that can be easily seen through the car windows.

Guarantee

Not all steering wheel locks come with a guarantee, but it can be a helpful incentive. In short, the guarantee usually promises that if the lock is defeated and your car is stolen, they’ll not only give you the money back that you spent on the lock, but also help to pay towards your insurance deductibles.

In some cases, the guarantee or warranty will be for 10 years. Assuming you keep a car for 10 years, then your guarantee would be for the length of ownership — which can be a powerful influence on which steering wheel lock you select.

Care and Maintenance for Steering Wheel Locks

Demonstration on how is steering wheel lock installed
Steering wheel locks can provide added protection in areas known for high incidences of car theft

While steering wheel locks are designed to be somewhat rugged and to stand up to punishment inflicted by a car thief, you still want to take care of your investment so that it can last for an extended period. After all, no one wants to return to the auto parts store every few months to buy a new steering wheel lock.

The best thing you can do to extend the longevity of your steering wheel lock is to buy a model made from durable materials. However, there are still other things you can do to ensure that your lock lasts for more than a year or two.

  • Always store your lock in a protected area where it won’t be exposed to the elements. 
  • Always gently install and remove your lock to prevent damaging it or your steering wheel.
  • Wipe down your lock, especially if you store it on the floor of your car to prevent dirt and grime buildup.

Best Steering Wheel Locks FAQs

It’s not surprising to have questions about accessories you’re purchasing for your car. You want to make sure that you’re purchasing the right items and that they’ll perform as advertised. A steering wheel lock is a serious investment, as it’ll protect your car from would-be thieves by ideally preventing them from even attempting to break into your car. 

Q: Will a steering wheel lock damage my car if I use one?

Assuming you pick a lock that’s compatible with your car, the likelihood of damage is low. Take care installing and removing it to reduce the risk of damage. 

Q: Can I get replacement keys if I lose the originals?

Yes, it is possible to get replacement keys. But try to avoid putting them on the same key ring as your car keys, as a precautionary measure.

Q: Will a steering wheel lock make my car insurance cheaper?

This is going to depend on your insurance. Many carriers offer discounts on premiums when customers use anti-theft devices. 

Our Top Pick

We chose The Club 3000 Twin Hooks steering wheel lock as our Top Pick because it featured a sturdier design that’s even more difficult for a thief to remove. The self-locking design makes installation easy to achieve, while the high visibility color deters would-be car thieves from choosing your car. 

Final Thoughts

Go beyond simply locking your car doors to protect your car. While our Best Overall features a twin hook design that offers added security, our Best Price selection offers peace of mind thanks to a universal fit, high visibility color, and dashboard crossbar that makes car thieves think twice.

Sources:

  1. Steering Wheel Lock – Wikipedia

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