Watch any old film from the 70’s or 80’s set in the inner city and you will almost certainly see a wheel-less car up on blocks in the background. Cars with missing wheels were the shorthand for crime and urban decay 30 and 40 years ago.
The trouble is that this type of crime is coming back. Wheels and alloys are once again becoming juicy targets for opportunistic criminals, as many car and truck owners are finding out to their cost.
A wheel lock can be a cheap but effective way to deter this type of crime and protect your vehicle. In this guide, we’ll help you to find the best wheel lock for you.
The Best Wheel Lock For Cars
We’ll kick off our list with this set of gorilla wheel nuts. Gorilla is a brand with a well-earned reputation for producing top quality automotive products. We’re pleased to say they are setting a high bar with this set of quality wheel locks.
They are available in 5 different size ranges, so there should be a model to suit the nut size of your wheel. They boast a 60-degree conical seat and a very attractive, high shine finish. This pack comes as a set of 4 with a locking key. For the price, it’s slightly disappointing to get no spare locking nut.
The big stand out though is the extremely narrow groove to the locking face. This feature, along with the cold-forged hardened steel construction makes this wheel locks simply some of the toughest around.
Available in 5 Nut Sizes
1.5-Inch Overall Length
Innovative Narrow Groove Design
- BrandGorilla Automotive
- Weight14.4 oz
Very Secure Design
Tough Steel Construction
4 Pack – No Spare Nut
Next up is another set of locking wheel nuts, this time from McGard. Just as with the products above though this set of wheel locks is of very high quality.
That quality starts with the material. McGard has employed restricted chemistry steel, made right here in the US and only for McGard – you won’t find this high-quality steel in the products offered by anyone else. The steel has received triple nickel-chrome plating for an attractive shiny finish that will stand up well to corrosion.
The lock itself is another that boasts a highly secure narrow gauge. McGard also employs computer-generated locks and keys to guarantee that each lock is completely unique – there is no danger of key duplication here.
This is a pricey product alright, but it is one that stakes a strong claim to being amongst the best wheel locks on the market.
1.28-Inch Overall Length
Set of 4 Locks & 1 Key
- Weight15.2 oz
Very Attractive Chrome Finish
Made of High Quality, US Made Steel
Computer Generated Lock & Key Pattern
Too Short for Trucks/SUVs
No folks, don’t adjust your display! You haven’t wandered into a new article for a different style of product. Despite looking very different from what has come before, this is still a wheel lock. This is a clamp style of lock though.
Naturally, these styles of wheel locks operate differently to the type we looked at above. These locks are designed both as a visual and a physical deterrent to the car thieves. To that end, this device is painted bright yellow and has been built of very strong, heavy gauge steel. It is also equipped with a pick resistant lock.
It’s good to see that the device is coated with a strong epoxy powder coat to prevent corrosion too. As with all devices of this kind, it is a bit of pain to lock on and remove and you may resent having to do it daily. Though it is a high-quality item that should provide a high degree of security.
Built in Chock
- Weight6.39 lbs
Strong Steel Construction
Built-in Chock Prevents Wheel Movement
Universal Design to Fit Any Wheel
Can be a Hassle to Use Frequently
If you are in the market for a quality wheel lock (and we assume you are) and you drive a Toyota or a Lexus, then take a good look at this next product.
This is a high-quality wheel nut boasting a number of features we expect to see on products from the premium end of the market. We have triple-nickel plating with a chrome overlay to provide exceptional corrosion protection. The lock itself has been constructed of high-end hardened steel that has been precision machined.
The other big benefit is that this is a Toyota product designed to replace Toyota parts. That means that this lock has been weight balanced to the factory issue Toyota nut so you don’t have to worry about wheel rebalancing.
If you don’t drive a Toyota there are cheaper options out there for you. If you do, this is a top quality brand specific locking lug nut that is very well designed and built.
Pack of 4
- Weight15.2 oz
Weight Balanced for Toyota Lug Nut
Cheaper Alternatives Out There for Non-Toyota Cars
If you were looking at the previous entry and thinking that those wheel locks looked great, but gosh darn it you’d picked the wrong Japanese car maker, then we have you covered.
This next entry is extremely similar to the last set we looked at. Oh, but with the slight difference that these wheel locks are designed with Honda vehicles in mind. But don’t worry, the badge may have changed but the quality is still high.
We have a triple – nickel finish with chrome plating for an attractive design that resists corrosion. The metal beneath that finish is hardened steel for extra toughness. One little bonus is a neat little storage pouch for the key, which hopefully can help you to keep it safe.
The negative for this wheel lock is also the same as the Toyota. If you don’t drive a Honda, there are wheel locks out there of similar or equal quality and a lower price.
If you do drive a Honda, this product could prove a solid investment.
Honda Branded Product
Storage Pouch for Key
Hardened Steel Construction
- Weight12 oz
Excellent Chrome Plating
Cool Little Key Storage Pouch
Cheaper Non-Honda Models Out There
Gorilla is back for their second entry on our list. Just as before, this is a quality item, though it should be noted that this is more of an entry-level lock than the ones we looked at previously.
Does that mean some features are stripped back? Well yes, but one area that remains as strong as before is the construction. The body of this device is made from excellent high-quality steel, exactly what you would expect from Gorilla wheel nuts. Over the top of this, you will find high-end triple nickel plating with a chrome finish.
That chrome finish, by the way, is great – these nuts are designed to look awesome on a car. The entry-level aspect comes from the exposed locking area. On the premium Gorilla models, the locking area is tucked away inside a narrow sleeve for extra protection, but that is omitted here.
For that reason, you may not get quite the same high-quality security from this product as from premium models. But it is still a high-quality item with a very reasonable price tag.
Hardened Steel Construction
6 Sizes Available
Entry Level Price
- BrandGorilla Automotive
- Weight12 oz
Good Value for Money
Wide Range of Sizes
Exposed Lock Surface
Zonetech are the manufacturers of the next item to make the list, out second clamp style of wheel lock. It is the lowest priced wheel clamp to make the list, but that doesn’t mean that it is missing any features compared to premium models.
On the contrary, there is a lot to like about this product. Firstly it is of a very tough ABS construction to resist forced removal. The handle is a nice design element too. Firstly it makes the product easy to carry and hold. Its secondary function is to prevent the vehicle from being driven away whilst the lock is engaged.
The PVC coating to the arm tips is also very welcome. It will help to protect your alloys from accidental scratches that unprotected metal could cause. They are also bright red, a nice contrast to the bright yellow body. That helps make the device highly visible so it serves as an excellent deterrent to potential thieves.
- Weight3 lbs
Easy to Use
PVC Coating Protects Alloys
Too Small For Trucks/SUV Wheels
Only Two Keys
Next up we have this set of locking wheel nuts from DPAccessories. Terrible, terrible company name but very good product here, with one obvious standout feature – they are black.
Most wheel locks on the market, as we have seen with this very list, come as shiny, chrome-coated locks. That’s fine unless you have dark colored alloys and wheels, in which case the single shiny wheel lock will very much stand out when compared to the rest of the nuts.
On the other hand, if you have light colored wheels, you could go for a darker wheel lock to make it stand out. That way potential thieves sizing up your wheels will see the lock in place.
Aside from its color, this lock has a few other cool features. It made from cold forged and heat treated steel, so you can be sure it is extra tough. It also still has a chrome coating applied, which will help to prevent rust and corrosion.
Oh – and it’s a five pack too! So you will either have a lock spare or you can add one to your spare wheel and protect it too.
5 Pack of Locks
- Weight13.6 oz
Suits Dark Alloys
Stands out Against Light Alloys
Some Won’t Like the Color
Won’t Suit Every Vehicle
The penultimate product to make our list and the last set of locking lug nut style of products is this set from McGard.
They are in fact near enough identical to the McGard wheel locks we looked at above, with a couple of exceptions. Firstly, they are designed for a 20-Thread size. Second, they come as a pack of five. Which we like, since it gives you either a spare lock or allows you to pop one onto your spare tire to prevent people stealing that too.
Other than that, as we said this has the same high quality you expect from McGard. That means triple nickel chrome plating for a tough and durable finish. It also means chemically treated US steel made bespoke just for McGard.
This is another high-quality product from a renowned manufacturer.
Triple Nickel Chrome Plating
Premium Quality Steel
- Weight1 lb
Pack of Five!
Very High Quality
Only Available in One Size
If you are looking for the ultimate in visual deterrents, this next product from COOCHER could fit the bill. It is very big and it is very yellow and any thief is going to be able to see it from a mile away!
If they do try to mess with it, they are going to find this wheel lock is as tough as it looks. Heavy-duty steel construction has been deployed here for a locking device that will be hard to shift. There are other nice features too, like a rubber tip added to the end of the clamp arms/disc. That will help to protect the alloys from scratch damage.
There are two negatives to this lock. The first is the price. Given the size and premium construction it should come as no surprise this is the most expensive lock on the list. The second downside is the sheer weight of the thing! 14 pounds is not to be underestimated, and you may resent lugging this out to lock your car every night.
Still, it is without question one of the toughest locks to make the list.
Clamp Style Lock
Soft Grip Handles
- Weight14.05 lbs
Highly Visible Deterrent
Extremely Tough Construction
It is Very Heavy
It’s Hard to Store
Best Wheel Locks For Cars Buying Guide
In our buying guide, we’ll take you through the features that you should keep an eye out for when picking out the best wheel lock for you and your vehicle. After that, we’ll take a look at how best to use your new toys and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these extremely useful products.
Things to Consider When Buying Wheel Locks for Cars
- High Quality Finish These locks are going to have a tough old life, either driving around in the wheel itself as it splashes through rainwater, or installed on the wheel and sitting out in rain and snow. Look for a chrome or powder finish to prevent corrosion.
- Visibility Especially with clamp styles, make sure they are easily seen. Bright yellow and red paint and materials will really help achieve this and help to deter potential thieves.
- Rubber/PVC Tips Another feature that is more for the clamp style locks. A softer material at the end of the clamping arms – like rubber or PVC – will help to prevent scratches.
- Fit More for the locking wheel nut style of wheel lock. Because it is replacing a lug nut in the wheel itself, you need to make sure it is the same size. Check your vehicle manual for the lug nut sizing or remove and measure the length of a lug nut.
- Construction Last but not least, the best wheel locks will have a super tough construction. After all, if the worst comes to the worst they will need to resist the attempts of a thief to steal the wheel, so they need to be strong to stand up to that punishment for as long as possible. Look for a high-quality steel construction to ensure they can take the pain.
Advantages of Using a Wheel Lock
Why invest in a wheel lock? Well to our mind there are three main advantages to placing a good quality-locking device onto your wheels.
- Short-Term Protection
If for example you live in a high crime area, or even if you just worry about your vehicle, a wheel lock can provide peace of mind. Even overnight, if your car is parked on the street or driveway, it’s nice to know one of the more vulnerable components of the vehicle is protected.
- Long-Term Protection
These types of locks, especially the clamp style, are not just designed for cars. They can be applied to just about anything with wheels, such as an RV, a trailer, a golf cart or even a car that is currently off the road – a summer only convertible for example.
Popping a clamp style wheel lock (or two) onto your vehicle can help to provide real peace of mind during long-term storage.
- Protect your Wheels and Alloys
Finally, the main reason to use these products is also the simplest reason. You should use them because they will help to protect your wheel and alloys from getting stolen.
That’s it! It’s a simple point, no doubt, but that is what these tools are designed for and it is what they do.
Types of Wheels Locks
Broadly speaking there are two types of wheel lock on the market, the wheel clamp and the wheel nut lock.
- Wheel Clamp
As the name suggests these types of lock clamp around the wheel itself.
The big positive of this style of lock is the fact they provide a highly visible deterrent to thieves. That is the reason why they painted bright yellow by the way so that people can see they are locked in place. They also have the secondary benefit of helping prevent the entire car being stolen.
The drawback of this design is the fact they are a pain to put on! You have to get down onto your knees and fiddle around getting the clamping arms wrapped around the wheel and locked in place. The next morning you have to do the whole operation in reverse before you can drive off. Not much fun at all.
- Wheel Nut Lock
A far simpler style of lock. They simply replace one of the lug nuts on your wheel with a locked version that is difficult to remove without a key.
The positive is they are a fire and forget the style of protection. Once you’ve installed it, you can pretty much forget about it – through whatever you do, don’t lose the key!
The drawback of this design is the fact it is not as visual a deterrent. In fact, many thieves may not even realize it is in place until they try to steal the wheel or alloy. By that time, even if they don’t get away with the wheel or alloy itself the damage may already be done.
Best Wheel Locks For Cars FAQ:
Q: How do wheel locks work?
A: It will really depend on the type of wheel lock you have selected (see above for our breakdown of the different types of wheel locks available right now).
If you have gone with a locking lug nut style, this style of lock is designed to replace one or more of your wheel lug nuts. Once it is in place it can only be removed by a key, making it extremely difficult for the wheel to be removed by anyone not in possession of that key.
The clamp style of wheel lock is slightly different. Instead of being an integrated lock (as with a locking lug nut style) it is mounted externally to the wheel. Once it is “clamped” in place it secures not only any alloy mounts on the wheel but also the wheel itself.
Both types have their pros and cons, which again, we get into a little higher up in the article.
Q: How do I install wheel locks?
A: Again the choice of lock you have made will have an impact here. The locking lug nut style is very easy to install. Simply choose one of the nuts on your wheel and remove it with a wrench. Replace it with one of the locking wheel nuts you’ve just purchased and tighten with the key.
The clamp style you need to open with the key first. Once wide enough, slip it around your wheel, tighten and lock.
Q: How can I remove a locking wheel nut without a key?
A: Oh boy, if you’ve gone and lost the key you have three options:
Contact the manufacturer to request a replacement.
Go to a mechanic (and be prepared to drop a fair amount of money).
Get a socket wrench that just fits over the lock. Hammer it on and then very slowly unscrew the wheel lock.
Clamp locks are easier, just cut one of the clamp arms off with an angle grinder or a power tool with a metal cutting blade attachment.
Q: Where should I hide my wheel lock keys?
A: Clamp locks have normal keys, so just put it on the key fob with your car key.
Keys for locking lug nut style locks are a little cumbersome to put on the fob. You need to keep it in the car so you can remove the wheel in case of a puncture or breakdown.
Don’t just put it in the glove box though for a thief to find though. Hide it somewhere like the trunk and remember where you put it!
Our Top Pick
The market leader usually has that position because they are bringing something to the market no one else is. To our mind, that is certainly true with the Gorilla Automotive 61631 Acorn wheel lock. We are putting this product down very firmly at the head of the list marked best wheel locks for cars.
It has a wide range of sizes for the widest vehicle compatibility. There is the fact it is made of super tough cold-forged steel & has a very narrow grooved lock for extra security. There is also the fact they simply look good on your wheels.
That is a whole laundry list of reasons why we think this product is the best car wheel lock on the market right now.