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New solid steel hooks add security and work as a visual deterrent. Larger diameter makes it ideal for larger trucks, SUVs, and recreational vehicles. Can be installed behind the steering wheel to avoid damage. Laser-encrypted keys resist picking, hammering, and freon intrusion.
Some units ship with sticky residue.
Universal fit for a range of vehicles. Chromoly steel construction can resist sawing, hammering, freon, and prying attacks. Locks without needing a key. A good visual and physical deterrent against would-be thieves.
Plastic coating has some peeling issues.
Top-only design may be more effective for some users than shaft-and-hook locks. Solidified steel is durable and tough to cut through. Easy to use and engage. Universal fit. Rugged locking cylinder with crescent key design.
Because of its design, this option will not protect against airbag theft.
Still the standard in steering wheel locks. Great fit on most vehicles. One-motion locking without the need for a key is convenient. Solid construction adds peace of mind.
Heavier than competing products.
Designed to protect the driver and the integrity of the driver’s vehicle. Simple assembly, reassembly, and installation. Does not scratch the wheel or wheel frame. Installs without disrupting the vehicle’s airbags. Window breaker escape tool included.
Key may stick inside lock when unlocking the device.
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A determined thief will go to great lengths to steal your vehicle, but you can intimidate them or prevent theft entirely with a steering wheel lock. What may seem like the last line of defense is actually one of the first since a thief will likely notice the lock before they break a window.
If you’re in the market for a steering wheel lock, one of the first things you’ll notice is how much choice you have: a lot! But while these products all perform the same basic task, they don’t all go about it the same way. Choosing the right one for your vehicle may seem a bit daunting.
This guide will examine the various types of steering wheel locks available and shine a light on some of their features and other considerations — from construction and use to unique features and price — that you should take into account before purchasing one. We will also offer up some of our personal favorite steering wheel locks and share why we recommend them.
Steering wheel locks essentially keep thieves from being able to steer your car. Even if they can start it, they will be stuck going in one direction. Even more importantly, steering wheel locks present an obstacle for a thief to overcome. Oftentimes the mere presence of a lock on your steering wheel will cause a thief to pass your car by and search for an easier target.
The classic design of a steering wheel lock is a telescoping rod with two hooks and a lock, To use, you attach one hook to the steering wheel, then extend the other hook to the other side of the wheel and lock the rod in place. To free your wheel, unlock the rod and store it away until the next time you wish to use it.
The basic design of the steering wheel lock keeps the steering wheel from turning. Some classic steering wheel locks also attach to the clutch or brake pedal, making them even more secure. Other models use a modified design to lock up the steering wheel or even cover the entire steering wheel in a locked cover.
The entire premise of this product is security, so it should come as no surprise that steering wheel locks typically use a strong material in both the shaft and hooks. This will invariably be some form of steel, be it solid steel, tempered steel, or a chromoly steel alloy. Titanium is also sometimes used for elements of a steering wheel lock. Steel is not only durable and difficult to damage deliberately but is also a potent visual deterrent.
Some manufacturers also coat the shaft and hooks with a softer plastic or foam material. Though they are part aesthetic, these coatings can also keep your steering wheel from becoming scratched up when the lock is in place. Any coating used should not peel or easily break down through use or exposure to UV rays.
One big question you should ask yourself before buying one of these locks is: will it fit your vehicle? Some steering wheel locks claim to offer a universal fit, extending far enough to cover everything from a Mini Cooper to a Silverado truck. With others, you might have trouble fitting them to trucks, SUVs, and other recreational vehicles.
Here’s a general rule of thumb: the larger it telescopes out, the larger the steering wheel it will work with. Check a steering wheel lock listing for dimensions on how far it can telescope, and measure your steering wheel to verify a fit.
You should also know how short the lock can become, either through telescoping or folding. The more compact it can become, the easier it will be to store when you’re not using it.
In addition to physically protecting your car, the appearance of a steering wheel lock can also be a powerful deterrent. The more durable it appears to be, the more likely thieves will be to leave it alone. Bare steel is a great deterrent, but some manufacturers will also cover the shaft and hooks with a brightly colored yellow or red coating to draw attention to it.
Physical design elements such as twin hooks on each end will also tend to enhance the visual deterrent factor of the lock.
A steering wheel lock should be easy to both engage and disengage (so long as you have the key). The best of these require no key to “arm” them. They hook to one end of your steering wheel and just pull out to the proper length to automatically lock. Your steering wheel lock should also be simple to remove from the steering wheel once unlocked, so you are not spending time on a winter morning struggling to start driving.
Some models require you to reposition the steering wheel before engaging the lock, which may be frustrating.
Much like the shaft and hooks of a steering wheel lock, the lock itself should be durable enough to withstand any hammering, drilling, sawing, or Freon attempts to break it. The majority of locks offer a reinforced design with a flush fit to also thwart prying attempts.
Keys for these locks are typically laser cut or encrypted, making them much harder to pick. Some locks also use crescent-shaped keys or do away with keys altogether in favor of a combination lock. If you buy a steering wheel lock that uses keys, know the number of keys you are receiving (the standard is three) and how easy it will be to purchase extras in case you need to.
While they are pretty straightforward in their purpose, some steering wheel locks include additional features that may be attractive to some buyers. Two that you may run into include hardened points and lights.
Steering wheel locks typically run between $20 and $60, with an average price in the $25 to $30 range.
The lower range is stocked with basic shaft and hook locks that are simple yet effective. At a higher price point you will tend to find more durability in the form of a tougher steel that will hold up better to attempts to breach it.
Pricier locks will usually offer a wider range of fit and extra features. This is the range where you will also find locks that deviate from the basic shaft/hood design, with some models like the Disklok covers costing over $100.
Be sure you research what type of warranty a steering wheel lock is offering, as they can vary considerably from no warranty at all to warranties lasting a year or two. Also, look into what cash guarantees they offer against your insurance deductible if the lock fails to deter a thief.
Q. Will a steering wheel lock keep my car from being towed?
A. While a steering wheel lock is effective at locking up the wheel, it will not keep your car from being towed.
Q. Is it possible to have an extra key made for these locks?
A. Because of the designs of the keys used for steering wheel locks, having an extra key made is usually not as easy as heading down to your local hardware store. Your best bet is to contact the manufacturer, who should be able to send you an additional key. Note that you may need a unique identifier number that shipped originally with the steering wheel lock.
Q. What is Freon, and how do thieves use it to disable steering wheel locks?
A. In addition to sawing, drilling, hammering, and prying at a steering wheel lock to try and disable it, some thieves resort to canned refrigerants such as Freon. The super cold Freon is sprayed into the lock and allowed to evaporate. As it does, the lock metal becomes brittle and can sometimes be shattered with a hammer.
A quality steering wheel lock should be constructed from a metal that will not become brittle when subjected to a Freon attack.
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