Best Steering Wheel Locks

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
334 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best steering wheel locks

Last Updated September 2020

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.

Chromoly steel is used in some steering wheel locks. This exceedingly strong material is especially difficult to saw through.

How does a steering wheel lock work?

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.

Key considerations

Construction

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.

Size

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

Laser-cut keys used for some of these steering wheel locks are also called sidewinder keys for the snake-like grooves that are cut into the edges of the keys.

Features

Appearance

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.

How easy is it to use?

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.

The lock and key

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.

Extra features

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.

  • Hardened points: Steering wheel locks that incorporate hardened points can be used to smash out car glass in case you need to escape through the window. If a steering wheel lock has a hardened point, be sure that it also includes a protective cap so you don’t accidentally damage a window.
  • Lights: While rare, you will occasionally find a steering wheel lock with a built-in blinking light feature. These are purely for drawing attention to the lock and will help to scare off any would-be thieves.
DID YOU KNOW?

In the United States, a car is reported stolen every 6.5 minutes.

Steering wheel lock prices

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

While the majority of locks will telescope closed to create a more compact storage footprint, some will achieve this by folding up.

Tips

  • Some steering wheel locks will not work on modified steering wheels.
  • A lock that is both lightweight and closes up to a compact size will be easier to store and carry around when not in use.
  • While rare, some manufacturers do away with keys altogether and use a combination lock as the securing mechanism.
  • To lock the steering wheel securely in place so it cannot be used, be sure to turn the wheel one complete rotation before attaching the lock.
  • Steering wheel locks that mount across the airbag are also able to thwart the risk of airbag theft.
  • Even with a steering wheel lock, you should still practice safe parking tips. Some of these include: always locking your car; never leaving your car running unattended; and parking in well-lit areas that are not isolated.
  • Steering wheel locks can not only deter thieves by locking up your steering wheel, but can also be used as an emergency window breaking tool or as a defensive club in case you are attacked while in your car.

Other products we considered

There are a number of steering wheel locks available on the market these days, and we wanted to mention a few more that caught our eye while researching this niche.

The first is the MONOJOY Car Steering Wheel Lock, which ships with three laser encrypted keys and offers a universal fit. It also folds up for easy storage.

The HAODELE Steering Wheel Lock provides a choice of colors and a safety glass hammer in case you find yourself trapped in your car. It also provides you with three keys to reduce your chances of preventing yourself from driving.

Another option with spare keys is the Disklok Steering Wheel Locking Cover, a full-cover locking solution for those seeking something a bit different. This locking cover ships in three different sizes to accommodate the size of your steering wheel.

While you may think that only luxury cars are at risk of being stolen, statistics show that the Honda Accord tops the list of U.S. car thefts.

FAQ

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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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
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The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera Pasturel
    Ciera Pasturel
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda Snowden
    Melinda Snowden
    Web Producer
  • Rich Gray
    Rich Gray
    Writer

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