The Best Wheel Locks to Prevent Theft – 2021 (Review & Guide)

best wheel locks

What’s the best wheel lock to deter thieves?

But not all will keep your wheels really secure. There are dozens and dozens of wheel locks on the market. Maybe a wheel clamp will work best for your security. Or maybe you’re looking to secure your spare tire since it’s externally mounted and just waiting for your local wheel thief.

There are dozens of wheel locks on the market making it confusing to determine which one is best. But which wheel lock will work best?

And did you know that stealing and reselling tires and rims is a huge business?

According to the Tire Industry Association1:

The Tire Industry Association estimates that the resale of stolen tires is a $1 million dollar a year industry. And likely more than that because there’s a big underworld of theft.

We’ve done the research to make it simpler for you to find the best wheel locks for your car, truck, or SUV.

IN THIS GUIDE

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR TOP OVERALL PICK > >

AT A GLANCE: 5 BEST WHEEL LOCKS

WHEEL LOCKSSPECS
OVERALL TOP PICK
Gorilla Automotive 61631 Acorn Gorilla Guard Locks
Diameter Size: 12mm
Thread Size: 1.50
Overall Length: 1.50
Seat: 60 degree conical
Qty: 4, Key(s): 1 (can order extra)
Other available sizes: ½”, 12mmx1.25, 14mmx1.50
TOP PICK – CONE SEAT
McGard 24157 Chrome Cone Seat Wheel Locks
Diameter Size: 12mm
Thread Size: 1.50”
Overall Length: 1.28”
Seat: Cone seat (aftermarket only)
Qty: 4, Key(s): 1
Other available sizes: yes
RUNNER UP
DPAccessories LCB3L6HE-BK04LK4 Black Wheel Locks
Diameter Size: 19mm
Thread Size: 1.50”
Overall Length: 1.39”
Seat: Conical 60 degree seat
Qty: 4, Key(s): 1
TOP PICK – SPARE TIRE CABLE LOCK
Trimax ST30 Trimaflex Spare Tire Cable Lock
Dimensions: 36” x .47”
Key(s): 1

OVERALL TOP PICK

Gorilla Automotive 61631 Acorn Gorilla Guard Locks

  • Diameter Size: 12mm
  • Thread Size: 1.50
  • Overall Length: 1.50
  • Seat: 60 degree conical
  • Qty: 4
  • Key(s): 1 (can order extra)
  • Other available sizes: ½”, 12mmx1.25, 14mmx1.50

What We Like

  • Made from cold-forged hardened steel making it much stronger than casted steel
  • Free-spinning outer sleeve protects the external security pattern because it rotates if a socket is put over the lock to remove it
  • Narrow groove for additional security
  • Purchase of another key is possible as long as you have your key-code and the keys are not available for purchase anywhere without the key-code (unlike other wheel lock manufacturers)
  • Available in 3 other sizes (see dimensions above)

What We Don’t Like

  • Some consumers report that the wheel locks rust sooner than anticipated

Summary: Consumers who’ve previously had the misfortune of their tires being stolen have installed the Gorilla 61681 acorn guard locks and are convinced they’ll no longer need to worry about finding their car sitting on blocks again. 

And they rave about the design of these wheel locks and appreciate that although they’re not 100% foolproof (no wheel lock is completely thief-proof), it’ll be very difficult for even the best of the best thieves to easily remove these locks. 

Even a mechanic with access to all his shop tools will need to work really hard to get these off. 

Not only do the multiple security design features such as the spinning exterior sleeve, narrow groove, and forged steel make this wheel lock one of the best on the market but you can’t just buy a 2nd key or a replacement key anywhere.

You’ll need the key-code to order directly from Gorilla. 

Given how difficult it is to remove these locks, you might want to buy a 2nd key and keep it somewhere safe.

Not all manufacturers make it this difficult for thieves. But Gorilla has put a lot of thought into their design and this is why it’s our top pick.


RUNNER UP

McGard 24157 Chrome Cone Seat Wheel Locks

  • Diameter Size: 12mm
  • Thread Size: 1.50”
  • Overall Length: 1.28”
  • Seat: Cone seat (aftermarket only)
  • Qty: 4
  • Key(s): 1
  • Other available sizes: yes

What We Like

  • Fully machined from restricted chemistry steel
  • Must have the key for installation and removal, making it extremely difficult for thieves to remove
  • The keys are computer-generated, making each key unique
  • Extra narrow pattern groove makes it difficult to remove with other tools
  • Nickel coating and microporous chrome layer prevents rust

What We Don’t Like

  • Some dispute on whether the Amazon Fitment tool is accurate. Use the manufacturer fitment guidelines to validate that these locks will fit your vehicle.

Summary: McGard has been in the business of protecting wheels and tires since1964, and supplies OEM wheel locks for most automobile manufactures. 

Fully machined from restricted chemistry steel, these McGard 24157 wheel locks are strong enough to stop thieves in their tracks. 

The manufacturing process includes through hardening which increases the hardness of the steel, increasing the strength of the steel.

The computer-generated keys will ensure that your key is unique so even the most diligent thieves won’t be able to source a duplicate key. 

RUNNER UP

DPAccessories LCB3L6HE-BK04LK4 Black Wheel Locks

  • Diameter Size: 19mm
  • Thread Size: 1.50”
  • Overall Length: 1.39”
  • Seat: Conical 60 degree seat
  • Qty: 4
  • Key(s): 1

What We Like

  • Unique key-to-lock combinations
  • Can get more keys by contacting DP Accessories with original key number
  • Solid black wheel locks look aesthetically pleasing
  • Compatible with aftermarket lug nuts

Summary: The DPAccessories LCB3L6HE-BK04LK4 Black Wheel Locks are solid one-piece locks that are constructed of cold-forged and heat-treated steel, providing great strength and durability making it extremely challenging if not almost impossible to be removed without the manufacturer’s key. 

Keep the thieves away with these closed end bulge acorn locks. 

These locks feature a proprietary cathodic black coating that gives the durability of high-quality chrome and the sharp look of satin black paint. 

DP Accessories states that they bost a lengthy multi-point quality control process ensures that every lock sold offers the very best quality and theft protection.

TOP PICK – SPARE TIRE CABLE LOCK

Trimax ST30 Trimaflex Spare Tire Cable Lock

  • Dimensions: 36” x .47”
  • Key(s): 1

What We Like:

  • Weather resistant lock cover
  • .47” thick cable
  • Great price point

What We Don’t Like

  • The key lock cover is flimsy
  • Lock corrosion

5 Types of Wheel Locks

best wheel locks to prevent theft

There are 5 types of wheel locks. 

For cars, trucks and SUVs, consider a wheel nut lock or a wheel lock clamp. 

If you have an external mounted spare tire, check out a spare tire cable lock. 

And if you’re towing a 5th wheel, look at the locks that are specifically designed to secure your 5th wheel. 

  1. Wheel Nut Lock – The wheel nut lock is the most common type of wheel lock. You can typically purchase them in a pack of 4 or 5 along with a key. The pack of 5 is handy if you have an externally mounted spare tire to secure. They’re usually very simple to attach. You remove one lug nut from each wheel and replace it with a wheel lug nut. A wheel lug nut looks similar to a regular lug nut but its design is more complex to make it very difficult to remove and it can only be removed with the key that came in the package. 
  2. Wheel Lock Clamp – A wheel clamp is clamped around the wheel and is very visible to the passersby. Typically bright yellow, red or orange, it’s easy to spot these and the hope is that potential thieves will leave your wheels alone when they see the clamps. The wheel can’t be removed without the key and since they’re typically made from solid steel, it’ll be difficult for the best of thieves to use a hacksaw on it
  3. Wheel Chock Lock – A wheel chock lock is clamped around the wheel, the same way that a wheel lock clamp it’s designed to prevent rollaway as well securing the wheel.
  4. Spare Tire Cable Lock – A spare tire cable lock is a lock that’s attached to a cable and wraps around the frame and has a lock with a key.
  5. 5th Wheel Lock – A 5th wheel lock doesn’t technically lock a wheel but secures your 5th wheel so that it can’t be towed away you’ve stepped away.

6 Things To Look For In Wheel Locks

best wheel locks to prevent theft

When shopping for wheel locks, consider the following when making your final purchase decision:

  1. Design – The standard wheel lock is designed to fit like a lug nut so that you can replace a regular lug nut with a wheel nut lock. There are other mechanisms that can also make it difficult for a thief to steal a wheel, such as a wheel clamp. Wheel clamps attach to the wheel making it difficult to remove the wheel. A wheel clamp needs to be removed before you can drive the vehicle so if you need to drive the vehicle daily or regularly, a wheel lock makes more sense. But if you’re parking a car for a longer period of time, a clamp is another good option.
  2. Lock complexity – The more complex the design of a wheel lock, the more difficult it is to remove. Look for a wheel lock that isn’t easy to remove with a wrench and check to see how complicated the mechanism is. How easy will it be for a thief to attach a wrench and remove the lock?
  3. Durability – If a wheel lock is going to stand the test of a thief, it needs to be made out of solid, forged steel. Other metals can easily be destroyed and removed.
  4. Ease of Use – A wheel lock needs to be simple to put on and remove but not easy for a thief to remove. This means that with the use of a key, you can get the job done but a thief won’t be able to screw it off unless they have super-powers. Typically, wheel locks are designed to be installed once and left until you need to remove the wheel for seasonal change or because there’s a flat. The wheel clamps are better suited for use on a vehicle that isn’t going to be used often but is going to be parked for a long period of time.
  5. Price point – How much money do you want to spend? For the typical car, truck or SUV, you should be able to spend somewhere in the neighbourhood of $30 for a set of 4 wheel locks and 1 key to get a solid set of wheel locks.
  6. Quality finish – Wheel locks just like the wheels and lugs are exposed to the elements – snow, rain, mud, rocks, road salt etc.. all take toll and can easily cause rust, corrosion, chips and scratches. If you want to maintain nice looking wheels, be sure that the wheel locks you get have a protective finish suchs as a powder coating.

Benefits of Wheel Locks

The benefits of having wheel locks include:

  1. Deter thieves – If you have wheel locks or a wheel clamp then you’ll deter thieves. Once they try to remove one tire and realize that it’s near to impossible, they’ll leave your car alone
  2. Overnight security – If you park your car outside and it’s not uncommon for wheels to be stolen, you’ll sleep better knowing that you’ve put wheel locks on or maybe you decided a wheel clamp would work better because it’s very visible. Regardless, you’ll get a better night’s sleep knowing that you’ll wake up to your car still having wheels and not sitting on blocks.
  3. Long Term Security – If you park your car for extended periods of time, why not install wheel clamps. They are typically very visible with bright yellow, red or orange colors so a would-be thief can see from a distance that it would be easy to remove your wheels. You could even put wheel locks on each of the tires so there’s a double layer of security. Not a bad idea if you’ll be leaving your vehicle parked for a weekend, a week or two or even longer while you’re off vacationing.
  4. Big Bang for Your Buck – Spending the money and time to put wheel locks or wheel clamps on your vehicle is a fraction of the cost it will cost to replace a set of wheels and rims. 

Wheel Locks

Gorilla Automotive 71681NBC Acorn Black Chrome Wheel Locks (1/2″ Thread Size)

  • Dimensions: ½”, 12 mm x 1.25”, 12 mm x 1.50”
  • Length: 1.40”
  • Seat: 60 degree conical
  • Key(s):
  • Hex size: 13/16”

FEATURES  Acorn wheel locks, with solid black paint that doesn’t wear off easily. Consumers rave about these wheel locks for those with black rims who don’t want the typical chrome finish. 

McGard 24216 Black Cone Seat Wheel Locks (M14X1.5 Thread Size)

  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Length: 1.639
  • Seat: Cone seat
  • Key(s): 1 
  • Hex size: 21mm and 22mm

FEATURES  Top quality wheel locks that are low profile and don’t stick out like many other wheel locks. A great option for those with black rims who want coordinating black wheel locks instead of chrome.

McGard 24215 Chrome Cone Seat Wheel Locks (M14 X 1.5 Thread Size)

  • Dimensions: 7.3 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Length: 1.639
  • Thread size: M14 x 1.5”
  • Seat: Cone seat
  • Key(s):
  • Hex size: 21mm and 22mm

FEATURES Great option if you’re looking for a chrome wheel lock set. McGard has been in business since 1964 so you can be sure that you’re getting great value. If you’re looking for black wheel locks, check out McGard 24216.

White Knight 40400SOGT Wheel Lock

  • Length: 1.41
  • Thread size: ½”-20, 12mm x 1.5”
  • Seat: 60 degree conical
  • Key(s): 1

FEATURES The fact that you can get these wheel locks in 9 different colors is amazing. Honestly, if you’re looking to add some jazz to your wheels, these are the wheel locks for you. Available in matte or pearl black, gold, orange, blue, red, purple, pink and green.


OEM Wheel Locks

Gorilla 38431XLBC Black Wheel Lock – Chrome Ball Seat (12mm x 1.50 Thread Size)

FITMENT: Honda, Acura

  • Dimensions: 12 mm x 1.50”
  • Length: 1.38”
  • Seat: Ball seat
  • Key(s):
  • Hex size: 13/16”

Features: Great looking wheel locks with a chrome ball seat for Honda and Acura. Fit well but a bit longer than the Honda lug nuts so they stick out a bit further which is not a problem according to consumers.

McGard 24538 Chrome Cone Seat Wheel Lock (1/2″-20 Thread Size) – Set of 5

FITMENT: 1971-1992 Dodge Ramcharger, 1983-1990 Ford Bronco II, 1960-2013 Jeep CJ, Cherokee, Wrangler, Liberty and travel trailers as reported by consumers

  • Dimensions: 12 mm x 1.50”
  • Length: 1.46”
  • Thread size: ½” – 20
  • Seat: Cone seat
  • Key(s):
  • Hex size: 13/16”

Features: Consumers rave about these wheel locks and dedicated customers have been relying on McGuard and this particular lock model to keep their wheels secure, for many, many years. And the fact that it comes with a set of 5 wheel locks is fantastic because then spare tires can be kept secure as well.

Genuine Subaru B321SFG000 Wheel Lock Kit

FITMENT: Subaru

Fits 468 Subaru variants, 10 models manufactured between 2009 and 2020. Simple but effective, these wheel locks will help keep your Subaru wheels secure.

Genuine Jeep Accessories 82211405 One-Piece Wheel Lock Kit

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FITMENT: 2007-2012 Wrangler

Mopar thought it through when they created a set of 5 wheel locks with a key. Most Jeeps are going to have a spare tire mounted on the exterior, making them an easy target for thieves.

Mopar Jeep Wrangler JL Wheel Lock Locking Lug Nut Kit OEM

FITMENT: 2018-2021 Wrangler JL, 2021 Jeep Gladiator

If you’re driving a newish Wrangler model, then this set of Mopar Jeep Wrangler JL wheel locks will work well. The set of 5 ensures that you have 1 for each working wheel and 1 for the spare tire that is undoubtedly mounted somewhere on the exterior, easily accessible to thieves. These locks will at the very least deter and make a thief want to work really hard.  

TOYOTA Genuine Accessories 00276-00900 Wheel Lock

FITMENT: 185 models including Corolla, Prius, Prius Plug In, Sienna, Solara, Matrix, MR2 Spyder, Celica, Camry, Avalon, Scion, Tacoma, Highlander, Yaris, Venza, Rav4, C-HR, from 2003 to 2020

Each TOYOTA Genuine Accessories 00276-00900 Wheel Lock set includes four-wheel locks and a matching key tool, and Toyota designed the key and the factory lug nut wrench to be compatible. And what’s also great about the design is that there’s a designated place for the wheel lock key in the tool tray near the lug wrench. And if you need to replace the key, reach out to Toyota customer service. 

Gorilla Automotive 73631T Toyota O.E. Wheel Locks With Washer (12mm x 1.50 Thread Size)

  • Length: 1.54”
  • Thread size: 12mm x 1.50”
  • Seat: Toyota mag shank with .550″ shank/.725″ shank diameter
  • Key(s):
  • Hex size: 13/16”

The Gorilla Automotive 73631T Toyota OE wheel locks are available in a 4 pack with a key or a 5 pack with key – a great option for spare tires that look like easy picking for thieves. Durable and easy to install but difficult for a thief to easily remove without the key. Includes a registration card that if you keep it somewhere handy, it’ll make it easy to order a replacement key, if you should need to.


Wheel Lock Clamps

VaygWay Tire Clamp Wheel Lock

The VaygWay is a bright yellow and red wheel clamp that won’t be easily missed by thieves which makes it a great deterrent. Made with high-quality ABS for durability and the PVC coating will prevent scratches or damage to the wheel rims. Simple, fast, lightweight, and easy to put on and remove. And the fact that it comes with 2 sets of keys is fantastic.

Goplus Heavy Duty Trailer Lock Wheel Clamp

  • Material: Steel
  • Finish: Powder coated
  • Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 4 inches

This is a fantastic option for keeping your wheels secure. Because the Goplus wheel lock can be adjusted to fit 7 to 11-inch width tires, it’ll fit most cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATV’s, RV’s, golf carts, small aircraft, boat trailers, scooters, go-karts, and lawnmowers. This versatility means that you can move the clamp from various vehicles as needed. Maybe you only need it on your RV in the winter? Then you can attach it to your golf car in the Summer. It’s made of heavy-duty steel but it’s also reasonably lightweight at only 5.3 lbs making it easy to put on and take off when needed, easy and fast. And the wheel lock has an anti-slip and soft grip to protect your wheel rims from scratches and damage.


5th Wheel Locks

AMPLOCK U-LPCVR 5th Wheel Lock for King Pin

  • Weight: 8.6 lbs
  • Dimensions: 17.8 x 15.2 x 21.6 cm

The Amplock U-LPCVR 5th wheel lock pin is conical to prevent traction with chains and fitting of modified hitches when unhitched. Made of materials that resist corrosion and it’s simple to use with AMPLOCK’S push and lock system.

OKLEAD Heavy Duty Steel Kingpin Lock

  • Material: Solid steel pipe
  • Finish: Powder coated
  • Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 4 inches

The OKLEAD Heavy Duty Steel Kingpin Lock covers the entire Kingpin making it almost impossible for thieves to do their job because it’s impossible for a trailer to connect with a 5th wheel while the lock is installed. The bright yellow or red color is very visible which should deter potential thieves from even trying to roll away with your 5th wheel. And because it’s made of solid steel pipe, not casting, there’s no easy way to remove it without the key.

CURT 23255 5th Wheel Trailer Lock

  • Material: Alloy steel, aluminum
  • Dimensions: 6 x 5.5 x 3 inches
  • Weight: .1 lbs

The CURT 23255 5th wheel trailer lock is made with a high-strength steel pin and an aluminum bracket. It’s so easy to install that you’ll be wishing you had bought it and installed it sooner – sure would have saved you a lot of stress and worry. With a 2-inch diameter opening, it will fit almost any 2-inch king pin making it really versatile. And you won’t need to worry about rust or corrosion because when you buy the lock, you get a watertight dust cap. Not only that, if you’re prone to losing keys, you get 2 with this lock which means you can keep one on you and one in another safe spot so that if you lose the other one, you have a backup.


Spare Tire Locks

BOLT Lock 5922986 Spare Tire and Wheel Lock for 2007-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK

If you’re looking for wheel locks that are versatile, the BOLT 5922986 wheel lock fits most OEM and aftermarket alloy wheels replacing one 1/2″-20 thread lug nut with a stainless steel pin.

And what’s great about these wheel locks is that the lock is keyed to match and open with your Jeep Wrangler ignition key. Which means that as long as you have your ignition key handy, you’ll have the wheel lock key easily accessible without having to search for it. 

The auto-return spring locks automatically when the key is removed and the six plate tumbler sidebar prevents picking and bumping.

Consumers report that they like this for any wheel and many use it for their spare tire but also mention that it does stick out quite a bit after being installed. Still secure, but you may not fit a tire cover on.


Large Volume Pack

Gorilla Automotive 96643BDX (14mm x 1.50 Thread Size, 20-Pack)

  • Material: Steel
  • Key: Dual hex lock key (13/16″, 7/8″), works with factory lug wrenches
  • Thread size: 14mm x 1.50 thread size

If you have more than 1 vehicle you want to secure, along with some spare tires, then the Gorilla Automotive 96643BDX kit is of great value, available in a pack of 20 or 24 black locks.

Manufactured by Gorilla, you can be certain that you’re buying great value. Each pack includes 1 key which will make it easy for installing and removing from all your vehicles – just be sure that you keep the key in an easy to remember a location.


FAQs for The Best Wheel Locks

Do wheel locks really prevent theft?

Yes, wheel locks do prevent theft. If you buy a wheel lock that is made by a well known and well respected manufacturer, such as Gorilla or McGuard, the locks will be well designed, have a specially made key to remove the lock and will be made of solid steel. All these factors make it very difficult if not impossible for even the best of the best thieves to steal your wheels.

Can I get a replacement locking wheel nut key?

All quality wheel locks come with a key that is designed to work with only the wheel locks in the package. Most come with 1 key but on occasion you’ll find a set that includes 2 keys. Most but not all manufacturers give you the ability to order a 2nd key. As long as you have the key code, you can request another key from the manufacturer.

What if I lost my wheel lock key?

If you’ve lost your wheel lock key, you have a couple of options. You can call your local mechanic who might be able to remove them. Otherwise, if you have the wheel lock key code that came with the wheel locks, you can order another key from the manufacturer using the wheel lock key code.

Can you drive a car with only 3 lug nuts?

Yes, you can drive a car with only 3 lug nuts.

What order do you tighten lug nuts?

The right way to tighten lug nuts is to tighten them in a cross order, starting the top one, then the bottom one, the left one and then the last one.

References

  1. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/transportation/fl-ne-tires-stolen-south-florida-20180928-story.html

Last update on 2021-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API