8 Best Steering Wheel Locks | February 2017
- backed by a lifetime warranty
- light but powerful
- black plastic comes off easily
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- very easy to install
- compact design makes storage simple
- extension is a little flimsy
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- remote control for siren
- very easy to mount
- batteries deplete quickly
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- includes two security locks
- prevents steering wheel from turning
- no spare keys available
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- universal fit on cars and suvs
- cro-moly steel construction
- seems to lose strength when extended
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- made from solid steel
- ball-lock design with key
- eight color options
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
- resists prying and hammering
- inexpensive option
- recognizable deterrent
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
- keys are laser encrypted
- universal fit for all vehicle types
- guaranteed against owner's insurance
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
Even The Good Thieves Must Pass
Groucho Marx once famously said, "I don't want to belong to any club that would accept people like me as a member." It's just the type of unexpected and ironic comment that made Marx's comedy so unique and unforgettable. I think, however, that if we were talking about The Club–as in any steering wheel-mounted deterrent to vehicular theft–Mr. Marx might just have made an exception.
That's because nobody wants their car stolen. Other than having your car totaled while you're away from it, I couldn't imagine a bigger bummer upon returning to your parking spot than to find it empty.
A steering wheel lock serves a dual purpose for keeping crooks from commandeering your car, drastically decreasing the likelihood that you'll ever have to handle a theft situation.
The first method by which a steering wheel lock does its duty is a visual one. Imagine you're a car thief. Let's say you're stealing the cars for a good reason, so you don't have to feel guilty. Maybe the mob has your cousin held against his will and they won't release him until you deliver them a certain number of vehicles. I think that's a movie by now.
So, there you are casing out a poorly lit portion of a stadium parking lot. The game inside is a real nail-biter, so even the security detail is distracted. You pass silently among the rides, looking for just the right make and model, but, when you finally find it, it has got a steering wheel lock installed. Odds are, for the management of your personal risk, you're going to move on and look for a suitable substitute.
The second method comes into play if you desperately need that specific make and model and it's the only such car in the lot. You slip a slim jim through the window, pop the lock, break the ignition, and start the engine. Then the real trouble starts.
That steering wheel lock has the steering column locked in the position of a hard left turn. It has a little play, but you don't have the keys, so there's no way you could ever get it straightened out without the sawing through the lock itself, and there's no time for that. At this point, you jump out of the car and call your Aunt and Uncle to tell them you did everything you could to save their child from the clutches of the mafia.
Looks, In This Case, Can't Be Deceiving
A lot of the steering wheel locks on our list bear a striking resemblance to the most well-known lock on the market, The Club. It's sensible to copy that design; it's sold millions of units and is proven to reduce theft numbers in some communities by as much as 45%.
That isn't the only option out there, though, and the differences between what I'll call the standard design and the other locks available are primarily aesthetic and secondarily functional, since they all lock your wheel.
On the aesthetic end of the spectrum, manufacturers and law enforcement agencies repeatedly tout the visibility of the standard steering wheel lock design. Its very presence is an automatic deterrent. There are some steering wheel locks, however, that are built to go unseen.
It's understandable that if you pay a certain premium for a flashy ride, you might not want to sully its image with a bar of bright metal coated with an even brighter synthetic rubber. Instead, you might prefer a more understated locking mechanism that will still keep your car from getting stolen, but without any kind of eyesore.
Of course, an understated lock might lead a potential thief to still bust through your window or wreak havoc on your door's electronics while fishing around with a hanger or a slim jim, damage that inevitably carries with it a significant deductible from your insurance company. A more visible lock ought to send the thieves packing long before it ever comes to this.
A couple of the more advanced locks out there also have an audio component to them, an alarm that will sound at ear-splitting decibels should a criminal attempt to confiscate your wheels. The best locks, in our opinion, combine all three elements: visibility, vehicular immobilization, and an alarm.
Better Than Chains
During the Korean War, soldiers immobilized their vehicles against theft by locking the steering columns with chains. One soldier from this period returned from the battlefront to his home in Pennsylvania, where he conceived of the device we now know as The Club.
It was a good long while between his return and The Club's 1986 introduction to the marketplace, but it made an enormous splash. In the years since, dozens of companies have successfully and unsuccessfully stolen his designs, making them either a little better or a lot worse depending on the materials used.
In the 1990s, The Club's advertising campaign exploded, and the videos–all of which now seem hilariously dated–are just waiting for you to enjoy them online.
Other companies sought to improve on what were perceived to be flaws in The Club's design, implementing totally new shapes and concepts to the locking of a steering column. They all work better than a length of chain, so check out the features on each and choose wisely.