- 1 Wheel Locks: The Second Line of Defense
- 2 Quick Look: Top 5 Steering Wheel Locks
- 3 The Club 3000 Twin Hooks Steering Wheel Lock
- 4 Eforcar Universal Anti-Theft Wheel Lock
- 5 Master Lock 263DAT Titanium
- 6 Aumo-Mate Folding Universal Steering Wheel Lock
- 7 The Club 1103 LX Series Steering Wheel Lock
- 8 Disklok Security Device
- 9 Overall thoughts
Wheel Locks: The Second Line of Defense
The thief slides the slim jim in between the driver’s side window and the rubber seal. After fiddling for a split second, he lifts up the tool and opens the now unlocked door, already getting ready to hotwire the car – and then sees the most dreaded sight, a most vile object that haunts the dreams of many a carjacker…
Steering wheel locks (not to be confused with either wheel locks, which latch onto the vehicle’s wheels) are a secure second line of defense when it comes to ensuring someone doesn’t drive off with your preferred method of going to work every day. While many modern cars have built-in steering wheel locks, these can sometimes be bypassed with ease, and not all models sport the feature. While the locking mechanisms of car doors are fairly complex, which is their failing and why even high-tech vehicles can get boosted, steering wheel locks revel in simplicity.
Once the thief has gotten into the car, they will need to perform driving maneuvers more complex than moving forward in a straight line, hence the use of the steering wheel is necessary. Wheel locks seek to impede their ability to use said wheel, most often by sticking a big metal rod in the way. Fairly simple, extremely effective. The locking mechanisms on wheel locks are generally made to be far harder to pick or bypass than that of the actual car door (which raises some interesting questions) and I’d like to see a human being possessing enough brute strength to remove said lock, mixed with enough finesse not to destroy the entire wheel assembly in the process.
Some steering wheel locks take a different approach, but the basic idea is always to put some kind of physical barrier which prevents the would-be thief from making off with the car. Wheel locks double as preventative measures, as unless your windows have been tinted, someone screwing around with your door will at least glance into the car itself. Since the main tenets of thievery are speed and stealth, bothering with a wheel lock at all isn’t something most thieves will risk.
Nonetheless, you’re here to secure your car, which means securing it against the fraction of thieves who will actually try to get past the wheel lock, hence you need one that stands up to punishment. We often say this when it comes to similar security products, but since chances are you’ll only be buying a wheel lock once per car (you’re even likely to switch cars sooner than steering wheel locks), you should look at this as an investment and be ready to spend a larger sum. This doesn’t mean rush to buy the most expensive model immediately, but approach the situation with the mindset that a pricier model may be what prevents you from losing your vehicle altogether, which is likely to be a bigger loss.
Quick Look: Top 5 Steering Wheel Locks
|1||Disklok||• Spinning metal shroud|
• Complete immobilization
|2||Aumo-Mate||• Dashboard immobilizer|
• Elegant design
|• Honks if tampered with|
• Sturdy design
|• Complex operation|
|3||Master Lock 263DAT Titanium||• Double hook bar lock |
• Titanium bar
|• Extremely strong |
• Double hook
|• Not universal|
|4||Eforcar Steering Wheel Lock||• Dashboard immobilizer|
• Key cannot be duplicated
|• Not universal|
|5||The Club 1103 LX||• Single hook bar lock |
• Laser encrypted keys
|• Strong |
|• Can damage steering wheel|
The Club 3000 Twin Hooks Steering Wheel Lock
When you’re looking at steering wheel locks online, The Club is the manufacturer you’ll bump into most of the time. While there are others out there, as you will see in the rest of this guide, The Club has saturated the market with models suitable for all cars and filling just about every price range. The 3000 is a cheaper model but still offers some perks over many other products due to its Twin Hook design. Though unrelated to the performance of the model itself, keep in mind that there is an odd price hike for the black colored version compared to the yellow, even though the color is the only difference and the features are identical.
The main selling point of the 3000 model from The Club is the Twin Hook design. Most steering wheel locks of which bar type, where the steel bar extends to the side and greatly restricts wheel movement have one hook on each interior side of the wheel’s negative area. This means there is a chance to move, albeit slightly, the lock around the circumference of the wheel. While actually using the wheel is still impossible, this movement may give would be thieves ideas. The twin hook design allows you to fix the location of the lock by having the two hooks wrap around the stems of the wheel’s connection to the central axle, making it much more secure.
The lock is designed to be as universal as possible, making it a fit for almost all steering wheel sizes and types. Locking it doesn’t require the keys as expanding it can be done freely, only pushing it back together requires it to be unlocked. The material of the bar itself is resistant to all kinds of tools and even freon, which is often used to get by cheaper or older models.
The lock housing has been reinforced since a common technique of getting through these locks is to break off the lock assembly itself, which is often more vulnerable than the steel bar. The lock is of the hard-to-pick variety, but that just means getting through it will take more time.
One issue with this model is that the ridges in the bar which allow for length adjustment are also a structural weakness. If a suitable fulcrum is found and a lever to exert pressure, it is actually possible to bend it out of shape and thus remove it, which is a pretty serious oversight. One way to prevent this is to turn the wheel into a position so that the lock is secured without any suitable fulcrums, such as the dashboard.
The affordable 3000 model from The Club has a lot going for it, and packs some great features, but we just can’t let the fact slide that this steering wheel lock can be bent without too much issue. Though technically preventable, the user shouldn’t be the one who has to pay attention to this sort of thing.
Eforcar Universal Anti-Theft Wheel Lock
Eforcar’s wheel lock represents a different type than The Club’s 3000 model. Instead of extending out to the side and knocking into where the transmission assembly should be, or the driver’s legs, this model has a steel section resting on the dashboard right in front of the wheel, preventing it from being turned almost at all. The bracket’s curvature physically prevents the rod from being rotated out of the way, and almost the entire device is wrapped around the locking mechanism meaning you can’t break through it. It’s certainly an effective approach to the issue, and represents one of the simplest solutions to the problem – but also one of the greatest.
Eforcar’s model uses a somewhat flattened steel immobilizer, which is again preferable to a fully round rod. A round rod has no preferred direction of deformation if bent, meaning with enough force you might be able to get it out of the way, however the shape of this beam means it tends to deform in one of two directions, and the orientation mean both directions would keep it in position to prevent the wheel from turning.
The main feature of the Eforcar steering wheel lock has to be its sheer efficiency. It doesn’t have any useless frills and won’t win any beauty contests, but it works. It isn’t a particularly pricey model, the lock is of the unpickable variety and the type and construction mean it won’t be bypassed. You’d need some serious equipment and plenty of time to get through this thing.
Beyond the shape and strength, there isn’t much to say about Eforcar’s steering wheel lock. The security keys are nigh impossible to duplicate. One problem you may encounter if you have an older car, or even a classic, is that the thin steering wheels are ill-suited for this model. Designed for modern, thick wheels, it will just slide around thinner wheels providing no security at all, and unfortunately, the diameter of the lock cannot be adjusted, making it not as universal as the name would have you believe.
If, in spite our take on approaching steering wheel locks as a long-term investment, you’d prefre stick to not so expensive models, and your steering wheel also happens to be thick, you can’t really go wrong with the Eforcar Universal (not) Anti-Theft steering wheel lock.
Master Lock 263DAT Titanium
The 263DAT is another twin hook steering wheel lock from the manufacturer Master Lock, which really is almost identical to The Club’s 3000 model with a key difference – it has a stronger material without the structure-impeding ridges in the middle. In this case, the “Titanium” moniker isn’t just a marketing ploy, but the thing is actually made out of titanium. While this material isn’t the invincible armor of the gods popular culture makes it out to be, when used correctly it does offer more strength than steel does.
The Master Lock 263DAT excels above all else in pure strength. Unlike The Club 3000, this isn’t something you can bend without seriously heavy machinery, and a car thief will certainly not be equipped the kind of tools needed to accomplish this. The titanium bar lacks any given structural weak point, and the benefits of the double hook design are present here as well.
263DAT’s lock assembly is embedded well into the construction of the whole device making it particularly secure.
Extending the bar does not require a key, only retracting it for removal requires it to be unlocked. When in a locked position, a small red LED light flashes most likely as deterrent as a similar light is often used to indicate car alarms. Additionally, Master Lock offers a limited lifetime warranty on the 263DAT.
One possible downside of the double hook construction is that not all steering wheels are built in a way to be compatible. Some of the struts might be too thick or positioned such that the lock doesn’t fit. It’s hard to make sure beforehand whether the lock fits your particular steering wheel.
Master Lock’s 263DAT is a prime example of an extending bar lock, ticking all the boxes required for success. While the double hook design means not all steering wheels support this lock, it does mean that those which do support it will enjoy a greater measure of security. This model offers great perks at a relatively low price point as well, making it an attractive choice.
Aumo-Mate Folding Universal Steering Wheel Lock
This steering wheel lock from Aumo-Mate is a fantastic and creative solution which manages to fit more interesting features into the device without losing sight of the steering wheel lock’s roots of being a simple but effective solution. In addition, it also manages to do this while looking really stylish.
Aumo-Mate’s design fits right in with any elegant vehicle. Instead of being a crude metal and plastic contraption, or having loud colors like yellow (which is common on steering wheel locks), the two shafts of this model are covered in faux-leather, tipped with a brass end. The central assembly is silver, stamped with a small and unassuming company logo. While the simple, black and silver Master Lock 263DAT wouldn’t have stuck out in an elegant car, this model downright fits in.
The Aumo-Mate steering wheel lock’s most noteworthy feature is a feat of creative engineering which we wish other manufacturers would nick for their own models. A flap almost as long as the steel immobilizer extends over the steering wheel itself, and the mechanism of the lock ensures that if tampered with and opened without being properly unlocked, pressure would force the flap to activate the car’s horn. Thieves are easily frightened and the last thing they want is to draw attention with such loud noises.
The Aumo-Mate steering wheel lock falls into the family of locks which use a steel immobilizer resting on the dashboard to prevent the wheel from being turned. The device is secured to the wheel itself with two hooks which lock into place and prevent the lock itself from sliding around the circumference of the wheel. The immobilizer, airbag apron (this is what the manufacturer calls the flap that would sound the car horn) and the section under the main assembly which comes into direct contact with the steering wheel are all cushioned to make sure that the device doesn’t even scratch any part of your car it comes into contact with.
The airbag apron’s angle can be adjusted to fit various steering wheel types, as well as to create tension and friction to further secure the lock itself. The mechanism and hooks are plenty strong, so no thief will be able to force it open. If there is something to be said against this product, it’s that it comes without official instructions and the various moving parts can make figuring out what goes where just a tad longer than with regular locks, but it’s pretty intuitive so most people shouldn’t have a hard time.
Aumo-Mate managed to put together one of the best steering wheel locks on the market with a design ready to do business and a unique feature while keeping the price close to the ground. This lock offers loads of benefits over those which came before with only a minor increase in price. You just can’t go wrong with this one.
The Club 1103 LX Series Steering Wheel Lock
The Club’s higher-end model, the 1103 LX might seem at first glance to have fewer features than their cheaper 3000 model, but when you dig into it you’ll see why it costs more. This too is a bar lock, but is single hooked. Unlike the 3000, each color variation of the 1103 LX costs the same.
The 1103 LX could be praised for its strength, which is likely the most practical aspect of it, however the most interesting feature it boasts is laser encrypted keys which are therefore impossible to duplicate. Laser encryption isn’t quite as high-tech as you’d think, but it indicates that the keys are shaped with such fine detail that no device save for that which actually makes laser encrypted keys can copy it, and unless the car thief happens to work for Winner International (The Club’s owner) at a manufacturing plant, they won’t have access to such a device.
While double hooked locks are more secure, we’ve previously discussed how they are not compatible with all types of steering wheel. The single hook design still works perfectly, and can be used for more vehicles. This model is also auto-locking, which is just a fancy way of saying that you don’t need a key to extend the lock.
Another benefit over the 3000 is the stronger material and lack of grooves in the bar, meaning this cannot be just bent out of shape with as much ease. While shape-wise the 1103 LX is compatible with more wheels than the 3000, the different coating may be an issue – it can leave marks on the wheel, or even slightly corrode it. That said, this is fairly rare.
While The Club 1103 LX is a fantastic choice all around with a single fault that only affects a few vehicles, it isn’t the top dog. There isn’t anything wrong with it, and is has everything it needs to fulfill its duty, but some other models come with bonuses that make them better choices.
Disklok Security Device
No, this isn’t a metal band, it’s a steering wheel lock. An expensive and gimmicky steering wheel lock, the Disklok seems at first glance to be something you wouldn’t want to pay so much for when a simple bar for less than half the price works just as well. But the thing is, the Disklok… is actually brilliant. It’s a one of a kind solution that really looks like it is hands down the most secure option among all those we have reviewed in this guide.
The Disklok’s standout feature is, well, the Disklok. This lock’s unique design is fantastic – it’s a large, round steel shroud which covers the entire steering wheel. It spins independently of the wheel, preventing any kind of access, let alone control. As the Disklok covers the whole wheel, the latter cannot be damaged in retaliation for foiling the thieves’ plan to boost your car. Internally there are 10 independently spinning disks which prevent both drilling and picking. It’s locked with multi-pronged keys that prevent duplication. This thing it a tiny fortress strapped to your steering wheel.
The adjustable nature of the Disklok means it fits many wheel types, however the two semicircles are fixed. As such, there are three sizes available, so make sure you get the right one. The Disklok is massive, between 4 and 5 kilograms in weight.
Why It’s Our #1 Choice
The Disklok’s only drawback is its price, and that is something we dicussed already. Sure, it may be a larger sum, but with the Disklok, you’re guaranteed to only have to pay it once. No car thief will get through this, and it’s one of the most ingenuitive designs on the market. Most other steering wheel locks, no matter how new, feel a bit like relics from an older era, whereas the Disklok really feels like the steering wheel lock of the modern age. This thing is absolutely worth every penny.
The Disklok is the single most secure device we’ve reviewed here, and that makes it stand out from all the others. A steering wheel lock may be as strong as it wants to be so long as the steering wheel itself can be sawed apart to lift out the lock, but this issue is eliminated by the Disklok entirely.
Steering wheel locks are intended to be visual deterrents as much as actual security devices, and our number one pick takes this to heart moreso than the others. Keep in mind when budgeting for a steering wheel lock that the expenses of losing a car will very likely be multiple times the amount of the most expensive model, and with more than 3,000 auto thefts reported in the USA daily, the chances that your vehicle is targeted could be higher than you think. If there is one thing you don’t skimp on this month, let this be it.