Buying New Wheels -
Wheel Locks vs. Anti-theft Lug Nuts

After buying expensive wheels, you need to protect your investment by using wheel locks. There is an important difference between wheel locks and anti-theft lock nuts. Although both are deterrents, wheel locks are better deterrents.

Wheel locks prevent theft by making it very hard – although not impossible – to steal a set of wheels along with the tires. They work like regular lug nuts (the nut that holds the wheel onto the axle) except that wheel locks can only be removed using the wheel-lock key – a specially shaped socket which you carry in the trunk. There is one wheel lock per wheel (although, if you want you can place a second one on each wheel); wheel locks are also available for spare tires. The reason wheel locks are so effective is that it is extremely difficult to remove a wheel lock quietly – brut force requires banging or, more realistically, a pneumatic tool – actions that are conducive to late-night theft.

Anti-theft lug nuts are not the same as Wheel Locks – even if some folks say they are. Anti-theft lug nuts make it difficult for thieves because the shape of the lug nut is non-conventional. For example, it may be a 7-sided lug nut which can be opened easily only if you have the proper 7-sided socket. However, these are not unique – they resemble metric sockets. As a result, a thief can use a metric socket and heat it up using a portable propane torch – this is quick, easy, and above all quiet. The heated socket can be forced onto the lug nut and, when cooled with a little water, is used to loosen the lug nut. Four such sockets are cheap, and two or four thieves working in concert are very quick.

If you lose your wheel lock key, your dealership or place where you purchased your aftermarket wheels and the lock can usually replace it. If not, tire or wheel dealerships can break off the wheel lock and put on your new one.

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