What Are Wheel Locks?


Alloy wheels are a great addition to a car. They improve its looks and performance and can also contribute to its value and desirability. Many alloy wheels are also quite expensive, which can make them prime targets for thieves, who steal then resell them. In order to minimize the chances of their wheels getting stolen, many car owners install wheel locks as a preventative measure.

Wheel Lock Description

  • As the name implies, wheel locks are special lug nuts that cannot be removed without a specially-shaped key that fits into the end of the lug nut. The outer part of the lock is smooth rather than hexagonally-shaped like a conventional wheel lug so it cannot be removed with a tire iron. Wheel locks generally come in a set of four and are typically chromed.


  • Wheel locks can be purchased at just about any auto parts store that sells wheel accessories, such as lug nuts. They will be in the wheel and tire accessory section of the store. You can also find wheel locks from a number of online sources.


  • Wheel locks are generally not that expensive, ranging from $25 to over $50 for the more expensive brands.


  • To install a wheel lock, remove one of the existing lug nuts on your wheels with a lug wrench. It is not necessary to raise the vehicle to remove one lug nut and install a wheel lock, though if you prefer to you can. Once you have removed the wheel lug, install the wheel lock by threading it in by hand. Place the wheel lock key in the end of the tire iron (or whatever tool you used to remove the lug nut) then tighten the wheel lock to the manufacturer’s recommended torque setting with a torque wrench. To remove a wheel lock, insert the key into the tire iron and place the key into the indentation on the end of the wheel lock. Turn the lock counterclockwise to remove it.

Potential Problems

  • Though wheel locks can prevent your wheels from getting stolen, they can also be problematic. Owners of cars with wheel locks often misplace the key to the lock so that the wheels cannot be removed easily. Then removing the wheel lock can often lead to a damaged wheel since the lock either needs to be machined out or something pounded into the end of it so that the lock can be turned. The wheel lock key also needs to be kept in the car in case the vehicle gets a flat tire and the wheel needs to be removed.

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