Your car’s steering wheel lock is the first line of defense against vehicle theft. Here’s how these mechanisms work and how they can help protect your car or truck.
What Is a Steering Wheel Lock?
Steering wheel locks have been around since the 1920s. Back then, motorists would place a “crook lock” or “club lock” across the steering wheel to combat theft. Consumers can still purchase modern forms of these external locks, though most cars today are pre-equipped with a steering column lock, a type of locking mechanism that physically stops the vehicle’s wheels from turning when the ignition key is removed.
How Do Steering Wheels Lock Work?
These tools work by simply bracing against the steering wheel, keeping it from turning, while a separate lock on the device itself keeps it engaged.
Steering column locks rely on an internal mechanism that locks the car’s steering wheel. When the ignition key is removed, any movement to the steering wheel will release a spring-loaded lever that engages a slot and locks the mechanism. The only way to unlock the wheel is to insert the ignition key and turn the engine on.
How Effective Are Steering Wheel Locks?
Steering wheel locks might best be thought of as a single layer in a series of measures used to deter car theft. In fact, the Cleveland police department recently began issuing free steering wheel locks after a rash of car thefts.
These mechanisms are hardly foolproof, but an external steering wheel lock is a visible signal to car thieves that this car might not be worth the trouble.
With that being said, there is not one specific car security mechanism that is 100% infallible. Determined car thieves are still capable of defeating these devices, even cutting through them if necessary.
Other Ways to Prevent Vehicle Theft
These locks may be at their most effective when they are part of a larger, layered defense strategy to protect your car against theft. Other common ways to protect your vehicle include the following:
- Installing a car alarm
- Parking in a secure, well-lit location
- Keeping your windows closed
- Not leaving valuables in the car
- Installing a car immobilizer system
- Installing a car-tracking device
These strategies offer the most protection for you and your vehicle, giving you confidence and peace of mind.
What to Do if Your Car Is Stolen
If your car is ever stolen, report it to the police immediately. Provide them with the following information to help identify your car:
- The car’s color, year, make, and model
- Your license plate number
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
You should also report the theft to your insurance company within 24 hours, and they will likely ask for the police report.
Make a Steering Wheel Lock Part of Your Strategy
To put it bluntly, thieves aren’t stupid. They’ll target the car that’s easiest to steal. The appearance of an external steering wheel lock is a visual deterrent and can be a simple means of protecting your vehicle, but that lock should be part of a broader security strategy that can offer maximum protection and peace of mind.