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    Do Steering Wheel Locks Work?

    Steering wheel lock

    Of the many products you can buy today to help protect and secure your car from thieves, steering wheel locks are among the more popular options. The principle is simple… It locks onto your car’s steering wheel, and with a long, (usually) steel, protruding rod, this makes it nigh impossible to turn the wheel without first removing the steering wheel lock. Without being able to steer, the steering wheel lock makes it harder for your car to simply be driven off. Some steering wheel locks even come with an additional bar to fully press down onto the brake pedal. But, its effectiveness in preventing theft remains questionable, so do steering wheel locks actually work? Well, here’s a TL;DR on what I think:

    • From what we’ve seen, steering wheel locks – particularly some of the pricier, more heavy-duty ones – do work, and they work quite well.
    • They’re generally quite inexpensive compared to many other automotive security solutions, and they’re relatively not that hard to install and remove.
    • By adding an extra physical barrier, it ought to make a thief think twice before tring to drive away with your car. Or, to at least make their jobs way harder.
    • If anything, the sheer appearance of a steering wheel lock might be enough to deter would-be thieves, making your car far less of an attractive target. In the world of car theft, deterrence can be just as effective as outright prevention.
    • I also like that steering wheel locks are typically uncomplicated in design. Unlike other car security products like car alarms or GPS trackers, steering wheel locks have no electronics, nor do they need to run on the battery.
    • For me, it offers adequate peace of mind knowing that my steering wheel lock isn’t going to glitch out or run out of power.

    Yet, I can’t help but shake off the feeling that steering wheel locks have way more flaws and downsides that might not be immediately apparent when you’re shopping for one. Yes, steering wheel locks do work, but they’re not as effective at preventing theft as some might assume. In fact, if you’re looking for top-notch security for your beloved car, there are so many other, better alternatives out there (at the end, we’ll discuss what is no doubt the best and most secure one for you).

    With that in mind, here are some of the noteworthy cons with steering wheel locks that you need to consider before buying one:

    1. It’s Not A Foolproof Solution

    The most damning argument against fitting steering wheel locks in your car is how surprisingly easy it is to bypass it. A well-equipped car thief might have all the tools they need to pick the lock that secures the steering wheel lock in place. Or, they could even just brute force it and crack the steering wheel lock open. One of the most popular techniques I’ve seen deployed is using Freon or refrigerant spray to free the lock itself, thus making it brittle, and breaking it.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that not all steering wheel locks are made the same. Most cheaper steering wheel locks, for example, are far more susceptible to being bypassed and brute forced into, than the pricier options. For example, I saw how the guys at Donut Media, when testing various car security products, found a critical flaw in one of the steering wheel locks they tested. There, they found that one vital part of the steering wheel lock was a thin piece of metal, which could be handily (and silently) beaten by a pair of bolt cutters.

    In short, buying a steering wheel lock can be a bit of a gamble… You might end up with a good one that’ll hold up to whatever speciality tools or clever hacks a car thief employs to remove it. Or, you could end up with the same steering wheel lock that took mere seconds for the guys at Donut Media to break through and then have unimpeded access to the steering wheel. Remember, standard lock-picking tools are really easy to find, and there is an abundance of guides and videos online that’ll unintentionally teach you how easy it is to use them.

    2. The Inconvenience With Using Them

    While a steering wheel lock is comparatively easy to use and intuitive at first, needing to remove and install it onto your steering wheel every single time gets really tiresome pretty quickly. It’s very cumbersome, especially when you need to get somewhere in a hurry, or if you have physical ailments that can make it more challenging to exert the force needed to remove a steering wheel lock. Those few minutes you exhaust trying to undo that lock add up, and I’ve lost count of the number of times where I just couldn’t be bothered trying to install it.

    This matters, because the cumbersome nature of the steering wheel lock might lead to situations where some folks might opt to say ‘forget this, I’m not dealing with this right now’, and neglect to use their steering wheel locks. Obviously, this will leave your vehicle exposed and vulnerable to theft, when all you’re relying on is that steering wheel lock. For someone who commutes daily and spends a lot of time getting in and out of my car, it just isn’t as practical or as effortless as some of the marketing might lead you to believe.

    3. Taking Up Excess Storage Space

    Speaking of inconvenience, where does one stow the steering wheel lock after you’ve removed it? Most of the people I know simply chuck it into the passenger floor well, or throw it onto the rear seats. Given how large a steering wheel lock is, no matter where you toss it when it’s not in use, it only ends up taking up valuable space in your car. That’s particularly so in smaller vehicles, like sports cars or superminis, where in-car storage space can be really hard to come by, and is already rather limiting to begin with.

    All that space could’ve been used for something else, instead. And even if you’re able to find somewhere where you could stow that steering wheel lock, it adds to unnecessary clutter. There are many other, smaller security solutions you could get for the money, and as we’ll discuss later down below, we have an alternative that won’t take up any precious in-car storage space, at all!

    4. Potential For Causing Damage

    Even if it does prevent theft, is a steering wheel lock worth the potential damage it causes to your interior? I’ve found that frequently fitting and removing the steering wheel lock has the chance of scratching up or scuffing the steering wheel. It does depend on the steering wheel lock itself and how it’s been designed, but some of these can be pretty hard on your upholstery. The hard metal surfaces that lock onto your steering wheel wear it down seriously, particularly if your wheel is made from softer surfaces, such as leather.

    On that note, the size and design of your steering wheel should be taken into consideration when you’re trying to find a suitable steering wheel lock, too. Your car’s steering wheel might be a tad thick. Or, the placement of the spokes may interfere with how the lock secures in place. Aside from incompatibility concerns, it might make it way harder to install and remove your steering wheel lock, or to have it secured enough to make sure the lock works as intended. So, make sure you take notes before checking out your Amazon cart.

    5. It Provides Limited Protection

    Another vital downside of steering wheel locks and why they do not always work is that they provide single-point security. They only address one aspect of your car’s security – making sure your steering wheel can’t be moved – thus leaving other vulnerabilities around your car unprotected. It doesn’t prevent thieves from starting your car, by bypassing the ignition system, nor does it prevent a thief from moving your car in just a straight line. In fact, a steering wheel lock won’t even stop thieves from merely towing your car away from you.

    Thieves might otherwise adopt more advanced methods like signal jamming, relay attacks, or for older cars, it’s sometimes enough to hotwire the car. None of these could be prevented by a steering wheel lock. A multi-layer approach to car security is vital, which is why car owners often use steering wheel locks in concert with other measures, such as immobilisers, alarms, or GPS trackers. So, make sure you don’t just rely on steering wheel locks and build a false sense of confidence or complacency, expecting a steel rod to keep your car safe.

    Is There A Better Alternative To Steering Wheel Locks?

    So, do steering wheel locks work? Well, somewhat, and it can be sufficient in the right circumstances. But, what if I told you there’s a way better alternative to car security and theft deterrence at home? Instead of a steering wheel lock, which can be cumbersome, not as secure as some might think, and offer many inconveniences that come with it, you’d be better off installing a driveway bollard at your home. Driveway bollards are easier and more convenient to use, which are really easy to retract and stow away when you need to use them.

    Plus, some of them are even automated, allowing you to raise and lower your driveway bollards with just a key fob remote. Aside from that, a driveway bollard is able to guarantee that every single car you own is secured all at once, rather than you need to install a steering wheel lock for each one. If that’s not reason enough to sell you on the supremacy of driveway bollards for car security compared to steering wheel locks, here are some of the many benefits it offers:

    1. Driveway bollards provide a robust, physical barrier that prevents a car from being moved out of your driveway, which is better than a steering wheel lock, which only restricts steering.
    2. Unlike steering wheel locks, which need to be installed and removed every single time you need to go out for a drive, a driveway bollard is permanently fitted in place. That alone ought to save you a lot of time.
    3. Moreover, whereas some steering wheel locks could be readily bypassed by the right tools and a bit of elbow grease, a solid driveway bollard is impossibly more robust to tampering. You can’t just ram into them and run them down, either.
    4. Speaking of tampering, and this extends beyond steering wheel locks, driveway bollards provide a more secure defence against sophisticated theft methods. This includes signal jamming or relay attacks, given that driveway bollards lack the electronic security systems that are vulnerable to such attack vectors.
    5. Crucially, driveway bollards don’t directly interact with your car. While a steering wheel lock needs to be fitted and removed constantly, which might risk damaging the interior, you’re not going to scratch and scuff up your car with a set of driveway bollards.

    If you are looking to buy some driveway bollards and install them at your home to secure your home, you’re in luck! For over 15 years, we here at Bollard Security have installed and maintained security solutions throughout the UK. In that time, we’ve serviced commercial, industrial, and residential clients, and we take pride in the peace of mind we offer to our customers. And, the quality of the driveway bollards that we offer in our diverse selection of security solutions. If you’re not sure where to get started, or if you’re seeking recommendations and advice, don’t hesitate to contact us at 01535 920362.