Do steering wheel locks really deter thieves?

Do steering wheel locks really deter thieves?

Dear Alex,

How great a deterrent to car thieves are steel steering wheel locks? Are they able to cut through or defeat them and, if so, does that happen often?

RM

Dear RM,

Given enough time, a determined thief can overcome most security precautions. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth having a steering wheel lock. In fact, a good model with a high level of security is still an effective deterrent – and if your vehicle has keyless entry susceptible to being “read” by relay thieves, it creates an important physical barrier to help prevent the car being driven away, even if the thieves have gained access.

So while it’s possible to remove a steering wheel lock, doing so requires heavy, expensive power tools and can take several minutes in the case of the most robust models. That’s time that most car thieves won’t want to spend, especially in a well-lit area where the chances of being spotted are high.

It makes loads of noise, too. If your car is parked outside your house, that’s likely to wake you – as well as your neighbours.

So while using a steering wheel lock cannot be a guarantee that your car won’t be stolen, it puts up another hurdle that only the most determined of criminals will be willing to surmount. It might just be the thing that causes thieves to pass your car by and move on to another.

But not all steering wheel locks are made equal; tests by motoring magazine Auto Express show that some of the cheaper models can be removed by those who know what they’re doing in as little as five seconds.

The same test found that locks from Stoplock, Milenco and Disklok all took more than five minutes to remove – with the Stoplock Pro Elite taking top honours.

One more thing to bear in mind: whatever type of lock you buy, it’s obviously only effective if you fit it every time you leave the car. That’s easier said than done given that they can be quite cumbersome and fiddly to fit.


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