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When you're planning your vacation out on the open road with your trailer or caravan, you likely anticipate all the great places you'll see, the hikes you might take, and the pure joy of gathering with friends or family around the campfire. What you probably are not anticipating, however, is what a desirable target your trailer or caravan is for thieves. Well, it’s time to think about that now.
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Fortunately, there are many products out there that are designed to make stealing your trailer difficult. As with any anti-theft system, they're only as good as the thief trying to get access. A motivated and well-prepared crook can still defeat almost any system put in place, given enough time to work on it, so you must make yours as secure as possible.
In this article, we'll discuss a selection of the best anti-theft trailer wheel locks on the market today, and we’ll talk about tactics you can employ to help take your boat trailer or caravan off the thieves’ market. You shouldn't need to sit watching your caravan for your entire vacation. We'll give you a few tips about how to enjoy your vacation with peace of mind and security and give you the lowdown about the best trailer wheel-lock systems available today.
You plan your family road trip for months, ensuring that you don’t miss a beat. After all, you don’t get the chance to relax with your family enough, so you want everything to go just right. The last thing you want to happen while you're on vacation is to return from a mountain hike or a fishing trip only to find your vacation trailer gone.
This kind of theft can be horrifying, costly, time-consuming, tremendously expensive, a profound property loss, and personally invasive. Of course, it will almost certainly bring your quality family time to an abrupt and unwelcome halt, too.
So, what are the best anti-theft accessories and practices? The fact is, even with trailer wheel locks, it's impossible to wholly secure your trailer or caravan from criminals. Expert thieves make it their business to know precisely how to defeat most anti-theft lock systems and generally can do so in seconds. Faster, in some cases, than you can access them using your keys.
You can, however, make your trailer much less attractive to even the best-prepared thief.
The key is using multiple, redundant features. By making the prospect of stealing your trailer a time-consuming one, you’ll spook thieves into moving on to easier prey. Stealing a high-end item like a caravan or trailer is usually a quick score for most crooks, and making them work for it may be the edge you need to keep your property secure.
Invest in a trailer-hitch lock, as well as a coupler lock and a hitch-pin lock. Most thieves steal trailers by simply hitching it up to their vehicle's hitching post and driving off with it. By adding a wheel clamp, you make anyone think twice about even attempting to steal your ride. Several heavy-duty devices lock directly to your hitch pin and couplers. You can even key them alike, so you're not toting around multiple keys for each lock.
Another excellent tool to deter thieves is to invest in the best trailer wheel lock. Trailer wheel locks come in several different styles, from simple clamps to heavy-duty boots that shelter the entire tire. Their purpose isn't merely to deter thieves, but also to prevent them from driving away with your vehicle unless they want to risk damaging the property they just stole.
In addition to trailer wheel locks, consider applying locking nuts to your wheels. Locking nuts are a specialized lug-nut that can only be opened or removed with a 'key,” which is a socket designed explicitly for those nuts. These locking nuts make it extremely difficult to remove your wheels with a standard tire iron.
No single approach is going to guarantee success. Thieves often practice removing caravan wheel locks. So, make sure you're using a combination of different locks on the joints, coupler, hitch, and wheels to secure success.
An anti-theft lock is only as good as the person trying to break it. A dedicated thief will defeat each of these anti-theft wheel-lock methods singularly. But combining multiple lock systems will give you far more security than relying on one item. Sad but true, you have to go the distance to protect your property from unscrupulous thugs these days.
If you've seen a car get booted for parking illegally, you've seen a trailer wheel lock. Maybe you've even been subject to a 'boot' yourself and know what a pain they can be.
Trailer wheel locks are heavy-duty clamps that envelop a wheel, making it difficult to move the vehicle without causing significant damage. Thieves know quickly that they’ll have to remove both boots and clamps if they're going to attempt to take your trailer. Often, just seeing a caravan wheel lock is enough to make them think twice or deter them altogether.
Manufacturers often paint wheel locks in bright colors, so they're easily noticeable at a glance. Considering that burglars usually scout a vehicle first, a wheel lock acts as a weighty warning sign that just might have them seeking their prey elsewhere. What’s more, some types of wheel locks can also help stabilize your trailer and prevent it from accidentally rolling if the parking brake fails.
Wheel locks are virtually essential for long-term storage of your boat trailer or caravan, providing security and peace of mind that your vacation investment will be there when it's time to roll out for your spring and summer vacation. Most wheel locks comprise heavy-duty steel so that they are virtually impossible to break. They're durable and reusable, so you should only need to purchase one set for as long as you have your trailer.
Most trailer wheel locks feature rubber splines that hook inside the rim of your tire without damaging it. The locks typically are easy to install and capable of fitting around all but the widest wheels. There are still several different types to choose from, so consider your needs carefully before investing.
Let’s look more closely at some of the types that you might consider.
Trailer wheel locks come in several distinct types. Most of them work as a wheel clamp but have added features, such as rubberized handles or a stabilizing chock. Locking lug-nuts, on the other hand, are different, and you can use them in tandem with the others.
The wheel clamp is the simplest wheel-lock option. Shaped like a large C clamp, these are much like what you'd see in a woodshop or a machinist’s shop. They're usually much lighter than the other two types of trailer wheel locks, but that doesn't make them cheaper or easier to defeat.
Clamps are easy to install. The rubber-coated arms hook within the rim of your wheel without damaging it in any way. Once you size it correctly for your tire, you turn the key and lock it in place.
Manufactured from high-grade steel, clamp wheel locks usually have a convenient handle on one end, which not only makes them easier to maneuver into position but also causes severe damage if someone tries to drive off without disengaging them. What’s more, they store easily, making them ideal for most vehicle types. But their design is more straightforward than some other types of locks, which can make them easier to crack.
Because they are cheaper, storable, and lighter, wheel clamps the most common type of wheel locks for caravan security. But if ironclad security is your primary concern, you might want to seek out a more powerful option, or a combination of them.
Boots, or boot clamps, are similar to the standard lightweight clamp. Where they differ, however, is in their size and strength. Usually made from heavy thick steel, boot clamps take specialized tools and much more time to cut through.
Unfortunately, boot clamps are heavy and large, so they can be challenging to store on smaller trailers or caravans with limited space. While the weight and strength assure peace of mind for your vehicle's security, it can also make them a pain to install and remove – especially in inclement weather.
Most boot clamps have both forward and rear splines, which prevent movement of the vehicle or trailer in either direction – handy for stabilizing your vehicle long-term. These clamps often are characterized by the large, heavy plate that covers the wheel’s lug-nuts, denying thieves the opportunity to remove the tire.
Boot clamps are ideal for storing your trailer or caravan long-term, as long as you have a place to store the clamp when you’re not using it. If you don’t have plenty of storage on your vehicle or trailer, these clamps might not be ideal for vacations or long excursions.
So, while thieves certainly will think twice before taking on a boot-style clamp, this option also might cause a headache for you when you’re trying to store it or set it up quickly, especially in cold or rainy weather.
The Wheel chock lock aims to combine the stabilizing properties of the boot clamp with the maneuverability, ease of use, and light weight of the standard clamp. They operate on the same principle as the other two styles, bracketing a tire and preventing it from moving. But the chock lock adds a few features and is both economical and easy to store.
Wheel chock locks are more substantial than standard clamps but much lighter than the boot. And rather than having a rigid handle that extends from the locking mechanism, chock locks frequently have a serrated 'chock' at their base, which helps stabilize your vehicle on most surfaces.
Like standard clamps, wheel chock locks are fully extendable, capable of fitting around all but the widest of tires. They're simple to operate, usually only requiring a key to unlock the device before situating it neatly around the tire and re-locking it. But chock locks lack the plate protecting the lug-nuts, which means thieves can remove your tires unless you secure the nuts with locking lugs.
If you want something that combines the best of boots and clamps, plus a bit more stability, the chock lock might be your best option.
Locking wheel bolts are the only type of wheel lock that is different from the other options in design and purpose. Locking wheel bolts don't secure your wheel from moving. Instead, they make your vehicle’s tires impossible for anyone to remove without your specialized key (so, don’t lose the key!).
These wheel bolts replace one of your vehicle's existing tire lug-nuts with specially designed bolts that criminals can't remove with a simple tire iron. Instead, they employ a proprietary nut head that only matches to a 'key' socket that fits on your wrench or adjustable tire iron.
Locking wheel bolts work better when you use them in tandem with another type of clamp or wheel lock. As we've mentioned, thieves can defeat many of the standard wheel locks by removing the wheel, but adding locking wheel nuts to your system makes stealing your property a great deal more complicated. It just might make prospective thieves run the other way!
It's essential to ensure that your wheel-lock key is accessible in case of emergencies, though. Keep the key locked in a safe, inaccessible place, either in a locked glove compartment or a lockbox. Some locking wheel bolts are more complicated than others, so do a little research about the security features of each before you choose which one to purchase.
With all of the options available, it might be a little daunting to decide which type of trailer wheel lock is suitable for your caravan or boat trailer. Luckily, your trailer type and situation can make that decision clearer. In the end, it all depends on how much you're willing to invest and how seriously you take the security of your hard-earned vehicles.
It’s worth repeating how essential it is for you to have multiple redundant locking systems to yield an effective deterrent to thieves. We recommend that you consider getting wheel locking bolts, regardless of the type of wheel clamp or locking system you choose. While wheel locking bolts don't secure your vehicle from moving or outright theft, they do secure it from wheel theft, which is an essential component of security.
Once you've decided on your wheel locking bolts, consider the size and weight of the wheel-locking device and the storage space you have available for your protection system. Many of the boot systems are great for securing your vehicle for long periods, but you probably don't want to be lugging them around the country or hefting them onto your car whenever you stop.
Boots are bulky and expensive, though they do provide a great deal of security and negate the need for wheel-locking bolts. Clamps and chock locks, on the other hand, usually are far lighter, transportable and storable on almost any caravan or trailer. And chock locks have the added feature of being a wheel stabilizer that prevents unwanted movement when you stop.
Read on for our reviews of the best trailer and caravan security systems on the market today.
Trimax TWL100 Hardware
The best trailer wheel lock we've found is the Trimax TWL100. Its heavy-duty construction comes with a rubberized steel disk to protect your lug-nuts without damaging your rims. The Trimax wheel boot is adjustable and sturdy for those who hold their security sacred and are willing to invest in it.
The Trimax wheel boot is fully rubberized on all points of contact to reduce the risk of damaging any part of your car or trailer when you’re installing or removing the boot. It's easy to install and adjust. Apply it to your wheel and crank to tighten, then turn the key and you're ready to go!
This wheel-lock system comes with three keys that Trimax advertises as the toughest lock out there. The lock can be keyed to match your other locking systems and keep all of your keys on a single ring. What’s more, it features rubberized handles and grips, which make it easier to operate in cold or rainy weather.
Like most boot-style locks, the Trimax system requires a hefty investment. And the Trimax TWL100 also is relatively bulky, so you'll have to contemplate storage. But if far-reaching security is your primary concern, it's an excellent trailer wheel lock for long-term storage or a weekend in the woods.
Safstar Wheel Lock Clamp
If you're looking for something a little less bulky and easier to set up than the Trimax TWL100, consider this very simple wheel clamp. The Safstar Wheel Lock Clamp comes in bright yellow and red and will stop your tires from moving while adding visibility to all four tires.
You can buy a single wheel clamp or a pack of four to protect all of your vehicle's tires. These clamps are portable and much smaller than other security options, which makes them far easier to store in tight spaces and perfect for any journey. And all Safstar locks come with an attached lock cover to prevent moisture from getting in and rusting or freezing in cold weather.
Though it might not sound like much, the Safstar wheel lock also comes with rubberized handles, ensuring a comfortable grip when you’re setting them up in rain or snow. And Safstar guarantees that the rubberized prongs won't scratch your rims.
Unfortunately, a pack of four Safstar wheel locks is relatively expensive on Amazon. And at a fully extended width of 11 inches, some folks find this wheel lock unsuitable for trailers with larger tires.
Trimax TCL65 Wheel Chock Lock
Thieves will get a workout trying to access the sturdy anti-pick cylinder on this chock lock clamping unit, made from heavy-gauge, yellow powder-coated steel. This trailer wheel lock is easy to set up, requiring seconds to set in place and lock. Its compact, lightweight build makes it easy to store in your trailer compartments.
Like many of the other products we reviewed, the Trimax TCL65 arms are coated with rubber to prevent damage to your vehicle's rims. Its built-in chock also will prevent it from unexpected movement, adding stability and peace of mind for you when you leave it to head out on a hiking or fishing excursion.
A lifetime warranty covers the Trimax TCL65, so you don't have to worry about anything ever going wrong with it. Trimax advertises that it will fit comfortably on any wheel, but at its full extension, it still may be too small for the largest of tires. According to the specifications online, its greatest available width is 10.5 inches.
This wheel lock system comes in a variety of sizes and packs of two, three, four, or five. But it is relatively expensive for a clamping unit. It is, however, one of the best wheel locks on the market today, so we think it a worthy addition to any regular RV adventurer.
McGard 74041 Chrome Cone Seat Trailer Wheel Locks
Sometimes thieves aren't looking to steal your entire vehicle but have their sights set on your tires. Or they might view removing your tires as a first step in taking your whole trailer by making the boot or clamps easier to access. McGard lock bolts are excellent anti-theft devices that help prevent tire theft and work fabulously when combined with other anti-theft measures.
The McGard wheel locks use a pattern specific to the included key to ensure that your lug-nuts stay securely on your vehicle. This pattern makes it far more difficult to remove the locking nut with standard tools, making your vehicle tires more secure than it would be with regular lug-nuts.
Wheel locks, locking bolts, and the like are each provide a method to prevent your trailer or caravan from getting stolen when you’re out on the road. And automotive-accessory manufacturers deliberately make wheel clamps noticeable to dissuade thieves. But don’t rely solely on wheel clamps to achieve the best possible level of security.
These days, there are hundreds of locks that are uniquely designed to make trailer theft a time-consuming process. Crooks want an easy, quick score, which is why unattended trailers are so attractive to them. An enterprising criminal encountering a poorly secured trailer can simply back right up to it, hitch it up, and roll away with it, frequently without anyone around getting suspicious.
But you can make any attempt to steal your property a more painful process that will take longer and involve more tools than any prospective thief typically carries. Make sure you don’t rely on a single method to secure your vehicle, as thieves often come prepared to defeat some security measures, but not three or five of them! Investing in multiple locks for your hitch will prevent these burglars from decoupling your trailer and hitching it to their own.
Security is an investment. Thieves are opportunists. They will gravitate toward and exploit any flaw in your security system, if you make it easy for them. The best method for prevention is to incorporate multiple redundant systems that thieves can’t defeat quickly, so your property remains safe and sound. The more locks you apply, the less likely that your trailer or caravan will land in the crosshairs of the next unscrupulous swindler.
Don't risk your family's safety or your vacation because you skimped on securing your property. Keep your wheel lock keys secured in a locked and hidden space. And if you're worried about convenience, rekey your locks to respond to a single key, making it far simpler to set your security measures in place quickly, while you get on enjoying your vacation in peace!