I Don’t Have a Key for That: RNR Explains Wheel Locks

Dear Bree,

I took your advice.  I did research, I educated myself, and I shopped around.  I found exactly the tires I wanted, I made an appointment, and I went in feeling super confident that no one could ask me any question that I wasn’t prepared to answer.  And then this: “Do you have wheel locks?”

Bree, what in the world is a wheel lock?! I stood there with my blank face and my mouth open until the man behind the counter said, “I’ll take that as a no.”  The embarrassment! The disappointment!  I was so close, Bree!  I got my tires installed, so clearly, I do not have wheel locks, but please, for the love of all things tire related, explain wheel locks to me?!  Do I need wheel locks?  Should I start researching these, too?

Foiled Again in Clearwater


Dear Foiled,

I feel your pain.  It’s like working your tush off for a test, then realizing you’ve been studying the wrong chapter!  So sorry that happened!

Wheel locks are just what they sound like–locks for your wheels.  They replace the lug nuts on your wheel and can only be removed with a special key (the key will be included with the set).  You can replace all of your lug nuts with locks or just one per wheel–it’s up to you.  The type of lock depends on the style of the wheel and the shape of the key.  Some useful things to know about wheel locks: They can rattle loose just like a lug nut if they are not properly tightened, so use a torque wrench to install them; also, if you don’t have the key fully seated on the lock, you can round the key off (think stripping a screw) and make it really hard to remove the lock in the future.

Now, why would you want or need wheel locks?  Well,  why do you have locks on your car doors or your house?  Because you want to protect what’s inside, right?  The same is true for your wheels.  If you’ve gone to the trouble to buy new wheels for your car or truck, they obviously have value to you besides their monetary value, but the monetary value alone is reason enough to protect them.  Nice wheels are an expense that most people have to plan for, so it makes sense that people would protect them; and if they look pretty to you, chances are that they’ll look even better to some unsavory person who might want to take them.  Also, wheel locks are just about impossible to remove, so they’re an effective deterrent and a failsafe device.  See, there’s barely enough room for the key to fit around them, so getting some sort of tool in there that could pry them off is pretty much impossible (not to mention, it would take a considerable amount of time to try, thus calling attention to a would-be thief).  Wheel locks are also attractive.  They don’t take away from the look of your specialty rims AND they protect them–that’s a win.

I think wheel locks are a good idea, Foiled, but I am sorry that you went in without knowing about them and felt silly.  Been there, done that, and it’s not fun; but now you know, and knowing what you do, maybe you should think about getting some wheel locks.  I have no idea what kind of wheels you have, but you clearly have a nice, new set of tires, so it might be worth the investment.  Something to think about anyway.

One more thing: If you’re confronted with something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask.  How else are you going to learn?  At RNR, we’re more than happy to answer any and all questions you may have; that’s why we’re here!  Bring us a list, if you’d like, but make sure that you get the info you need and want.  Enjoy your new tires and stay safe!