How to Match Wheel Locks and Your Vehicle

You have probably seen a car sitting on a set of concrete or brick blocks after the wheels and tires have been stolen. Whether you have factory wheels or aftermarket ones, owning a set of wheel locks is a low-cost opportunity that will help ensure wheels stay on your vehicle. Wheel locks replace the standard lug nuts on your wheels. They feature a specific face pattern that only works with a special key.

Fortunately, you can swap out the standard lug nuts for security wheel locks easily without taking a trip down to the dealership or auto repair shop.

The wheel locks are difficult to open if you do not have the special key. Thus, making them some sort of cheap insurance policy for your wheels and tires. However, you need to ensure that the wheel lock key is with you at all times so you can take the wheel and tire off when needed.

As you can imagine, there are many options when it comes to wheel locks on the market – with almost similar design and style. Here are five things you should look into to identify the best wheel lock for your vehicle.

Thread Size

Wheel studs are threaded bolts – or studs – that protrude through holes in your car’s wheels and onto which you thread the wheel or lug nuts. Most cars have either four or five studs for each wheel. But some SUVs, vans and trucks may have up to eight of them on each wheel.

When looking for wheel nuts, the first thing you need to consider is the thread size. You can get the measurement of the thread size using a simple thread pitch gauge. Alternatively, take one of the standard lug nuts to a local hardware store and spin into it bolts they have in store.

Thread diameter or size is the measurement of the outside diameter of your wheel stud threads. You can find them in standard (1/2” or 7/16”, and more) or metric (14mm or 12mm, and more) measurements.

The commonest thread sizes for cars are 5/8”, 9/16”, 1/2”, 7/16”, 14mm, 12mm and 10mm. You can find your vehicle’s thread sizes on its manufacturer website or owner’s manual.

Thread Pitch

Thread pitch is the measurement of the distance between threads in millimeters in metric applications or threads per inch in non-metric applications. Using the thread pitch gauge, you can easily identify your vehicle’s thread pitch measurement. However, if your car has already been modified, it’s worth verifying the thread pitch before you purchase a lug nut wheel lock set.

Seat Type

The seat refers to area where the lug nut makes actual contact with your car’s wheel surface. The most common wheel seat types are:

  • Acorn or tapered cone seat
  • Mag seat with washer
  • Ball seat
  • Flat seat
  • Spherical or ball seat
  • Extended thread (ET)
  • Tuner style
  • Small diameter spine drive

It is critical that you match the lug nut seat to the wheel seat. Using the wrong type will likely see your wheel not seat properly, causing vibration and loosening of the lug nuts.

Length or Dimensions of Wheel Locks

It is vital that you confirm your wheel locks or lug nuts dimensions so you get the proper fit for both aesthetic and safety purposes. The measurements you need to take into account include the outside diameter and overall length.  Also, you need to determine the proper shank diameter and depth for mag style locks and nuts.

Finish or Color

The good thing is that lug nuts and locks are available in an assortment of colors and finishes. These varieties include blue, red, silver, yellow chromate, zinc, stainless steel, black chrome and chrome plated. Once you have had a chance to consider all the fitting measurements, all that remains is choosing the best wheel locks according to your preferred style.

Final Word

Most wheel locks on the market are sold in packs of four under the assumption that you install a lock on each wheel. This is sufficient for many car owner requirements. However, some companies offer wheel locks in sets of 20, allowing the total replacement of the lug nuts.

Jim Thompson