Ever since cars were sold to the general public, safety was an issue that came with it. Safety while driving your car is a story for another day. Here we shall look at the safety of a parked car. If you were wondering, yes, it is keeping your car protected from theft. And what part does a car steering wheel lock play in this story?
If someone did go through with the process of stealing a car, the first barrier they have to break is the door lock, followed up by the ignition. Even if he did pass these tests he would have to go through the steering wheel lock. But how effective is the steering wheel lock against theft?
Driving a car without the ability to steer is impossible. A locked steering wheel is not just a minor inconvenience. If the thief who tries to steal your car encounters a locked steering wheel, that is fine. That is exactly what the lock is supposed to do. But what if it malfunctions? What if you were the one in the driver’s seat when the steering wheel locks up? What is your next step?
What Is A Car Steering Wheel Lock?
The name steering wheel lock, explains its function. A steering wheel lock is a device that helps ensure the security of a parked car. There are 2 aspects when it comes to steering wheel locks. One is the built-in steering lock. Secondly, we have an external device that we attach to the steering wheel in order to lock it. Let’s see how steering wheel locks work.
Built-In Car Steering Wheel Lock
Your car is equipped with a steering wheel lock, that is already functional. Some car owners do not know this, but it can be useful in situations.
How to activate this steering lock? When your car is parked and you switch off your engine and remove the key you might notice that you can still turn the steering wheel. But make a hard turn in any direction, and your steering wheel will lock up. After that, you won’t be able to turn it an inch from the locked position.
Once you insert the key back into the ignition and start your car that is when the steering wheel lock is disengaged. So without the key, the steering wheel will not budge.
Other than the built-in lock, there are external contraptions that you can attach to lock your steering wheel. These have been introduced to the world since the early 1990s. It elevates the security of your car to a whole new level. With the progression of time, these locks have become more secure and easy to install.
If you have an older car with no alarm system or a built-in steering lock, this extension can prove to be useful. And even if your car comes with the top of the line security, this extra addition could make it much harder to steal.
There are a few designs for steering wheel locks in today’s market. But the principle is simple and always the same. When the lock is engaged, it will act as a barrier, when turning the steering wheel.
How Does A Car Steering Lock Work?
A steering lock is a device that keeps the steering locked with an angular direction so that the professional thief can’t take it away. After the engine is switched off, the steering lock is engaged. If someone does try to steal your car, since the steering cannot be turned, he would be unsuccessful.
The steering lock prevents moving the car by making it unable to steer. In a locked car, an attempt to steer would end in a crash. The extension of the bar will not allow the user to properly turn the steering wheel. The windshield, other parts of the car, or even the driver’s leg will get in the way to stop the steering wheel from turning. After it is locked even the most experienced thief will not be able to take your car.
The club looks like a long shaft with two hooks on each side. And these hooks engage the wheel to the body of the car. The extended portion locks the steering wheel with a key. Once the steering doesn’t move, starting to drive is impossible. At best you would be able to turn the car a few degrees. But it won’t be enough to drive.
It also works in another way. This is by discouraging would-be thieves. The system is visible from the outside, so when the thief sees it he would not go through the hardships of stealing your car.
Once the device is locked, the only way to unlock it is with a key.
Is A Car Steering Lock Effective?
The million-dollar question. Can a steering lock completely eradicate the risk of your car being stolen? The answer is no, it can’t.
A steering wheel can protect your car to an extent. But if the thief really puts his mind into it and is obsessed with your car, he can steal it.
One possible way of removing the steering lock is by picking the lock. It is locked with a standard metal key. Ever since locks and keys were invented, there have been people who try to break them. In this case, breaking the lock is hard. But picking the lock is possible. If the thief consists of lockpicking skills in his portfolio, he can figure out a way to remove the steering lock.
Another way your car can be stolen is by cutting through. The locks are that are produced are not easy to cut. They are mostly made of metal. But the steering wheel, that is a completely different story. The steering wheel is made of soft material. Cutting the steering wheel is quite possible, and the only thing the thief would need is a saw. It will delay the theft but it will not stop it.
Why Is It Useful?
But nonetheless, a steering lock can reduce the chances of your car being stolen. Not many cars are equipped with steering wheel locks. So why would a thief choose a car that is locked? It doesn’t make sense for him to spend extra time and effort. So if he sees the steering wheel lock, he would move on and pick a different target.
With the introduction of modern technology such as chip keys and alarms in-car security, people thought car theft will be reduced. It did for a while. Now even thieves have adapted. Breaking through the electrical system is now a common scene. In a way, it is easier today than ever before.
What About The Built-In Steering Lock
The built-in steering lock seems to prove the same function as this contraption that is attached to your steering wheel. This might make you wonder why is this all necessary?
The built-in steering lock does lock your steering wheel, but it can be unlocked easily. For a car thief to steal your car, he needs to find a way to fire it up. He would either try to steal your key or try any other way to start your car. The steering lock will only work until the car is started. After that it is worthless. This means he doesn’t need to worry about the lock. Just needs to do the usual, find a way to start your car.
But if someone tries to move your car, without starting it, then this locking system will be worth it. If he breaks in through the door and then tries to move the car without starting it, then this lock would prove to be useful.
How To Choose The Best Car Steering Wheel Lock?
There are hundreds of different steering wheel locks in today’s market. While some of them have high standards, some are just visual deterrents. With all these choices, it could be overwhelming. So here are some factors that you need to look out for when you buy a steering wheel lock.
The material with which the steering wheel lock is made is a big part of the security it offers. Some of them are reliable while others can be simply bypassed with a saw. So before choosing a steering wheel lock car owners should consider the material it is made with.
Premium materials often cost a lot. So the best car steering wheel locks aren’t cheap. Reinforced steel is the best material for a steering lock. But it needs to be backed up with solid materials in the lock region as well. The same is the case with password-based locks. Ultimately it should be able to survive a hammer blow and also withstand a saw. If you want the best protection you should choose the best materials. Though some plastic locks may seem hard, they can be bypassed with the help of a few tools.
You might have also seen Cro-moly steering locks. These tend to be more expensive. The materials are tough enough. The keys are also laser cut so it makes them hard to duplicate.
There are a few different designs of steering locks. Every driver believes that a certain design is the safest. But actually, no steering lock is impenetrable. This is exactly why you should put a lot of thought into choosing the best design for your car. Even comparing the one hook design and the two hook design can be complicated.
But there are a few designs that have made their name in the world of steering locks. Many patented designs are now becoming popular as they give new experiences to the user. When a crook encounters a new design, he would need to adapt to it as well.
Patented designs don’t actually mean that the steering wheel lock is safer, but they can be a testament to the research put by the manufacturer in developing these products.
There are many options to consider. From designs that lock your steering and your brakes, the options are plentiful. Similar to looking for complexity and ingenuity, customers should also look for convenience. You don’t want to spend 10 minutes locking up your car every time.
When you choose a steering lock, you can opt to go for a key and lock system or a keyless lock system. You should choose which one is more practical for you. Neither is safer than the other.
What you should pour more attention to is the material the locking mechanism is made of. If it is made out of a soft material, it can act as a weak point in the system. So you should look for a lock that is more convenient for you and still strong enough.
Patented designs don’t actually mean that the steering wheel lock is safer, but they can be a testament to the research put by the manufacturer in developing these products.
Visibility is such an undervalued feature. Just the presence of a steering lock can prevent theft. It acts as a visual deterrent to thieves. In some cases, car thieves don’t even see there’s a steering wheel lock in place until they’re actually in the car. This is exactly why you should choose bright colors that would easily be visible from the outside.
Even though a visual deterrent might not always work, that is why the rest of the features are available. The combination of the material, design, locking system, and looks offer added protection for your car.
What If A Steering Wheel Lock Malfunctions?
A steering wheel lock is supposed to protect your car from theft. But if it malfunctions, you won’t be able to drive your car. The old-school steering lock device does not malfunction. And even if it does you are not in any kind of immediate danger.
But the built-in steering lock system does and this is a big problem. It could be frustrating when the steering wheel does not work, if it happens mid-drive, it could even be dangerous. The extra knowledge on why and how to deal with steering locks should come in handy.
Unable To Unlock
This is an issue that you would have faced if you regularly used the steering lock feature. Once you shut off the engine and turn the seeing wheel to one end, a pressure-released lock activates. After the lock is engaged, the steering wheel will be in a stationary position, until the ignition is turned.
So if you do walk in on your car and see that your steering wheel is locked, turning the key in the ignition should solve the problem. On some occasions, you won’t be able to turn the key. This is where panic sets in. But the solution is simple, and there is no need to panic. This is because the steering lock creates tension on the ignition lock. So turning the key will seem impossible.
Even though the steering lock is engaged you will be able to turn it slightly towards the center. Do that and try turning the key. This will take off the tension acting in the lock and you will be able to turn the key.
Steering Wheel Require More Effort To Turn
If you encounter a locked-up steering wheel or a steering wheel that is hard to turn, the problem could be with the steering fluid. If your steering wheel instantly locks up the cause is rarely the steering fluid. But if it gradually becomes harder to turn the culprit is most probably the steering fluid.
In a power steering system, the steering fluid acts as a hydraulic fluid. This means the fluid converts the force you apply to the steering wheel into hydraulic pressure. And then it transfers it to the road wheels.
If your steering system is low on steering fluid or the fluid inside has become dirty, the system will not be efficient. This means you would need to exert more force than usual to turn the car.
Steering Wheel Turns Only In One Direction
If your steering wheel locks up while attempting to turn in one direction or if it locks up at some point along its travel path, it indicates that you have power steering problems. If your steering works smoothly at any point of its path the problem being the power steering fluid is not likely. This means you have a much bigger problem in your hands.
In this case, the problem is more likely to be mechanical. It can either be a broken power steering rack or a cog that is clogged up. Fixing mechanical issues cost more than replacing power steering fluid. So if this was the case, you could try changing the power steering fluid before submitting the car for a repair.
The fluid can clean the steering system. So if it was dirt that caused the steering system to lock up, clean steering fluid can solve the issue. So it is worth a try, before continuing with an extensive and expensive procedure.
Steering Wheel Locked Up While Driving
Though a sudden steering wheel lock-up is so rare that is almost unheard of, it can happen. it’s possible that a sudden breakage in the steering mechanics like the steering column or the steering arms could cause the vehicle’s steering to suddenly lock up.
If this happens, the force that you exert on the steering wheel will not be transferred. It could be that the steering wheel is no longer connected to the road wheels. And your effort is not doing any good in your quest to turn the vehicle. Or a component of the steering system can be stuck in a way, that it opposing the force you are exerting. Either way, if the internal mechanics of the steering system breaks, a locked-up steering wheel is a real possibility.
How To Deal With A Locked Up Steering Wheel Mid-Drive?
A locked-up steering wheel, while you are driving, is a real nightmare. There is not much you can do at this point. The steering wheel allows you to control the car, if that is not working, then your car is literally, out of control.
If your steering wheel locks up, then you and everyone else in the road with you are in danger. So you should not risk driving any further. This doesn’t mean that you should immediately slam the brake. If you do so the car behind you can crash into yours.
So what should you do? If you can still maneuver your car even to the slightest degree, your first priority is to get off the road. Turn on your hazard signals to let everyone else know that you are in trouble. Then slowly guide your car to a stop at the edge of the road.
If your steering wheel completely locks up, you won’t be able to get to the side of the road. Turn on the hazard signals, and slowly decrease the speed of your car and get it to stop.
You can’t do much with a car with a locked steering wheel. At this point, your only option is to call a tow truck.
Car Security Facts: The Effectiveness of Steering Wheel Locks
- Steering wheel locks are a type of car security device that can prevent a thief from steering a car properly, making it harder for them to steal it.
- However, steering wheel locks can be defeated easily by professional thieves by cutting or disabling the device.
- Even heavier and larger steering wheel locks like the Disklok can be cut off in as little as 3-and-a-half minutes, according to a demonstration.
- While there are success stories and positive testimonials online about steering wheel locks like The Club and the Disklok, there are also negative reviews.
- To keep a car safe from theft, it’s better to add multiple layers of security, such as locking the car, using a car alarm, installing a GPS device, and using a steering wheel lock.
- There is no single solution that can prevent all car thefts.
- The Club is one of the original steering wheel locks to hit the market, and its popularity led to many copies and revisions of the device.
- The effectiveness of steering wheel locks has been debunked by car thieves and television shows over the years.
- Steering wheel locks can aid in preventing car theft, but they should be combined with other anti-theft devices for better protection.
- Layering security with multiple devices is more effective in deterring car theft than relying solely on a steering wheel lock.
Car Steering Wheel Lock – Summary
There is no specialized training needed to operate a steering wheel lock. So if you think that it is hard to operate, that should not discourage you from using a steering lock. In some cases, car thieves don’t even see there’s a steering wheel lock in place until they’re actually in the car.
Having a steering lock will not make your car theft-proof, but it will drastically reduce the chances of your car being stolen. If you do park your car in a nasty neighborhood and need some extra protection, or just need a bit of peace of mind while your car is parked, a car steering lock is certainly capable of offering that protection.
Even if a car is not parked on the city streets, it is still advisable to use a steering wheel lock. There is nothing to lose, and after a few days of using it, you should be able to get used to it.