With decades of experience as a Parts Manager at new car dealerships I could not begin to count how many times I have been asked by a customer “Can I install that myself?”. It is such an open question it is hard to answer.
Unlike many aftermarket accessories, genuine auto accessories are designed by the manufacturer to precise and exacting specifications to easily fit the specific year and model of the vehicle it was made for. Many aftermarket accessories are made to apply to as many different models as they can for a broader range of coverage.
That often means many non-genuine accessories “kind of” fit a lot of models. So with genuine accessories you do have the advantage of the product being easier to install because it was usually made specifically for that vehicle.
Wheel locks use many different keys. There is not a “single” master key that will fit all locks. If you purchase a new set of locks the key that comes with it will probably not fit your old locks.
Wheel lock sets come with a lock code from the lock manufacturer. With that code you can order a replacement key. Most will also allow you to register your locks with them so they can supply you a replacement if you lose it.
If you are not able to find the code and you are still able to drive your vehicle you can go to your local new car dealer. If it is a factory style lock set they have a “master” key set and may be able to remove your locks. You can then either purchase a new set of locks with a new key or get the code to order a replacement key.
Going to a repair shop to have them removed can be expensive. Depending on the type of locks on your vehicle there are tools available to help remove them.
How well protected are my wheels using wheel locks? Wheel locks are a good deterrent for would-be thieves. They are not impossible to remove without the key, but very difficult.
Given enough time and privacy wheel locks can be defeated. Brute force with chisels, oversize sockets, cutting torch, and master keys can eventually overcome locks. But if your neighbor or parking lot partner has similar wheels with no locks then chances are good a thief will not spend the time to go after your protected wheels.
When taking scuba diving classes many years ago the question of if you should have a dive knife when you are in an area with sharks was asked. The instructors answer was yes. He went on to explain, if you were to be chased by a shark you could use it to stab your dive partner to allow you to get away. Thieves and threats will go for the easy prey. If you make your wheels harder to steal they will usually go elsewhere for an easier target.
Wheel locks are a great way to help protect your expensive alloy wheels. Factory alloy wheels can cost several hundred dollars each and some more than a thousand dollars each.
Wheel locks are used in place of the wheel lug nuts. Usually one lug nut on each wheel is replaced with a wheel lock that can only be removed with a special key.
They often have a smooth outside surface that a wrench cannot grip onto. In the center they have a special design that only the key with that same special design can fit into. Some other wheel locks can use irregular shaped outer splines or uniquely shaped internal sockets.
To install and remove the locks you must use the key that fits into a regular socket or lug nut wrench.