A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph Goodman
Trailers are stolen quite a bit. They are easy to sell once stolen and are often easy to steal in the first place. You need to know how to protect your trailer because there is a high likelihood that eventually your trailer will be targeted. And if it is stolen, you are not likely to get it back. The security we are going to focus on in this article is trailer locks. More than just trailer hitch locks (but those too), we will talk about all the relevant trailer locks you might be able to make use of.
It is not obvious what we are talking about when we discuss the topic of trailer locks. There are a few types of ways you can lock a trailer. Below you can find the most important types of trailer locks.
Hoop Lock – A common trailer hitch lock is something like the Reese Lock. This uses the hoop lock design, similar to what you would see with a U-lock for bicycle security or even some motorcycle security. These products work by having a ball fit into the trailer hitch and a shackle fasten over the top of the hitch. You adjust the shackle so the lock cannot be slipped off, and then no one can hook up your trailer without the key to the lock.
Or that is hope at least. Though this is an extremely popular style of trailer hitch lock, they are largely ineffective at protecting from even the most incompetent type of thief. We will get a little bit into what makes these products so poor at defending your trailer against criminals, but it has to do with mass production tactics that’s sole purpose is to keep costs low.
Hitch Pin Lock – Some people will only secure a hitch pin with a basic spring steel clip, but there are many products that work by locking the hitch pin more securely in place. This is preferred by some because they do not trust basic spring steel to hold up over time and just want a more secure fastener for their hitch pin, but many more use these locks as their sole trailer hitch lock.
If this point on the trailer security setup is removed, your trailer can be taken away and the hitch can be reattached to another vehicle. I would never recommend that this type of trailer hitch lock be your only trailer lock, but you can still get some level of security out of it. Many of the mass produced products have glaring security issues, so it is important to get the best hitch pin lock if you are planning on using one.
Trailer Door Lock – For enclosed trailers, you need to worry about more than someone taking the entire trailer. What you are storing inside could be significantly more valuable, and if you do not have the right type of trailer lock for your door, thieves can target the contents of your trailer rather than the whole trailer.
Musicians and service professionals can have copious amounts of expensive electronic equipment and power tools, both of which are easy to resell. Often what you are storing in an enclosed trailer is meant to be semi-mobile, so criminals may try to unload the trailer instead of stealing it. The biggest concern for a trailer lock you intend to put on a door is that it needs to hold up to attacks on the lock body, shackle, and the hasp it is secured to. A great padlock should be enough to achieve this.
Trailer Wheel Lock – Keeping your trailer locked up has a lot to do with hoping to immobilize it until otherwise needed. This type of trailer lock secures around the wheel/tire of a trailer and is meant to keep the assembly from being towed away if any other trailer lock is compromised. There are many types of trailer wheel locks on the market, most of which have very well known weakness, including pulling, tire deflation, wheel removal, etc.
You want a trailer wheel lock that can prevent most of these things, or at least makes them more difficult to accomplish quickly or simply. You might be able to use this type of trailer lock as your sole trailer security, but only if you use the best possible products. Included in this list are options for sole protection and security meant as an addition to other forms of security.
I will start this off by reiterating that this type of trailer hitch lock is hardly a security product, but it might be necessary to secure the trailer hitch to your vehicle. So if you are forced by circumstances to use trailer hitch lock pin, it is worth it to get the best possible security out of this trailer lock. Bolt gives you the best protection out of all the other available low-security trailer hitch locks of this ilk.
You can take a look at a rather dramatic example of the Bolt trailer hitch lock pin being attached as compared to other products. It is significantly better and will allow you more time to react or even discover that there is an issue. It might also take so much time to overwhelm that criminals get anxious and leave.
If you are going to use this form of trailer lock regardless, it is beneficial to add a security precaution that works better than the competition. Alternatively, you could use a cheaper trailer hitch pin lock, but it will provide close to no security. So I would say either don’t concern yourself with the security of this type of trailer lock, or get the Bolt Trailer Hitch Lock Pin.
This type of trailer lock is perfect for people looking to add security to their trailer. It serves to have an additional level of protection and keep whatever you are securing from being rolled away easily. But here is the big disclaimer: this lock is far from perfect. It should not be your sole form of trailer security. And this should certainly not be the only trailer lock that you use.
This is the minimum protection that I would recommend if you are looking for some kind of wheel lock. There are other cheaper products that do not cover the lug nuts, so you will need to buy additional products to protect your tires from being removed. But with this type of wheel lock, you are getting all of the basics in one product.
You can find this type of lock available from other manufacturers, but they are largely the same. This type of wheel lock is also manufactured by Trimax, which is a name you may associate with quality, but it is not a great product. Save the extra money and go with something like the Dealkoo, that way you don’t feel as ripped off by the quality. It is far from perfect, but for the price, you can get some great additional security from this trailer lock.
This padlock uses the puck style lock body and shutter style shackle, which results in a lock that is hard to remove. Different from the more universal Mul-T-Lock padlock, the Mul-T-Lock puck lock works to lock the door of an enclosed trailer while also protecting the hasp that it is attached to. But you can also be used to replace the standard puck lock that you will receive with the Proven trailer lock.
What makes this trailer lock so fantastic is not only the physical shape of it but also the level of craft and effort that has gone into making it. It is unlikely that someone is going to be able to break it off the hasp, and due to the construction, cutting through the lock will take quite a bit of time. It is possible that a criminal could overwhelm this lock with brute force, but it would take highly specific tools, time, and end up making a lot of noise.
The trailer lock also has a Mul-T-lock MT5+ lock core, so there is a pretty unlikely chance that anyone is going to open the lock covertly or surreptitiously. Don’t get me wrong, this type of lock can be picked, and has been many times in the past, but there is so close to no chance that a criminal will have these skills that it is highly improbable. Not impossible to pick, but it is pretty close to impossible that someone actually will pick it.
You might recognize the name Brahma as one of the most important figures in the history of security, or you might not. This is just to say, that the Brahma name continues to be on the cutting edge of highly advanced and effective security. The Brahma wheel lock is just another example of the quality engineering and designing that goes into making their industry defining security products.
Under the category of trailer lock, this lock falls into the subcategory of wheel lock. Meaning that you are not securing the trailer hitch, but rather keeping one or more wheels from allowing the trailer to move. Using this particular product is the best step you can take to secure your wheels. It is the highest security option, as opposed to the Dealkoo’s minimum security standards.
With this trailer lock, you get lug nut protection for your wheels, but it can also hold up to towing attacks that rely on securing a chain to the wheel lock and then pulling it with the full force of the criminal’s vehicle. You might be able to position your trailer so pulling attacks could not be tried as reliably with trailer locks like the Dealkoo, but the Brahma removes the concern altogether.
When you compare the Proven Industries trailer lock to every other trailer hitch lock on the market, there really is hardly a comparison. It is a huge thick metal slip cover that expertly pairs with a lock type that creates no obvious weakness. The lock used to secure the steel slip cover is a puck lock, which allows you to upgrade the removable core or just choose to use the Mul-T-lock MT5+ TR 100 “Hockey Puck”.
As far as trailer hitch locks go, there is not much more than you can ask for. Basic cutting attacks that would work to open most other trailer hitch locks in seconds. Prying attacks, which are more common than cutting, are ultimately not an issue with such a trailer hitch lock as this.
You can also get this lock in several varying sizes depending on the size of your trailer hitch. This trailer hitch lock can also be closed in a way that allows for the greater protection of your security chain. The housing for this trailer hitch lock is a solid quarter inch of steel, and it is made in a way that a pair of bolt cutters is not going to do anything.
A key indicator of lower quality is the type of metal that the lock parts are made out of. In security, you are only as strong as your weakest link, and some of these trailer locks have many different pieces. They can even try to hide metal composition by diverting focus to another part of the lock.
Maybe the shackle is hardened steel, but what about the housing? What is the securing ball made from? What about the bolt being used to fasten the ball to the housing? If any of these points are weak, the entire lock will be compromised. Metals to look out for are zinc and aluminum, both of which are too malleable or fragile for high-security purposes. Though extruded aluminum can sometimes work.
The size and proportions of your trailer hitch will keep certain trailer hitch locks from working effectively. Always be sure to take the relevant measurements, and be aware of other objects that you have the potential to keep these locks from properly securing to the trailer. Just read the specs from the lock’s description and cross reference them with the information you have documented about your own trailer. Most negative reviews of trailer locks have to do with the device not fitting the buyer’s pre-existing equipment.
How the coupler is attached to your trailer has a lot to do with the amount of security you need. For example, the trailer hitch lock can be ignored altogether if the coupler is only bolted on. Similar to this issue of how the coupler is bolted together, there is an issue with only using a padlock to secure the hasp of the coupler.
Often the hasp can be removed entirely by simply going underneath the device. With a socket wrench of the appropriate size, you can have the hasp removed entirely. The padlock and hasp can be discarded and the trailer can be taken away.
Something is not bad by virtue of being popular. But security devices that are popular need to be viewed with a higher level of scrutiny, as this often has to do with price point. Keeping the price passed on to the customer low has a lot to do with keeping the cost of production low. Low production costs rely very heavily on using materials that are cheap to work with and cheap to gain access to.
Strong metals do not fit either of those criteria. And if something is not cheap, it is less likely to be placed in stores, because it will not appeal to the mass market. So if you see a lot of people using something, investigate whether or not they are all investing in what they have determined to be the best security, or if they have settled for something accessible and cheap.
When you know the different types of trailer locks, you can better navigate the great choices before you. Beware of the types of considerations that can affect a trailer lock. While you are looking for the best trailer security, be sure to make the investment in a quality trailer lock. Whether you are getting a trailer hitch lock or some other form of trailer lock, security begins with the way you lock your trailer.