How to Get a Locks Lug On a Boat Trailer

Boats get stolen – that’s just how it is. So, if you’ve got a beautiful “sea cruiser” parked somewhere outside, you might want to think about tightening security. Now, according to the experts, locks lugs, also known as the locking lugs, are the most effective solution against thieves. They are very cheap, available at pretty much all hardware stores, and take very little time to install.

There are some things to know before you start using them, though. You need to get the right size, mount them the right way, and make sure you’ve got enough lugs for each wheel, among other things. Plus, I want you to take a quick look at other ways to secure your boat as well. So, join me, and let’s learn how to get a locks lug on a boat trailer!

So, what’s the Deal with Lock Lugs?

Trailer wheel locksYou know what regular lugs look like and what they’re for, right? Well, locking lugs are almost the same, but they can’t be removed unless you’ve got a key. The only purpose for locking lugs is to, well, lock the trailer and prevent someone from driving away with it. More specifically, they lock the wheel locks, making it impossible to drive away with the trailer. Some mechanics use the term trailer wheel locks to describe them.

The big question is – are the lock lugs truly effective, or not? Here are the facts: an experienced team of robbers can just break through whatever “line of defense” you’ve got. However, most looters and hijackers are just local low-lives that will be scared away by the lugs and leave your boat alone.

Installing Locks Lugs on your Trailer

A locking wheel nut/lug is super smooth on the outside. That means it can’t be removed with a regular wrench or socket. Again, the only way to get it off is to insert a key that comes as part of the package when you buy the lugs. The wrench will only be able to turn the lug once the key is inside. Now, the most important thing to do before buying a set of locking lugs is to make sure they’ll match your trailer’s wheels.

Grab a measuring tape and measure the center-to-center distance between two bolt holes sitting across from each other. The same technique applies to four- six-, and eight-bolt wheels. Or, just check your user manual. In my experience, two lugs on each wheel are more than enough to protect the trailer. Gorilla, McGard, and dynofit are some of the most reliable locking lug nuts on the market right now. The average price on a set of four is $20-30.

The best tool for installing lug nuts is a hex wrench. But first, don’t forget to remove the factory lug nuts with a regular wrench. If they don’t budge, don’t be afraid of using some of that “elbow grease” .Oh, and the engine should be off and on park. Plus, if you’ve got a hubcap on the wheels, remove those for easy access. Don’t over tighten the new wheel locks, by the way, as that can lead to trouble. Again, check the manual for the correct torque.

As for the key, mechanics recommend making a copy (ask a local locksmith), because if you lose that one and only key, you’ll have to pay a mechanic 150-200 dollars to remove the lugs.

More Ways to Secure your Boat

Trailer Locks - hitch lockSo, we’ve talked about how to use locking lugs to keep thieves at bay. They are pretty reliable against most robbers. However, that’s not the only remedy against potential boat hijackers. If you want your boat to be truly protected, you might want to check out some other security options.

Trailer Locks

For example, boat trailer tongue locks are also highly effective. In fact, I strongly recommend using them in combination with lugs to make your sea vessel even more secure. Also known as coupler or hitch locks, these protect the hitch – the most vulnerable part of any trailer. With the locks on, nobody will be able to just come up, hook it up, and steal the trailer in the middle of the night.

Chain Locks

And what about chain locks? They deserve your attention as well. The best way to use a chain is to put it through the wheels of the boat trailer and around it. Statistically, boats with chains are less likely to be “attacked” by thieves. The reason – they look pretty hard to cut through. Besides, it will take a really long time to get rid of the chains with some basic tools. That means the bad guys will probably attract a lot of unwanted attention.

Go with heavy-duty steel chains that come with a spring hook. Stainless steel is the best option, as it won’t rust over time while exposed to rain. Thanks to a heated competition on the market, premium-quality chains are available for $10-15, or even less, depending on your area/state. Plus, they last for many years and require no maintenance whatsoever.


Last, but not least, get your hands on a set of ground anchors. They are lightweight, easy to carry, and won’t cost you a pretty penny. A decent set (a four-pack) can be yours for 20-30 US dollars. When activated, these anchors are extremely difficult to remove/move around. Together, all these boat trailer locks should protect your lovely ship from anyone trying to steal it.

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