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07 Jun 2021
Jamie Gibbs Jamie Gibbs

Van locks explained


Blue van with slam lock installed

Looking to upgrade your van’s security? Installing new locks is one way to make your van less attractive to thieves.

Owning a van isn’t without its risks. If you own a van for business, you may find that it’s a bigger target for thieves than a car would be.

Since vans are often used by tradespeople and couriers, there’s often a wealth of expensive equipment kept inside.

So, what can you do?

Installing robust locks on your van is one way you can keep the criminals at bay. But which ones are best for you? Let’s take a look at your options.


What are the different types of van locks?

These are the most common types of lock you can get to make your van more secure:


What are the benefits of van locks?

Installing locks on your van will act as a visible deterrent to thieves. Many thefts are opportunistic, so thieves are likely to look for an easy steal.

If they see your van is fitted with a decent lock, they may decide not to bother.

And, if the lock is well made, even the more determined thief might have a hard time breaking into your van.

Depending on where you fit your locks, you’ll improve the security of the van itself as well as any valuable equipment inside.


Do van locks make my van insurance cheaper?

Van insurance companies work out your costs based on risk. The bigger the risk that your van will be stolen or broken into, the higher your prices tend to be.

So, if you beef up your security by installing a lock to your van, this risk is lower.

Security isn’t the only factor that goes into working out how much you pay for your van insurance. Insurance companies look at many, including:

  • What type of van you drive

  • How you use it

  • Your location

  • Your occupation.

For more information, check out our tips for cheaper van insurance.

If you install new locks on your van, some insurance companies may consider it to be a modification. And with that may come higher insurance costs.

If in doubt, check with your insurance company before making any big changes to your van.

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What are deadlocks?

Deadlocks are among the most popular van security options.

They’re an extra locking mechanism that you fit to your van’s doors, so you’ve got an extra level of protection.

Deadlocks are key operated, so there’s less risk of accidentally locking yourself out.

Since deadlocks use a separate mechanism to the rest of the van, it’s that much harder to break into. Even if thieves manage to get past the van’s original lock, they’ll also have the deadlock to contend with.

Van deadlocks can’t be unlocked from inside the van either. So, if a thief tried to smash a window and open the van from the inside, they’d get nowhere.


How secure are van deadlocks?

A van deadlock could effectively double the security of your van. And, because there’s no spring mechanism, they’re difficult to pick or force open.

In most cases, the only way to get past the deadlock is by using the key. So, as long as you keep the key safe, the deadlock should be sound.


How much does it cost to fit a deadlock?

According to the Master Locksmiths Association, it costs around £130 to fit a deadlock to each van door.

But prices may vary depending on where you are. It’s worth shopping around and getting quotes from a few locksmiths before committing.


What are slam locks?

The main difference between a slam lock and a deadlock is that a slam lock doesn’t need a key to lock it.

As the name implies, a slam lock will lock as soon as you shut the door. The only way to open it again it with a key.

The slam lock replaces the function of the door handle on the van. So, instead of pulling the door handle to open the van, you turn the key and the door pops open.

Slam locks tend to be the lock of choice for drivers who make many drop offs, like couriers. Being able to lock your van just by shutting the door could help keep your van secure while you’re making many deliveries.

Slam locks can be unlocked from the inside, though.


How much does it cost to fit a slam lock?

As with deadlocks, fitting a slam lock could set you back around £130. Again, your van model and the brand of lock you’re using could change this price.


Are deadlocks better than slam locks?

Which lock is better depends on how you use your van.

If you’re a courier who makes frequent deliveries, a slam lock could be more appropriate. This is because there’s a reduced risk of the van being left unlocked.

But, since slam locks are integrated with your existing locking mechanism, you only have the one line of defence.

Since deadlocks are an added layer of security that can’t be picked or unlocked from inside, these could be more secure.


What are catalytic converter locks?

Catalytic converters clean up harmful emissions from the van and turn them into less harmful substances.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals that help them break down these pollutants. And it’s these precious metals that thieves target.

The main type of catalytic converter lock is Catloc. This acts as a cage around the catalytic converter itself and makes removing the converter much more difficult.

Catlocs were originally designed for Toyota vehicles. But these locks are now compatible with many manufacturers.


How much does it cost to fit a catalytic converter lock?

On average, you’re looking at around £120 to buy a catalytic converter lock. If you’re not mechanically minded, get in touch with your local garage to check fitting costs.


What are internal van locks?

If you’re looking for extra security again, there are options to fit locks inside your van. Here you’ve a few options.


Steering wheel and gear lever locks

These are sometimes called mechanical immobilisers. These locks clamp to your steering wheel or attach your hand brake to your gear stick.

So, even if a thief breaks into your van, they’ll have a hard time trying to make off with it.


Secure lockboxes

If you’re transporting tools in your van, you can use lockboxes that bolt to the floor of the van.

These secure storage boxes could help keep your valuable tools safe if you can’t take them out overnight. If you’re concerned about your tools, you might want to look into tool cover.


What else can I do to make my van secure?

Fitting your van with new locks is one way to make your van more secure. But there are some other things you can do to bolster your security:


Install an alarm and immobiliser

One way to protect your van from theft is with an engine immobiliser and alarm. Even if a thief manages to break into your van, they’re less likely to start the engine without a key.


Mark your tools with a UV pen

Tools and high value equipment are a big target for thieves. Marking your possessions like this helps police get them back to you if they’re found or sold on.


Add a tracker to your van

Even if your van is stolen, having a tracker could help police find your van before thieves try to dispose of it. Systems used by TRACKER, for example, connect to police databases and use GPS to find stolen vehicles quickly.

For more information, check out our tips on keeping your van secure.


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