Van locks explained

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

A van lock

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

And unfortunately criminals are dab hands at getting through standard van security.

So, what can you do? There are lots of ways to make your van less of a target to thieves and to protect it, and whatever is kept inside.

These measures could include installing an aftermarket van deadlock or a van slamlock. Having the right kind of van security locks can keep criminals at bay. 

Here we look at your options when it comes to security including how to find the best van locks to keep your valuables secure. 


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:


Do van locks increase van security?

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 security 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 is a van deadlock?

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.

Using a van deadlock is one of 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.

A van deadlock is 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.

You can’t unlock a van deadlock 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 much does it cost to fit a van 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 is a van slam lock?

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 is 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. This is because carrying large or bulky items can make it hard to lock the door manually.

Being able to lock your van just by shutting the door could help keep your van secure while you’re making deliveries.

Slam locks can be unlocked from the inside, though. 

How much does it cost to fit a slam lock?

Fitting a van slam lock could set you back around £130 although your van model and the brand of lock you’re using could change this price. 


Is a van deadlock better than a van slam lock?

Which lock is better for you 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 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 is a catalytic converter lock?

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. However, 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 stealing the catalytic converter much more difficult.

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

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 about 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

Security cages

A step up from a lockbox is a security cage which is a lockable area inside your van - they can take up a proportion of the floorspace for extra protection for certain items, or can fill the van.

Either way they provide an additional layer of security for a thief to breach.


Choosing the best van security locks for you

The type of lock you choose will depend upon the make and model of your van, where you keep it, and your budget. 

A slam lock could be most appropriate for those who have lots of drop offs, such as delivery drivers, while a deadlock may be more secure and better suited to those who don’t need frequent access to the vehicle.


What else can I do to improve van safety?

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: 

1. Install an additional 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. 

2. 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. 

3. Add security film to the windows

Security film will hold broken glass in place if a thief tries to smash your windows to gain access to your van. This makes it much more difficult to gain access. The film can be tinted to limit people seeing the contents of your van as well.

4. Install a lock protection plate

Sometimes van locks are bypassed completely by drilling a hole just above the handle or by forcing a screwdriver through the gap to pop the doors open.

A stainless steel protection plate can stop this happening and can even be installed over the existing damage if this has already happened

5. 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.


Protect your vehicle

Visit Tracker to improve your vehicle's security. Buy a tracking device

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