New wheel-lock system curbs theft

3rd October 2008

New wheel-lock devices from vehicle security company Grip-Tech provide total wheel security for all vehicle applications, including cars, bakkies, trucks and trailers.

Grip-Tech MD Manuel Reis says that the Auto-Grip wheel lock system is the only wheel lock system for all vehicles to be developed in South Africa. The locks have internally recessed profiles with multiple code patterns and internal cores. These high security features make the wheel locks resistant to all common attacks by thieves. The locks are fastened to the vehicle with its existing tools by means of adapter keys that also incorporate key rings so they can be hung on a rack or attached to the vehicle's keys.

"When it comes to bakkie wheel security, Grip-Tech offers total wheel security by providing wheel locks that are coded alike for all five wheels, including the spare wheel," he says.

Reis explains that the spare wheel on bakkies and sport utility vehicles is mounted on the tailgate or underneath the chassis between the rear wheels where it is subjected to moisture, dirt, mud and impacts. This can cause conventional key operated spare wheel locks to jam, to rust or get damaged. In addition, these conventional spare wheel locks typically hang just below the spare wheel and lock onto a shaft that fits loosely through the wheel lug hole onto the chassis. Recently, thieves have started attacking the shaft by attempting to snap it off. The shaft can also damage the wheel lug hole through long term vibration.

"It is for these reasons that Grip-Tech designed new improved vehicle specific mounting kits with lock nuts for spare wheels on bakkies. The Auto-Grip system was developed with no moving parts, and locks directly onto the wheel rim so it will never damage the rim and will never jam, even if covered in mud. It eliminates the weaknesses of conventional key-operated systems, and provides greater security, value and convenience," Reis says.

Grip-Tech has developed its wheel lock designs to include truck wheels as well.

"Providing wheel security for trucks is different, because most trucks and trailers normally travel fully loaded and form part of a fleet that is driven by employee drivers that stop at different locations and over-night stops. The increasing number of trucking operators has increased the incidence of wheel theft, owing to the high cost of tyres and rims. The risk of stolen wheels impacts not only on the replacement cost, but also related accidents involving the truck, trailer, its load, and third party vehicles. These costs can run to millions of rands and poor service delivery. Grip-Tech had to come up with a solution where the truck wheel locks could handle the high torque and related stresses on wheel nuts of full-loaded trucks driving long distances over rough terrain, and still maintain security while not impeding quick wheel changes at night and in remote locations," Reis points out.

He says that the company also considered manufacture's guarantees, maximum loads, and the use of existing wheel tools to reduce downtime and trouble-free operation when it developed its wheel locks for the large freight market.

"Our wheel locks were therefore specifically designed to comply with all brands of wheel nuts on local trucks and trailers with metric sizes, as well as aluminium alloy rims, American imperial sizes, and Asian wheel nuts with inner sleeved nuts on the rear axles," Reis adds.

The Auto-Grip wheel lock solutions effectively solve these issues, providing cost-effective wheel protection, without the need for special tools or skills. The lock is installed by fitting the wheel nut normally using the existing wheel tools as recommended by the manufacturer's torque specifications, and then attaching the cover with the lock bolt and tightening with the supplied key.

The slip-ring cover prevents access to the wheel nut and is locked with a special embedded Auto-Grip lock bolt that allows the cover to rotate around the wheel nut. The lock bolt only requires a normal 17-mm to 19-mm hex socket wrench. The wheel lock system is weather and dust proof, owing to the cover being internally sealed to the nut by O-rings, which also prevent vibration and the accumulation of road dirt. The wheel locks are available in single or multiple axle packs, and can be supplied keyed alike to fit a complete fleet of trucks and trailers, including bakkies and pool cars. "These locks have been successfully fitted to many small and large fleets with a variety of truck and trailer combinations," Reis says.

He adds a further key feature is that should the security of a specific wheel lock be compromised owing to lost or stolen keys, the lock codes can be changed cost-effectively and quickly, because only the bolt lock-mechanism needs to be replaced, and not the complete wheel lock.

Reis comments that Grip-Tech considers all aspects of the application in its design solutions, and aims to offer its clients cost-effective security solutions, while at the same time not compromising on security.

Grip-Tech's Auto-Grip system is approved by vehicle manufacturers such as motorcraft brand Ford South Africa, and the fleet management arm of Daimler-Chrysler in South Africa, DeBis.

Grip-Tech is a member of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers of South Africa (Naacam), and the Vehicle Security Association of South Africa (Vesa).

Reis says that Grip-Tech's Auto-Grip branded wheel locks are currently the only wheel locks approved by Vesa's stringent Accreditation Bureau of Security and Safety (ABS) and is also endorsed by truck insurers.

The company is a small, medium and micro enterprise company, supporting the aims of broad-band black economic empowerment and currently has Level four recognition in this regard. It also has a foreign office in Shanghai China, with assembly and manufacturing facilities in the region that allow the company a portal into the Asian and export markets.

Reis says that aside from its branded vehicle security solutions, Grip-Tech also manufactures gearlocks and pinlocks, and has developed computer safes and security drawers for laptops and valuables. It is interested in expanding its distributor and dealer network.