Getting bogged in the sand dunes

Lockdown: Choosing The Right Towing Lock For Your Trailer Or Caravan

by Andrea Muñoz

It's fair to say that security is one of the primary concerns of anybody who owns a trailer or caravan - thieves are always becoming more inventive and efficient when it comes to stealing them, sometimes in broad daylight and right out of their owner's driveway. Fortunately, there are a dizzying array of towing hitch locks available on the market to thwart trailer thieves (not to mention lower your trailer insurance premiums), but not every towing lock is suitable for every trailer, or every budget.

Below are some of the most common types of hitch locks, along with their strengths and weaknesses:

Swivel lock pins

These simple devices take the place of the standard pin and clip that are fitted as standard to almost every hitch receiver, and provide much more security. These small metal cylinders are inserted in the hole in a hitch receiver where the pin and clip would normally rest, and are secured in place with a sturdy padlock.

Because of their simplicity and small size, swivel lock pins are very cheap, and can be found for as little as a few dollars. They are also very easy to fit, and can potentially be supplemented with other locking devices, although this will depend on your hitch configuration. However, they only provide very basic security - they are only as secure as the padlock fitted to them, which can usually be taken off fairly quickly with an angle grinder or pair of bolt cutters. While they are suitable for securing your trailer or caravan temporarily while travelling, more robust measures should be taken while at home.

Dog bone locks

Essentially an extension of the swivel lock concept, these larger, heavier locks are more robust, due to the bone-like shape that prevents easy access to the lock, and gives this kind of lock its name. Most dog bone locks come with an integrated locking system rather than an external padlock, for added security. Many dog bone locks also come with metal box enclosures, which fit around the entirety of the hitch and make it much harder to reach the lock.

These locks are much more secure than simple swivel locks, and are not considerably more expensive for low end models. That said, it's worth spending a little extra of a top-of-the-line device, preferably of galvanised steel or titanium construction. Dog bone locks represent the minimum level of security suitable for trailers that are left alone for long periods, but if you supplement them with wheel clamps and other devices you can be reasonably assured of your trailer's security.

Coupler locks

Coupler locks are some of the most common towing locks, due in no small part to their excellent security. These U-shaped locks slot over the entire hitching arrangement of your trailer or caravan, and are enclosed in a robust, lockable casing. A well-fitted coupler lock can withstand a great deal of punishment. These devices often come with security balls, which fit into the cup of the trailer's hitch where the tow ball would normally be placed, to provide even more protection.

Coupler locks are generally more expensive than other options, but are generally considered well worth the extra expense. The biggest advantage of coupler locks is that they can remain fitted to your trailer even when it is hitched to a towing vehicle - however, they should not be left on while the vehicle is in motion, as they alter the towing characteristics of a trailer, and prevent authorities from moving your trailer quickly in an accident or emergency.