BOLT lock coupler hoop
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

BOLT Lock Review: Simple Trailer Security Lightens Your Keychain

It’s unfortunate, but if you want to have nice things, you’d better lock them up. Even items as large as trailers should be secured — otherwise, they might wander off.

For years, we’ve kept our small Dinoot trailer secured when not in use. We’ve used a hitch coupler lock, a hitch pin lock, and a cable around the rear axle attached to our carport. If someone wants this trailer, they’re going to have to go through an ordeal to get it.

Speaking of ordeals, having all these theft-deterrents means having three keys just for those three locks. That’s on top of a key for the locking tailgate and a key for the rack, not to mention the key to the vehicle.

For such a tiny trailer, our keychain is huge. However, there’s a company out there that claims to cut down on key carrying. Enter Milwaukee-based BOLT Lock.

BOLT Lock products are based on the idea that you can use your vehicle’s ignition key with a variety of the brand’s locks. This can cut down on key congestion depending on your setup. The company offers locks for use with a variety of auto manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and many more.

Unfortunately for me, they didn’t have one that’d work with our old ‘90s Mitsubishis. But for this review, BOLT Lock sent me a generic Ford key that I was able to use. Hey, it still cuts way down on keys for our trailer.

How Do BOLT Locks Work?

Using BOLT Lock products couldn’t be easier. You open the package, take your vehicle’s ignition key, insert it into the lock, and turn it. This customizes the lock to your key. It also works for all of BOLT’s products, not just the ones mentioned here.

These other products include BOLT’s Off-Vehicle Coupler Lock, Pin Lock, and standard Padlock and Cable Lock.

Off-Vehicle Coupler Lock

BOLT Lock Coupler Lock
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

We’ve used a coupler lock for years but haven’t been fans. It feels cheap, is cumbersome to use, and has some corrosion on it that makes it hard to operate.

There’s nothing like the feeling of being ready to attach a trailer only to be unable to remove the coupler lock! In contrast, the BOLT Lock version feels and looks like something designed to protect Fort Knox.

Even before installation, we could tell this is a nicely made product. It’s powder-coated for corrosion resistance as well as visibility.

It fits 1.875-, 2-, and 2.3125-inch couplers. It’s weatherproof, has a double ball-bearing mechanism for smooth operation, a plate tumbler sidebar to prevent lock picking, and a stainless steel lock shutter to keep dirt and grime out. Plus, it’s got a limited lifetime warranty.

BOLT Lock Coupler Lock install
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

Installation was very easy. Simply choose the correct ball size and bolt it to the red plate using a wrench.

BOLT Lock Coupler Ball
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

Next, with the coupler in the open position, insert the ball into the coupler, then close it.

Bolt Lock Coupler Final
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

Then, take the black steel U-lock portion and put it into the slots on the red plate. Now, insert the supplied lock pin through the hole and attach the lock at the end. You’ll have to find which holes line up, but that’s pretty simple. The U-lock can get very close to the coupler’s lever so thieves can’t open it.

This setup is orders of magnitude nicer than the cheap version we were previously running. MSRP on this product is about $75, and that’s an inexpensive bit of insurance against having your trailer stolen.

The BOLT Lock Off-Vehicle Coupler Lock feels stout, well-made, and very secure. The locking mechanism feels high-quality with smooth action. It can be a little tricky to unlock because the lock tends to rotate, requiring two-handed operation, but that’s a minor gripe. This is a very nice unit.

Pin Lock

Pin Lock
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

When we got our trailer a few years ago, it came with a chintzy brass pin lock, and its operation wasn’t easy. The key barely fits in the slot, and locking and unlocking it is a cumbersome process.

We like to have a lock like this when the trailer is hooked up to the vehicle, as it helps to deter thieves from simply unhooking our trailer and leaving with it. (Using this in conjunction with a locking hitch pin, a product BOLT Lock also offers, is a good idea.)

The BOLT Pin Lock is about as simple as it gets. A long stainless steel pin is inserted into the coupler’s latch and can be locked in 0.125-inch increments to fit a variety of couplers. To be as universal as possible, it’ll fit couplers between 0.5 and 3.375 inches.

On our little trailer’s coupler, the pin sticks out quite a bit. Initially, this was a bit of concern, as I didn’t want it to hit anything (including my leg as I walked by). But after doing some measurements, it was clear it wasn’t going to. You may want to be cautious when using it, however.

Like the Coupler Lock, it’s also weatherproof, has a plate-tumbler sidebar to prevent lockpicking, and uses your vehicle’s key to lock and unlock. MSRP on this is $32, and it also carries a limited lifetime warranty.

The BOLT Lock Pin Lock is simple and effective. The pin is very long, but the lock feels strong and high-quality. And yes, that’s another key we won’t have to carry.


(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

We all know what a padlock is. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. The BOLT Lock Pad Lock is a 2-inch version with chrome plating and a 0.3125-inch diameter. They can be used for just about anything from securing your fuel cans to locking up your trailer. We use it to secure our trailer using a steel cable with looped ends around a post on our carport.

The rubberized coating feels high-quality and has all the same features as the Pin Lock and Coupler Lock. Action on the lock feels secure and well-made. MSRP on this product is $22, and that’s another key off our keychain.

6-Foot Cable Lock

BOLT Cable Lock
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

This is a product I didn’t think we’d actually use but have found more practical than we expected. While we haven’t been using it with our trailer setup, it’s found a home atop our Mitsubishi Delica, and we use it to lock up our Maxtrax traction boards.

We run the cable through the handle and around the roof rack. The 6-foot length is actually perfect for this application. And yes, the lock has all the same features as the locks above. This standardization is really what sets BOLT Lock apart from many other locks. We have four locking devices and one key. MSRP on this product is $42.

Fewer Keys, More Locks

Trailer and Dinoot
(Photo/Andy Lilienthal)

Using this suite of products, we now carry one key for four locks. I easily had a couple of duplicate keys made for hardly any money, allowing us to have spares when traveling. The products are all of high quality, are easy to use, and have a great warranty.

Unfortunately, not every manufacturer’s key can be used. Check BOLT Lock’s site to see if your car is represented. There are a lot of makes and models available. Frankly, it wasn’t a surprise not to see a JDM Mitsubishi Pajero or Delica listed.

If you’re like us and want to cut down on the number of keys you’re carrying, BOLT Lock’s quality products are definitely worth a look.

The Off-Trailer Coupler Lock, Pin Lock, and Padlock would cost $129 if bought all together, and that’s chump change compared to having a trailer stolen. These are high-quality units that cut down on keys and give you peace of mind to boot.

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Andy Lilienthal

Andy Lilienthal is a life-long automotive enthusiast. He's written for several publications since the early 2000s and has worked in the automotive aftermarket for over a decade. His GearJunkie story titled “Registration Revoked: Delica Vans No Longer Road Legal” won the Best News Award in 2022 from The Motor Press Guild, the largest automotive journalism organization in the United States. He enjoys working on cars and trucks, has a thing for oddball 4WDs and small cars, and loves to travel and camp. Andy lives with his wife, Mercedes Lilienthal, in Portland, Oregon. Follow Andy’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram (@crankshaftculture) and Twitter (@crankshaftcult).