Up for review this month is the Console Vault by Unique Security Solutions, billed as the Ultimate High Security In-Vehicle Storage System. For those times when you need to secure your personal items in your vehicle, and stuffing them under the seat just doesn’t seem like the smartest idea in the world, the console vault may be just what you need. The Console Vault is advertised as a specially designed insert that fits into the console space of your truck or SUV while still allowing the console to close normally. The vault is constructed of 12 gauge steel and has a five point high security locking mechanism with a spring assisted lid. The manufacturer claims that the unit can be installed in under 10 minutes without any modification to the vehicle. Models are currently available for over 26 different trucks and SUVs.
In the past I have owned some of the other in car safe like containers. Most were built from rather flimsy metal and did not hold up well. One container in particular that comes with a long cable for securing the container into the car and can be purchased for about $29.95, was not very secure at all. I was able to pry it open in under five minutes with a large screwdriver. Still it is better than nothing.
My first impression of the Console Vault is that it is a solid bit of kit. It is rather hefty and does not feel cheap at all. Time to take a look and see if it holds up to scrutiny.
Rolling the vault over and getting an overall look, one of the first things that catches my eye is one of the mounting holes in the bottom was not punched all of the way out. You can see that the top right hole in the picture was not punched all of the way out. I was able to knock it the rest of the way out with a hammer and a punch.
Continuing to look the vault over I noticed that from the inside I could see daylight through some of the joints. Taking a better look at the welds on some of the joints that you can see in the picture on the right. I don't think that I would expect this thing to be watertight but I think some of these welds could have been better.
I measured the thickness of the steel at the side of the vault. At the point that I measured the steel is folded over on itself to form the edge. Therefore I should measure a thickness that is twice the normal value of 12 gauge steel. As you can see in the picture I measured a thickness of 0.184 inches and according to The Engineers Edge the thickness of 12 gauge sheet steel is 0.1046 and since this edge is doubled over it should measure 0.2092 inches. It looks like it is a little thinner than 12 gauge. 13 gauge sheet steel should be 0.0897 which is 0.1794 inches doubled over. I am not positive about the tolerances in measuring the thickness of sheet steel but it seems a lot closer to 13 gauge that 12 gauge steel. Now in reality is the difference between 12 and 13 gauge steel going to make much of a difference.
My curiosity was piqued by the description of the five point locking mechanism and the spring assisted lid, so taking a better look at the underside of the lid we have the picture on the right. I can make out the spring assisted hinge and in fact the lid does open rather smoothly. With small bumpers under the lip. the lid opens and closes without a metallic sound, a very nice touch. As far as a five point locking mechanism, unless they count every part of the hinge I have to wonder where they learned to count.
Enough looking at it, lets get it installed. The only thing in the box was the vault itself and a skimpy set of instructions. Most of the instructions were about how to change the combination. Since there were no screws in the box we should probably use the ones already in the vehicle and indeed there are four screws in the console of my truck that line up nicely with holes in the bottom of the vault. After taking the screws out I was a little disappointed to to see that the four screws are your typical automobile dashboard screws. I don't think that they would provide much in the way of holding force so I went a little further and took the console even further apart and found a few brackets underneath that are spot welded to the body and I used a longer carriage bolt to bolt the vault down to the bracket. This ended up taking me more than 10 minutes but I won't hold it against Ford or the console vault because I wanted to be a bit more secure with my install.
I put the console back together and secured the last few screws. The vault came with a piece of fabric to lay in the bottom of the vault to cushion your belongings. On the left is picture of the vault installed in my truck. Overall the fit into the vehicle is nice. There is plenty of room in this model. Enough to fit at least two 1911s and a GPS with room to spare. Although if you have a different model truck your console size may be different.
Overall I am impressed with the fit and functionality of the Console Vault. The finish quality left a bit to be desired and I still don't get the "five-point" locking mechanism but once it was installed it blends in nicely and usage on a daily basis is very nice with no complaints. It did take me longer than 10 minutes to install but again I went further than I needed to because I did not have confidence in the screws that were already in place. Most of the time you will find the Console Vault listed at about $250 online. At that price I was hesitant to buy it. However I found it at Costco's online store for less that $200 shipped during a sale. It is normally $250 at Costco but I have seen it on sale two different times now and Costco's sale items seem to repeat every quarter or so. There are a few quality issues that I may be overly picky about, but this appears to be one of the best ways to secure personal items in you vehicle with the possible exception of a steel box welded into your trunk. It is definitely better than most of the other options out there.