Guide to buying hubcaps
The hubcaps are one of those accessories to our vehicle that are not essential, but it is true that they help the car to look better. They are also a good way to give a different or renewed touch to our vehicle without spending too much money. In any of these cases, our guide to buying the best hubcaps will come in handy, with tips to make the most of your purchase and make your car look its best.
One of the advantages that hubcaps have, compared to other parts such as tires, is that choosing the specific model is quite simple. In fact, with a few exceptions, almost all hubcaps are universal regarding the size of the rim for which they are designed.
This is something easy to see in any comparison of hubcaps, in which we will see how they are grouped precisely by that rim or tire diameter, which is obviously the same. Anyway, the options to confuse us are scarce, since there are only four measures on the market: from 13 to 16 inches diagonally.
Even so, before seeing how much the hubcap costs, how beautiful it is or how it is assembled, it is key that you verify that this product has the measurement corresponding to your vehicle. Something that we must do directly on the tire, since sometimes the technical sheet contains several measurements, and some of them may be different from the one actually mounted on the car.
Original, replica, universal
When we look for a hubcap, or a set of hubcaps, one of the questions we usually ask ourselves is whether to use an original manufacturer’s product or one that is not. It is true that the original hubcap is usually designed specifically for our vehicle but it is also true that the difference in how much one of them costs compared to a universal one is considerable.
In the middle of both worlds there are the hubcaps that we call replica. In this case, they are not original brand products but they are made in their image, so they are more or less similar to those originals. The main advantage is that they have a cheaper price and do not break the aesthetics of the vehicle too much.
As a third option we have the universals. In this case they are hubcaps that are valid for any vehicle. The originals or brand also work, the truth, although it is rare to see a Ford logo on a Peugeot, for example. Anyway, the universal ones are valid for any car and allow to change the image, going from the classic and traditional models to those that imitate the most sporty and modern wheels. It’s all a matter of what you prefer for your car.
We cannot forget about the process of assembling the hubcaps, since there is a difference between the two main ones. The best known is the one with plastic eyelashes and metal ring. A system that does not evolve despite being somewhat complicated to assemble and not being the most resistant, since any bump can make your hubcap fly. For this reason, it is convenient to verify that it offers a good grip to avoid having this problem.
Something that can also be solved with the other existing hubcap system. Specifically, we are talking about the products that are fastened by the tire nuts. This system has the disadvantage of having to remove the wheels to fit them, but in return you will never lose them and they will not be stolen either. Anyway, if you opt for this system, do not forget to check that the product has the necessary holes for mounting, as many as the wheel studs have, four normally.
We have left for the end what has to do with the appearance of the hubcap, as it is more aesthetic than anything else. But that is not why it is something that we should put aside.
The good news is that since we’ve already dropped, we have a bit of everything. So if you want a model with a more classic finish, a simple design and some shades in aluminum or silver, you will be able to find it. And if you prefer something modern, even with sporty touches, with more interesting colors and a more modern look, too. It is true that these latest models are not as lavish as the more traditional ones, but they are increasingly easier to find.
In any case, while you review this aspect, do not forget to also check that the product has good resistance, so that its good image lasts longer. But rubbing against the curb is always going to be a problem.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to clean hubcaps?
The cleaning process of the hubcaps is not particularly complicated, being able to use the water jet of any gas station gun on them, clean them with a hose or directly with a sponge or conventional cloth. A process for which we can use any product that is not aggressive, as it happens with the rest of the vehicle, really. Anyway, in the market you can also find specific products, such as foams and the like, specially designed for the materials of the hubcaps.
Q2: Can I pass the ITV without hubcaps?
The hubcaps are an aesthetic element that does not affect the stability or safety of the vehicle , so there is no problem in passing inspection if they are not installed on the vehicle or are not original. The only case they can tell us anything is if the hubcaps are loose or may come off as a driving hazard. But it would only be a warning and should not have any further influence on the inspection process.
Q3: How to change hubcaps for rims?
In fact, all cars have wheels and some have hubcaps too. So truly the process would not be to replace hubcaps with rims, but rather to change the iron rims of the vehicle, on which the hubcaps are mounted, for alloy wheels, aluminum or the material that we like the most. Something for which we will need to know the tire measurements and their equivalences, as well as what the technical sheet indicates in this regard, proceeding then to buy the corresponding tires and discarding the iron wheels. With all these elements, it would be enough to mount the tires on the new rims and mount them on the car
Q4: How to secure hubcaps so they don’t fall off?
One of the main problems with hubcaps is that their fastening system is quite unfortunate, so we have many ballots for them to fly on the road in case of catching a pothole with bad shade. We can do everything we want to place it, if it has to jump, it will jump. A solution is to use flanges, which would link the hubcap and the rim, preventing their “freedom”. Another solution is to apply an adhesive, such as silicone, that holds the hubcap in place. Anyway, don’t forget that sooner or later you will have to remove the hubcap, so be careful what you use for that fixation .
Q5: Are there hubcaps that won’t fall off with the bumps?
To have them there are them, although the difficult thing is to find them. Specifically, we are talking about the hubcaps that are fixed directly with the rim hardware, with the corresponding holes in the central part of it. This has the advantage that, unless they are broken, it is impossible for the hubcaps to fall off or be removed. The drawback is that if we want to change them we will have to remove all the wheel hardware.
Q6: Where to buy original hubcaps?
Finding original hubcaps is a complicated process. The fact that it is a relatively cheap part and that, nowadays, it begins to be in disuse due to the rise in tires, means that they are not parts that we can find in a scrapyard. It is also not entirely easy to find these hubcaps at our dealer and, if they have them, you will have to prepare the wallet as they are usually quite expensive. As a last option we can resort to the network, where it is possible to find a loose game that is original.
Q7: Are the hubcaps universal?
The hubcaps are universal, as long as they have the same inches as the tire on which we are mounting the part. In other words, 15-inch hubcaps can be installed on any 15-inch tire and rim, regardless of the make of the vehicle or any other detail, with few exceptions.
Q8: Can I spray paint hubcaps?
The hubcaps, as a plastic material, can be spray painted without problems. However, it is necessary to perform some preliminary tasks in order to guarantee a proper result. Specifically, we should start by cleaning and sanding the entire surface, to make it easier for the paint to stick and also to eliminate scratches, bumps and other damage to the surface. Depending on the amount of paint that the material absorbs, two coats of spray may be necessary, and even one coat of lacquer to fix the result.
How to use a hubcap
Although it may seem like one of these elements of our car that we do not give importance to, the hubcap is an element that deserves our attention , at least during the assembly process. So if you want to know what is necessary to circulate without risks with this model we leave you some interesting tips in this regard.
Choose the correct position for the valve
Before proceeding to mount the hubcap, it is necessary to choose the correct position. All hubcaps usually have a kind of semicircular notch on the outside of the part, designed to coincide with the valve area. The location of the notch must always be respected, since if we do not do it we may not be able to access the valve or, even worse, we can damage it.
Fitting a conventional hubcap
When we assemble a conventional hubcap it is necessary that the different elements are correctly positioned. This involves keeping the inner metal ring in place as well as positioning the tabs within the circle that the rim forms. It is important that we resist the urge to hit the different mounting tabs to fix them, since we have many ballots of ending up breaking something. What we must do is gradually insert the tabs, using a screwdriver to locate the ones that require it when the tension begins to make the process difficult.
As you will see during assembly, the fastening is made by means of tabs that go inside the rim. This has the disadvantage that they can come loose with potholes or other imperfections in the road. So there are not a few users who opt for additional fixings so as not to lose their hubcaps along the way. Among these solutions we have the use of flanges, with which to fasten the hubcap to the rim efficiently, or the use of an adhesive to fix it in place. IF you finally decide to resort to any of these solutions, it is important that you remember that the hubcap must be removable, so a permanent fixation is not possible.
Mounting of a hubcap to screws
We have called them bolt-on hubcaps, although we can also call them anti-theft hubcaps. Specifically, we are talking about the models that are installed on the rim hardware, which obviously prevents theft or accidental detachment of the hubcap. In this case, the assembly process is complicated, since to proceed we will have to remove the nuts that hold the tire to the corresponding studs.
Next, we must put the hubcap without forgetting what we have already mentioned for the valve. The next step is to tighten everything again, maintaining the proper pressure so that the wheel does not move. As a final step, we will have to place the trim that covers the part of the hardware, in case the hubcap includes it.