Hubcaps - Wheel Covers - Hub Caps
What are Hubcaps, Wheel Covers, and Hubcaps and what are there significance?
A Sweeping Look at Hubcaps and Wheel Covers
If you want the wheels of your car to be more protected and more attractive, then go look for some hubcaps. Hubcaps are decorative covers to car wheels. Hubcaps are also referred to as wheel covers; the two terms are used interchangeably. Although later, we will see that they can be used in differing manners.
Whether a particular hubcap covers the entire wheel or just part of it depends on the type of wheel under consideration. The hubcaps included in a wheel are made from alloys. They often cover just the center of the wheel; because of that, the hubcap is termed as a center cap. The hubcap included in a wheel made from stamped steel often covers the entire wheel.
Some Differences in Terminology
But are all hubcaps wheel covers? In the same way, are all wheel covers hubcaps? Some auto experts make a distinction between hubcaps and wheel covers. Hubcaps just cover the hub sections of wheels. The hubs are the parts of wheels where they attach to the hubs. That means that often, hubcaps cover only the center sections of wheels, not the entire wheels themselves. The center sections of wheels can range from 2-10 inches in diameter; the diameter depends on how small or large the wheels are.
When hubcaps were first made, their main purpose is to make you get the nuts of the wheels easily so that you can make the wheels stay in place. Hubcaps before are meant to attach firmly to the hub sections of wheels. There are some hubcaps that have extra plastic lugs meant to fit into the wheels’ bolts by means of threads. However, the threads are made of plastic, and once the plastic gets worn out, the hubcaps will fall off in the middle of high-speed trips. Newer models of hubcaps fall off less often because circular wires are involved to keep the hubcaps attached to the wheel more strongly.
What about wheel covers then? They cover entire wheels, instead of just the middle portions of wheels. There is a good reason for that. As mentioned, wheel covers are used to cover steel wheels; the reason is that steel wheels don’t look attractive at all. Hubcaps aren’t enough to mask the unattractiveness of these wheels, so covers for whole wheels are valuable. Think about this: you can use these wheel covers to increase the attractiveness of your car, thus increasing its value dramatically if you decide to sell the car.
Different wheel covers differ in functions, though. The simplest wheel covers are made from plastic, which intend to cover your wheels only. They do not add aesthetic value but they can mask undesirable aesthetic qualities of the wheels. Some wheel covers, however, are designed to be decorative. All of these wheel covers, though, provide additional protection to your wheels from harsh elements of the environment. They protect your wheels from rain, from snow, and from rusting.
So, the next time you hear the terms “hubcaps” and “wheel covers,” you now know what each one of them means in a more precise manner. You can check out the types of wheels that you have and then select which type of wheel covering (hubcap or wheel cover) is appropriate. For the most part, however, their benefits and their maintenance are similar, as are the places where to buy them.
The Histories of Hubcaps and Wheel Covers
Hubcaps and wheel covers have their own respective histories. While this stuff may look impressive mainly to automobile enthusiasts, some history may help us know their significance in our lives and possibly give us insights on how they really work.
At first, hubcaps aren’t mainly used for aesthetic purposes; they do have definite functions. Remember that the spokes of the first automobiles were made of wood. These spokes served as the connections from the center hubs of the wheels to their outer rims. The hubs, which contained grease, need a cover so that the grease won’t spill out and at the same time, protect the hubs from dust. Thus covers for hubs were born, aptly named “hub caps” and later on “hubcaps”. Because wooden spokes age and creak when moving on the road, they got replaced by newer types of wheels.
During the 1920s and the 1930s, wooden spokes were gone and spokes made from steel wires began to dominate the wheel industry. The designs of the new steel-wire spoke wheels copied the designs of the older wooden spokes, so hubcaps still fit in those steel-wire spoke wheels. The steel wires were left exposed. While the hubcaps still served their functions, newer uses for them arose. Hubcaps became stamped with the names of car manufacturers. Now, with new steel-wire spokes, there arose a problem that hubcaps can’t solve: not only are the spokes difficult to clean. But they also emitted a disquieting, windy noise when many cars move on the street at high speeds.
Then Cadillac came to be launched. Cadillac wheels portray some ingenuity: they included discs which hubcaps held in place with screws. The discs’ sizes were enough to cover wheels’ entirety. The wire-spokes can’t be seen anymore. Actually, the spokes made the wheels look more streamlined and stylish. Additionally, the whirring noise caused by wheels diminished significantly. The discs were effective enough in blocking blocked the sound. In the year 1938, Cadillac began manufacturing pressed wheels made of steel. These wheels are nearly the same as the wheels used in cars today. The wheels didn’t include the discs anymore. Instead, they came with enlarged hubcaps that covered the whole wheels, which we can aptly call “wheel covers”.
In time, wheel covers exceeded hubcaps as the primary covering for the wheels of cars. The big wheels that Cadillac made were symbols of automobile luxury. Perhaps you have seen the wheel cover shaped like a hat and plated with brilliant chrome. It was known as the “Sombrero”. It is regarded as the most classic type of wheel cover. During the 1930s-1950s, the wheel covers of Cadillac were very much in demand; they would even easily get stolen. Many Cadillac owners back then would not be surprised to see the covers of their cars gone due to the prevalence of such incidents.
Now, let’s return to hubcaps. If your car contains no hubcaps, guess what other people will refer to you as? Probably, you will be known as a "drag racer.” Hubcaps were problematic in drag racing,. especially in the 1960s when the activity was prevalent. This is because of the fact that they always flew away once the cars began running at high speeds. These hubcaps would hit some of the onlookers around and possibly pose a safety hazard to other drag racers. So, it became normal for drag racers to remove the hubcaps off their wheels, even if they are not drag racing. At that time, painting wheels and placing chrome center caps on the wheels became common for drag racers, too. Many car buffs believe that this led to the making, and subsequently, to the popularity of wheels made from chrome.
When 1970s came, hubcaps were being made from plastics instead of metals. These hubcaps are less likely to fall off (although some hubcaps fall off more often from others, so it pays to choose well). During the 1980s, wheel covers were also being made from plastic. Plastic began to be used widely in the making of hubcaps and wheel covers because of its lightness and sturdiness. There are also objects, called retention rings, that enable the hubcaps and wheel covers to remain attached to their wheels for a long time.
So, the next time you look at a hubcap or wheel cover, you must remember the wonderful history behind it. That will not only make you appreciate hubcaps or cover wheels more; it will also help you make better choices when you buy them.
Various Uses of Hubcaps and Wheel Covers
History has shown us that people used to take their hubcaps and wheel covers seriously. Today, people may think of them just as minor attachments that do not deserve much attention. So what they do is that they just pick hubcaps or wheel covers whose brands are the same as those of their car brands. That is a solid idea, but you may be missing out many other uses of hubcaps and wheel covers if you do that.
Hubcaps and wheel covers still serve some of their original functions – one of which is providing the wheels with protection from harsh environmental conditions. Surely, you wouldn’t want to see your wheels covered with dust, especially when you often drive on dirty roads, would you? Also, you wouldn’t want to see your wheels get soaked up often in rain, would you? Weather protection of the wheels also leads to protection from rusting. Moreover, wheels are quite difficult to clean. With hubcaps and wheel covers protecting the wheels, you will expect much less mess. Just remove them from the wheels and then clean them with soap and water. Instead of removing the entire wheels, cleaning the wheels, and putting the wheels back, you have an easier alternative. We will discuss the more detailed process of cleaning later.
Hubcaps and wheel covers can also save drivers in another significant way. Remember that wheel lugs keep them attached to the car. When these wheel lugs fall off, it will only be a matter of time before the corresponding wheel falls off which will possibly lead to accidents. With hubcaps or wheel covers, any driver will know when the lugs will fall off, because the lugs will make a jingling sound. That makes it easier for the driver to put the lugs back into place before any accident happens.
Hubcaps and wheel covers are also useful for people who want to increase the value of their cars. These coverings for wheels make a big difference for one good reason. Many people don’t use them in their car wheels! Thus, once your car has hubcaps or wheel covers in its wheels, it will immediately be perceived as desirable because it’s uncommon for wheels to have coverings. Your car will have more admirers than it had before. Moreover, you can use the presence of hubcaps and wheel covers as leverage when negotiating your car price. You can highlight how these wheel coverings not only protect the wheels but also make your car look good. If you intend to sell your car, make sure that all four of your car wheels are covered.
Even if your car is old or doesn’t look that good, anything decorative that covers the wheels will prevent your car from getting a bad evaluation from onlookers. When you have an old car that you use often, you may not express a desire to sell it. But more often than not, you should surely do something to save it from criticism. Hubcaps and wheel covers will render onlookers impressed and speechless.
Another benefit that these hubcaps and wheel covers give is that they improve your car’s aerodynamics by lessening friction. Thus, your car becomes more fuel-efficient. In the long run, you may actually save a significant amount from fuel savings.
So, if you think that hubcaps and wheel covers are mere add-ons to a car, you may be missing out on how they add a significant value to your car. That value can be in the form of protection, easier car maintenance, or even money in case you want to sell your car. Now that you know the different uses of hubcaps and wheel covers, you should now proceed to looking for the right hubcaps and wheel covers.
Tips on Choosing Hubcaps and Wheel Covers
When choosing hubcaps and wheel covers, first ask yourself what you’ll use them for. If you want to use them solely for protection and maintenance, you can choose not to be frisky by buying affordable hubcaps or wheel covers. While they may not make your car look so stylish to onlookers, at least your car’s wheels will be well-protected. It is possible to buy affordable hubcaps or wheel covers for as low as $20.
However, when buying affordable coverings for wheels, remember that you always get what you pay for. These affordable covers may easily get worn out and you may have to replace them every after few months even if their uses for your car are limited to protection and easier maintenance. An alternative is to buy some not-so-stylish but heavy-duty covers for your wheels. They may cost more than affordable hubcaps or wheel covers (but far less than the stylish ones meant for decoration) but they’ll last longer, so you won’t have to replace them for a long time.
When purchasing hubcaps and wheel covers, you should take into account the sizes of your car wheels. Consult your car manual to find out the sizes of your wheels. You may also have to measure the wheel sizes yourself. Or you can try out different sizes of wheel coverings first to find out the best fit.
Also, determine if you can easily install the hubcaps or wheel covers that you buy. Incorrect installation can lead to the detachment of these wheel coverings. You can also find out if you can easily get installation help from someone else. The problem with professional installation, however, is that it can be expensive. So, you’re lucky if you have a friend who knows how to install hubcaps or wheel covers. It also pays to ask if installation is part of your purchase. That can swing a borderline decision to buy into an affirmative one. Once you have successfully installed the wheel coverings, your car will look more stylish and your car’s wheels will be more protected. Removing and putting on wheel coverings will be discussed later in-depth.
Now, where can you buy high-quality hubcaps and wheel covers? Just go to your nearest car parts store and look for them while keeping in mind the different tips on this section. You can also check them out from stores in the Internet. Generally, it is better to buy from Internet stores if you are not sure about the credibility of your local dealer. When buying from an online store, you will get honest answers to your questions and you won’t be rushed because it’s so easy to skip to another online store. If you want to buy from a local dealer, though, ask plenty of questions first and don’t rush when making decisions.
We now know that cheap hubcaps and wheel covers break down more easily than more expensive ones, but still you may not have the necessary budget. How can you get around that? Fortunately, you can buy used hubcaps or used wheel covers instead. Where to find them and how to choose them well is the next topic.
Buying Used Hubcaps and Used Wheel Covers
SIMPLY CHOOSE YOUR MAKE TO BEGIN
SIMPLY CHOOSE YOUR MAKE TO BEGIN
Used hubcaps and wheel covers are there for buyers who want to save money. The standards that you apply for them are the same standards that you would apply on buying brand-new coverings for wheels. However, you have to ensure that the sellers of used wheel coverings are trustworthy. Of course, you’d rather shell out money to buy a new covering that works rather than an old one that just fails to work well, right?
Before buying used hubcaps and wheel covers, make sure to look at your purchase carefully first. Be on the lookout for dents. If a wheel covering that you are about to buy is dented, you should suspect that it has fallen off a car many times already. Would you want a wheel to have that type of wheel covering? Even if the wheel covering is functioning well, dents can reduce the value of your car, especially today when buyers are super-sensitive to a car’s defects and would do anything to lower the price that they want to pay.
Also, check out for any blemishes and cracks. They won’t be aesthetically pleasing. Note now – if you want wheel coverings that’s pleasing to look at, don’t buy used ones. Just purchase new ones even if they’re pricier. You should also not buy a wheel covering that’s bent. It may fall off a wheel quickly and it will make your car look ugly, at least in the eyes of sensitive critics. You can choose to accept any wheel coverings – with defects and all – as long as you’re aware of the defects and their potential consequences and as long as you are paying just the right prices for them.
Just be careful regarding used hubcaps and wheel covers. If you buy the wrong ones, you may end up spending money for replacements which you should have bought in the first place. Also, using damaged wheel coverings are bad for your tires. Even if the coverings remain attached, you aren’t sure if they are doing their jobs well. One crucial example is the falling off of wheel lugs. When wheel lugs fall off, you would want the wheel coverings to be there so that you’ll hear the lugs falling off. But when the wheel coverings are gone because they are of poor quality, when lugs fall off, you’ll just keep running until the tire gets detached from your car, and that can possibly lead to accidents.
The rule of thumb that you should remember is that you shouldn’t buy used hubcaps and wheel covers if you can afford brand new alternatives. Some stores even sell brand new wheel coverings for lower prices than the prices of some scheming vendors for used wheel coverings. Now, it’s hard to check out many different brick and mortar auto parts stores, but it is easy to check out online stores one by one. Go with online dealers that offer high-quality wheel coverings for reasonable prices which may be lower than the prices of used coverings.
Here is a final note, though: If you want to look on auction sites, remember that from the pictures of wheel coverings that you may be seeing there, you may not know whether they are used or not. If it isn’t stated in the description whether a particular covering for a wheel is used or not, then you should ask the seller for more information. A seller that doesn’t give out the information you deserve to know isn’t worth trusting. Also, watch out for suspiciously low prices of wheel coverings – they may be used already, whether they look like they’re used already or not.
Changing Hubcaps and Wheel Covers
Occasionally you may have to change the hubcaps or wheel covers found in the wheels of your car. Before doing that, make sure that you have replacements ready. Reasons to change them include wearing off, hard-to-remove stains, and damage upon impact. So here are the steps for changing hubcaps and wheel covers. Changing hubcaps and changing wheel covers is different, so we will treat them separately here.
(a) If the hubcap that you want to change contains a screw, then find that screw. If you can’t readily find the screw, check if the screw is below a piece of plastic on the hubcap. Lift the small cover carefully. Once you see the screw, unscrew it; be careful not to lose the screw. Then remove the hubcap and then place the replacement hubcap to your wheel. Then put the screw back, but make sure not to tighten the screw too much so that you won’t have any problems with unscrewing it again when you need to.
(b) If the hubcap that you want to change contains lug nuts, then you need to do something else. Loosen the lug nuts first; use a crowbar for this. With very tight lug nuts, that can be painstaking, but once the nuts are loosened, you can pull them off by hand. Make sure that you do not lose the nuts. Then remove the hubcap, and then place the replacement hubcap. Place the nuts back into the bolts; use your hand to tighten them first. To ensure further tightening, use a crowbar.
(c) (c) If the hubcap that you want to change doesn’t contain screws or lug nuts at all, then the steps are simple. First, use a screwdriver to loosen the rim of the hubcap. Then detach the hubcap and replace it with a new one. To ensure that the hubcap becomes secure in its place, tap the hubcap’s rim around. To make sure that the hubcap stays, use a mallet to pound the hubcap around its rim.
Here is an extra note, though: Make sure that your replacement hubcaps are of the same size as the hubcaps to be replaced. The replacements should be installed in the same way as the removed hubcaps were installed. For instance, if your hubcap contains screws, then the replacement hubcap should have the same size as the old one and should also be installed by screwing. If your usual hubcap contains lug nuts, then its replacement should also contain lug nuts. You wouldn’t want to waste money buying the wrong type of hubcap.
Carefully place a screwdriver with a flat head under the wheel cover. To make the wheel cover loose, push the screwdriver. Then loosen the other areas in the wheel cover. Take care not to apply too much force when removing wheel covers because the metal can get bent or the plastic can break. Once the wheel cover starts falling off, take it and then attach the new wheel cover.
Remember that some hubcaps and wheel covers come with instructions for installation. In that case, you may want to check out the instructions there (or look at the illustrations) to ensure that your installation is correct. The ease of installation is a factor that many car owners consider when purchasing hubcaps or wheel covers; if that is one factor you consider too, then check whether the instructions for installation are easy or hard to understand before buying.
Now that you know how to install hubcaps and wheel covers, you don’t have to get someone’s professional help in doing so. You can save money if you do that. Additionally, you can be more confident about your car maintenance habits.
Cleaning Hubcaps and Wheel Covers
Once you have attached hubcaps or wheel covers to your car wheels already and you have driven your car with them in place, time and time again they will get dirty. Wheel coverings of any sort can sometimes get wet, accumulate dust or grime, or get muddy. If your wheel coverings are shiny, perhaps made of chrome, and they get dirty, you may think that they’re ruined already and you’re off with a plan to buy new ones. But before you throw away money just yet, you have to find a way to clean your wheel coverings so that they’ll look lustrous again.
Why is there a need to regularly clean your hubcaps and wheel covers? If you have them in your car wheels for decorative purposes, then when they get dirty, they will drastically reduce the value of your car. People who are used to seeing them clean will balk when they see them dirty. Moreover, even if you don’t feel the need to clean them, keeping them clean is an indication of your caring for your car. Your car also reflects your personality, especially if you always go to work with it. (And the higher your rank in work is, the more sensitive you should be to any dirt in your car.)
To clean hubcaps and wheel covers, elbow grease is the thing to use. The amount that you will apply depends on how dirty your wheel coverings are. The dirtier they are, the more elbow grease that you have to apply. Just wipe the coverings with the grease and they will sparkle again and look attractive.
Often, grease is not enough when there are grass, twigs, mud, and other debris on your wheel coverings. In that case you need to clean them manually. Just use a power hose to remove the debris from the wheel coverings. Any hardened mud can be wiped off with soap and water (do not use a hard brush because it may scratch the wheel coverings and thus make them less attractive). Now, if your hubcaps or wheel covers are made from chrome, you should look for wheel cleaning products specifically geared for these types of materials. Although they are wheel cleaners, they work well with wheel coverings too.
There is a way to clean hubcaps or wheel covers without detaching them from the wheels, though. Prepare soap solution or get your commercial wheel cleaner. Wipe the prepared cleaning solution into the hubcaps and wheel covers. Use a brush with soft bristles so that you can remove all grime that has gathered. After that, use water from the hose to remove the cleaning solution. Then use a towel for drying the hubcaps and wheel covers. If you want to add wax, use a microfiber cloth to do so.
Perhaps you haven’t bought hubcaps or wheel covers yet and when you decide to buy them you want those that make any dirt sticking less obvious. Of course, chrome isn’t a good choice because they easily get stained. A good choice would be black wheel coverings. Because they’re black, many people won’t easily notice dirt that stick to them. That is a good enough reason for less frequent cleaning. However, they still get muddy or debris can still get caught in them, so cleaning is occasionally necessary.
A Final Word
Hub Caps and wheel covers have exciting histories along with numerous benefits. Thus anyone who loves cars can consider them as reasonable additions to car wheels. We have also discussed some tips on how you can buy them as well as certain maintenance issues, such as cleaning and replacing. Finally, for sellers of hubcaps and wheel covers, we dealt with marketing issues. So right now, think about your car wheels, and be thankful that there is a way for you to make them look cool – and to make your car look cool too. Just purchase some hubcaps or wheel covers and the way you will view your car - as well as others’ views – will change dramatically.
Follow the lead of many people all over the world who have taken hubcaps and wheel covers seriously. Now it is time for you to treat your wheel coverings with more respect; if you still don’t have them yet, you can buy them. Also, take the time to educate other people regarding their importance.
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