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What are Wheel Covers?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 23, 2024
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Wheel covers, also known as hubcaps, make stock wheels look like custom wheels at a fraction of the price. While a set of wheels can easily run US$500-$2000 and more, a set of wheel covers can cost as little as $50-$200, and you can install them yourself in minutes.

Nothing improves the look of a car more than a nice set of wheels. Unfortunately, getting new wheels usually involves getting new tires too, or at least taking the old tires off the old wheels and putting them on the new wheels. Balancing and alignment follows and before you know it, the cost of the wheels was just the beginning of the investment.

For those who want to drastically improve the look of their ride without investing a lot of money, wheel covers are a great alternative. They come in a variety of sizes and styles and are customer-installed by simply press-fitting them into the rim of the existing wheel. No balancing is needed, no alignment, and you won't be tempted to get new tires at the same time. Wheel covers can go from package to rim in less than a minute each and have you driving in style with plenty of weight left in your wallet.

While most new cars come with chrome or aluminum wheels, some economy cars save customers on the sticker price by featuring stock unfinished metal wheels and hubcaps, or wheel covers. At a glance, good wheel covers will pass for custom wheels, and because they are inexpensive they can be changed on a whim or when the shine has worn off the old wheel covers. Wheel covers are also great for fixing up older cars with stock wheels.

Wheel covers come in styles manufactured to look like popular custom wheels: chrome spoked, five-starred, scooped and bladed are just a few examples of the available designs. The quality of wheel covers has improved significantly since the nineties, with many featuring chrome lugs and rings that add to their authentic look.

Wheel covers must be purchased to match the wheel size, commonly 15-inch or 16-inch, though other sizes are available. Pay particular attention to the retention system used. Some experts say a steel spring or ABS clip and retention ring are two of the better choices. A good retention system will save you money in the long run, as you won't risk your wheel covers rolling off down the road.

Wheel covers are available online and at automotive shops everywhere. They are a sure-fire way to add some class to your hot rod, truck, van, sedan or luxury ride, and you won't go broke doing it.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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