Hubcaps vs Rims: Guide on the Differences, Pros and Cons

The hubcaps vs rims debate is one that you will often hear when you’re in the market for new wheels for your car. Whether you want to modify your wheels or replace them, you would have to understand the difference between the rims and hubcaps.

Hubcaps vs Rims

Both rims and hubcaps are parts of a wheel, but that is their only similarity, as they come with a wide range of differences. In this complete guide, we will look at the difference between hubcaps and rims, their benefits and downsides, and which one is important for your wheels.

Features Hubcaps  Rims 
Location On top of the hub Center of the wheel
Material Plastic, metal Steel, aluminum, magnesium 
Function Decorative Structural integrity
Weight  Light  Heavy
Removal Easy and at any time Requires removing the whole wheel


What Is the Main Difference Between Hubcaps and Rims?

The main difference between hubcaps and rims is what they are used for, as hubcaps are caps that cover the wheel hub and are usually for decoration and protection, while rims are the metal portion of a wheel that holds the tire.

No wheel can function without its center, which is the rim, but it can do without a hubcap. The rim is placed to hold the tire and keep it rolling on the wheel, while the hubcap is there to prevent the buildup of dirt and protect the bearing of the wheel, especially on heavy-duty trucks.

Most times, people place a hubcap on their wheel for show. There are three main differences between hubcaps and rims that you should keep in mind.

– Purpose

The purpose of the two pieces is the main reason why they are different. The rim combines with the tire to create an entire wheel and does not need any other component. The function of the rim is to give structural integrity to the wheel, giving the driver plenty of grips. It is screwed into the tire and mostly stays in place.


Hubcaps are wheel covers that look similar to the outside of the tire and are usually placed on steel wheels. The purpose of a hubcap is to protect the wheel from dirt, but it is not compulsory or required. Even without hubcaps, your wheels will function properly. The wheel covers also function as decorative pieces as drivers think exposed steel wheels can degrade their vehicle’s appearance.

– Material

Another difference between hubcaps and rims is the material they are made of. Since hubcaps are mostly for decoration on your car, you will notice that they are made from cheap material. This can be a plastic or lightweight metal that you can easily carry around, detach from the wheel, and install.

On the other hand, rims are made from different kinds of sturdy, durable, and in the case of larger vehicles, heavy-duty metals. You can find rims made of aluminium, magnesium and steel, and it is usually coated with a chrome finish or other colors.

– Weight

The weight of the two pieces is another difference between them. Since hubcaps are mostly made from plastic, they are very lightweight, which makes it easy to carry them around and install them on the hub of the wheel. They weigh about a pound.

Rims are much heavier since they support the entire tire and distribute the weight of the vehicle. They can weigh between 10 and 25 pounds, as this differs based on the material and the size of the wheel. It would take more strength to carry and transport a rim.

– Overall Comparison

Rims are better when comparing hubcaps vs rims. This is because rims are a necessary part of the wheel, while hubcaps are optional. If you’re getting a replacement for your wheel, you shouldn’t forget the rim, and you can decide if you want to add hubcaps to your purchase.

When looking at their appearance, rims always look good, especially those that are made of aluminum with a chrome finish. While hubcaps have a good appearance too, there is a clear difference between the look of hubcaps and rims.

Both parts are also very different when it comes to their price. You can buy a new set of hubcaps for less than $50, but if you buy used aluminum rims, you will spend $200 or more. You will need much more money if you want to buy new rims.

Is it possible to put hubcaps over the rims of your car? Yes, it is possible to put hubcaps over rims. You can put hubcaps of any shape or design over your rims as long as it matches the bolt pattern and wheel size. When purchasing hubcaps, you can show the parts dealer your wheel design.

Benefits and Uses of Hubcaps

A hubcap is a metal or plastic cap that is used as a wheel cover. It can be functional or decorative and is mostly easy to install. Most car owners purchase hubcaps to act as a protective cover for lug nuts. These are bolts that connect the wheel to the vehicle while you drive.

Lug nuts are open to different kinds of moisture, dirt and debris since they are underneath the car. Driving through puddles or when it’s raining is common, and this means that lug nuts are always exposed to moisture. This causes them to rust, and when its time to replace the tire, they would be difficult to remove.


If you have a wheel cover, it prevents the lug nuts from rusting by keeping moisture and dirt out. This is why they are usually installed on heavy-duty cars and trucks. Aside from protection, hubcaps add style to your car, which is why they come in different designs, colors and sizes. Car owners simply purchase the one that matches their car.

Elements and Aspects of Hubcaps

Hubcaps can be installed on the wheel in different ways and can even be customized and personalized. They are mostly made to be removable, so if they become damaged, you can attach another one. Car owners install hubcaps in different ways, like snapping them onto the wheel, connecting them with clips, or using bolts to attach them.

– Pros

The main advantage of using hubcaps is their low price. It is pretty affordable to buy a 4-pack of hubcaps, with some even costing $25. Check your local auto parts store for hubcaps. They are also easy to remove and attach. This means that they can fall off when driving on rough terrain, but since it doesn’t cost much to replace them, you don’t have to worry.

Another advantage is that you can remove hubcaps by yourself. If you want to check your tire, simply pop it off, inspect it, and attach it back. This isn’t possible with rims, and you might even have to remove the entire wheel to check them.

– Cons

Hubcaps look cheap, as they are cheap, and this is one reason why drivers usually avoid buying them. Since your wheels are an important part of your car’s aesthetics, you can avoid making it look cheap by purchasing stylish hubcaps. At the end of the day, it depends on your style and preferences.

Another con that we must mention is that hubcaps can fall off while driving if they were not installed properly or if you bought a poorly-designed model. Some hubcaps can be flawed at the clips or cap, so it would come off when you’re driving. It’s best to purchase more durable options and install them properly.

Benefits and Uses of Rims

A rim is the metal portion at the center of the wheel that holds the tire in place. Rims are placed in the middle of the wheel to give it structural support, and without them, the wheel can’t function because the tire will go flat. Rims also determine the shape of the tire.

Rims should not be confused with wheels, as it is only a part of the wheel. The wheel consists of the rim, tire, and bolts keeping them together. Rims are usually made with the hot forging process in which the metal, like steel, magnesium or aluminum, is melted and forged into a particular shape. Some manufacturers cast rims instead.

Properties and Hallmark of Rims

Rims come in different sizes, widths and shapes, depending on the features of your tire and the size of your car. The designs you can buy are solid, spoke and multi-spoke rims. Solid rims are designed with no openings in them. Spoke rims usually have equal and thin spokes from the center of the wheel, while multi-spoke rims have wider openings that are not well-spaced out.

It might be confusing to choose one from the different kinds of rims, but you should simply consider which one looks best for your vehicle and the type of car you have. Solid rims are mostly installed in luxury cars, while spoke rims are mostly seen in sports cars.

– Pros

The main advantage of rims is that they are very important. You can’t do without them, and your cars will only run when you have them. Also, they don’t usually require hubcaps, especially if it’s a new rim that looks sleek.

Rims, especially aluminum rims, give your car an expensive look. They offer a more valuable look to your car than a hubcap would do, so you should keep that in mind. Another benefit is that cars usually come with rims, so you won’t have to purchase a new one until it becomes worn out, unlike a hubcap. They can last up to five years on average.

– Cons

One downside of rims is their price. While cars always come with rims on the wheel, you might have to purchase a new one after five years. They cost up to $1,000, depending on the type of car you’re driving, the size of the tires, and the material.

Also, if you want to check or maintain your rim, you might have to remove the entire thing, leaving your car stranded. You can only drive when your rims are installed.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Rims on a 2 Axle Vehicle Instead of Hubcaps?

Using rims on a 2 axle vehicle instead of hubcaps has its pros and cons. Rims offer a sleek and stylish appearance, enhancing the overall look of the vehicle. They also allow for better tire grip, enabling improved handling and cornering. However, rims are generally more expensive and require additional maintenance. It’s important to consider your preferences and budget when deciding between rims and hubcaps for your all about 2 axle vehicles.


With our complete guide, you now know the difference between hubcaps and rims and the parts they play in your car.

Here’s what you should remember about hubcaps vs rims:

  • Hubcaps are metal or plastic caps that cover the hub of a wheel and are used to protect lug nuts from moisture or for decorative purposes.
  • Hubcaps are cheap to buy, attach and remove, but they are only optional on a car.
  • Rims are the metal center of a wheel that holds it in place and gives the tire shape and is needed to maintain its structural integrity.
  • Rims are expensive to purchase but come with newly bought cars, and your car cannot do without them.

The next time you go to your dealer to replace your wheel, you can easily decide whether you want hubcaps or not, but you definitely have to get the rims.

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