What Is Hubcaps and How Are They Different From Car Rims?

What is hubcaps on a car?” is a question on the lips of people who don’t know the difference between hubcaps and car rims. They use the words interchangeably, only to be stunned when they discover that they were using the wrong descriptions all along.

Steel Clean Hubcaps of Car

We’ll look at what hubcaps are and why they are important. Then, we’ll discover the differences between the hubcaps and the car rims.

What Are Hubcaps?

Hubcaps are wheel coverings placed in the center of wheels to decorate and protect them. The materials used in making these coverings include plastic, metal and chrome. The hubcaps connect the wheel to the car and are designed to cover the lug nuts and the center hub.


On the other hand, car rims are the outer circular parts of a wheel and are designed to protect its frame. Also, they keep the tires inflated and enable the vehicle to move forward or backward with ease. Both hubcaps and car rims enhance the aesthetics of the vehicle, but the car rims play a more crucial role. However, both components enhance the tire’s aesthetics and protect delicate parts of the wheels.

What Are the Types of Hubcaps?

The types of hubcaps are bolt-on, full, center, clip-on, spinner, painted, chrome, OEM, retaining ring, after-market and wheel skins. The reason for the numerous types of hubcaps is to cater to the demands and choices of the patrons. Thus, ensure you choose the right one for your car.

Bolt-on Hubcaps

Bolt-on hubcaps are fixed to the wheel using bolts or screws, making them more secure and permanent. Some drivers prefer this type because they don’t easily come off compared to other types, like the snap-on hubcaps.

A Close Look On Hubcaps With Bolt On

To install bolt-on hubcaps, ensure you align the hubcap with the wheel and boltholes. Next, use a wrench socket to firmly screw the bolts and screws in place to secure the hubcap.

Center Hubcaps

Also known as center caps, these types of wheels fit only the center of the vehicle’s wheel. They are smaller in size and are mainly designed to protect the center of the wheel hub and lug nuts.

A Vintage Elegant Center Caps of Wheel

Unlike bolt-on hubcaps, center hubcaps don’t need to be installed using bolts or nuts and can easily be removed. They are usually circular and are used in conjunction with steel wheels, but sometimes you can find them on alloy wheels as well.

Full Hubcaps

The full hubcaps, also known as full wheel hubcaps, cover the entire wheel and the outer rims, as the name suggests. They look like complete wheels and are designed to protect the spokes, wheels, and the center of the hub.

A Close Up Look On Full Hubcap

Most drivers use full hubcaps to give the vehicle an appealing physical appearance and to conceal the less appealing alloy wheels. They come in various designs and can be easily installed by anyone.

Clip-on Hubcaps

These types of hubcaps are fixed to the wheels by means of retention rings or clips, hence the name clip-on. Also known as snap-on hubcaps, they can be installed in no time and with little to no DIY experience.

A Detached Hubcap On the Road

Since they can easily be installed by hand, they can easily be removed as well; thus, they are less suitable for permanent solutions. Clip-on hubcaps protect the axle and the lug nuts parts of the wheel’s outer rim.

Spinner Hubcaps

Spinner hubcaps are designed to both protect and provide eye-catching aesthetics to a vehicle’s wheels. These hubcaps usually rotate in the middle of the wheel, according to the wheel’s motion.

Old School Spinner Hubcap

Spinner hubcaps are very popular in the world of customized cars and are commonly associated with vintage and classic cars. They are fixed to the wheel using retention rings to protect the hub and its components.

Painted Hubcaps

These hubcaps are made from plastic or metal, and they cover the axle and lug nuts of a vehicle. They are usually designed to clip on or snap on to the wheel and are painted to match the vehicle’s colors.

Mechanic Attaching Plastic Hubcap On Wheel

However, they can easily be removed or damaged due to the nature of the materials. Drivers on a budget usually use painted hubcaps to give their vehicles a more personalized look instead of the more expensive spinning hubcaps.

Chrome Hubcaps

Chrome hubcaps are designed to improve the look and feel of the vehicle’s appearance. They are fixed to the wheel by snapping or clipping them on to protect the center of the wheel.

Sport Chrome Hubcap Looking Fantastic on Car

Chrome hubcaps are more durable and can withstand several road conditions without breaking or cracking. However, maintaining them is quite laborious as you need to frequently clean them with mild soap and water to maintain their shine.

OEM Hubcaps

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) hubcaps are the type made by the same company that produced the car. Thus, they are made with the same materials, specifications, and design as the original hubcap that came with the car. Also, they require the same installation process (clip-no, bolt-on, spinning, etc.) as the original one. However, this type of hubcaps is more expensive than the aftermarket ones and more efficient and durable.

Original Company Manufactured Truck Cap

The OEM hubcaps can be procured from dealerships or authorized car parts suppliers across the country and are usually covered by warranty. They also help maintain the car’s resale value because the materials used in producing them are of the same quality as the original.

Aftermarket Hubcaps

Aftermarket wheel covers are the type produced by other companies aside from the original car manufacturing company. These hubcaps are designed to suit a wide range of wheels and thus, have no specific vehicle make or model.

A Black and White Aftermarket Wheel Cap

They are also made from different materials; some are more durable, while others are inferior. Aftermarket hubcaps also employ different types of installations, including snap-on, clip-on, or retention rings.

Some aftermarket hubcaps can be customized to suit the preferences of the consumer. You can paint them or decorate them with other materials to enhance the car’s aesthetics. Installing them, too, is relatively easy, as you can just clip or snap them into the wheels. However, note that the cost of aftermarket hubcaps varies due to the materials and other elements included in the designing and manufacturing process.

Wheel Skin Hubcaps

These hubcaps are a type of aftermarket product designed to appear like customized wheels while protecting the wheels on a vehicle. They come in various designs and sizes and can suit a wide variety of wheels.

Classic Customized Wheel Skin Hubcap

Wheel skins are primarily used for their aesthetics and can easily be installed or removed. They also serve as cheaper replacements for popular or more expensive wheels, but their durability depends on the type of material used in manufacturing them.

How to Choose the Right Hubcap for Your Vehicle?

To choose the right hubcap for your vehicle, factor in the size of your wheel, the type of wheel, the design that you want and the compatibility of the hubcap with your car. You’ll also have to consider the material used and check if the hubcap is easy to install.

The Size of Your Wheel

The most crucial step is to find out the size of your wheel to enable you to purchase the right hubcap that’ll fit it. You don’t want to buy a hubcap only to discover that it is bigger or slightly smaller than your wheel size.

A Pile Of Different Sized Wheels

The best place to check the size of your wheel is the manual or on the sides of your wheel. The wheel size is the combination of its diameter, width and offset and is usually measured in inches.

Know Your Wheel Type

After identifying the size of your wheel, the next thing to do is to know your wheel types to avoid buying the wrong hubcap. Check to see if the wheels are made of alloy or steel because the hubcaps for both metals are different. Using the wrong hubcap may not fit properly onto the wheel or cause the hubcap to deteriorate at a faster rate. Also, fixing hubcaps on steel might differ from fixing them on alloy metals.

Choose the Hubcap Type and Design

Now that you know the type of wheel under your car, it’s time to decide on the hubcap type and design. Hubcaps have a wide range of styles and designs, but not all will match your vehicle or improve its aesthetics, even though they fit your wheels perfectly. Thus, get a catalog of hubcap designs and choose the one that best suits your vehicle. Consider the colors of your vehicle and choose the hubcaps that have the same hues or that complement them.

Check Your Budget and Plan Accordingly

Consider your budget when planning on hubcap replacement because hubcaps vary according to costs and the type of material. As we’ve already discovered, OEM hubcaps are more expensive than aftermarket hubcaps, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find durable aftermarket wheel covers. Thus, check the prices of the hubcaps you want to buy and contrast it with your budget to see the ones that fit.

Also, the process of hubcap installation can have an impact on the budget. This is because some hubcaps are more labor-intensive than others; therefore, they require more money. If you’re on a tight budget, you can opt for hubcaps that are easy to install and do it yourself to save money. The material used in making the hubcap also influences the price; therefore, make sure you consider it as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all Cars Have Hubcaps on their Wheels?

No, not all cars have hubcaps on their wheels because hubcaps are not necessary for a car to function. They just protect certain parts of the wheels and also complement the car’s aesthetics. Rims, on the other hand, are necessary because they support the wheels to move.

What Causes Hubcaps to Fall Off?

The causes of hubcaps falling off are potholes and loosely fixed hubcaps. Deeper potholes are the main culprits, especially when you drive over them at speed. The kinetic motion of the tires against the stationary potholes can cause the hubcap to fall off when it is loosely fixed.


We’ve looked at the definition of what hubcaps are, what hubcaps are used for, and are hubcaps important.

Here is a recap of all that we’ve discussed so far:

  • Hubcaps are coverings placed in the center of wheels to protect some components and enhance the physical appeal of the vehicle.
  • The hubcaps are made from different materials, including plastic, metal, and chrome, and they come in different sizes, styles, and colors.
  • The types of hubcaps include bolt-on, full, center, clip-on, spinner, painted, chrome, OEM, retaining ring, after-market and wheel skins.
  • To choose a hubcap, consider your budget, the wheel size, the type of design, ease of installation and the budget you’ve allotted.
  • Some hubcaps are more expensive than others, even though they are of the same size and would perfectly fit our vehicle.

If you’re on a budget, then choose hubcaps that are easy to fix to avoid spending money on labor costs. You can also opt for aftermarket products instead of OEM to cut down on the expenditure.

Rate this post
Ran When Parked