What Are Hubcaps? (Are They Needed, Falling Off + More)

Whether you’re looking to get hubcaps or have a car with them, distinguishing hubcaps from rims can sometimes be complicated.

Hubcaps aren’t as common as they once were. However, you can still find them on cars occasionally. Keep reading below to find out what hubcaps are and what you need to know about them.

What Are Hubcaps?

Hubcaps cover the center of the wheel. However, they can also sometimes cover the entire wheel. They are an alternative to fancy rims, though they don’t replace rims completely. Rims are required to hold the tire on the car. However, hubcaps can be fit over them to provide extra aesthetics.

However, what hubcaps do is a bit expensive. Read below for everything you need to know about hubcaps.

What Is The Purpose Of Hubcaps?

Hubcaps have been in use for a very long time. Specifically, they were utilized on carriages, making them predate cars.

For the most part, hubcaps don’t actually have much of a purpose.

Instead, they are simply aesthetically pleasing. Without them, the car’s wheels would look quite ugly, which is why they were invented in the first place.

Usually, installing hubcaps is pretty easy. All you need to do is snap them into place. Because they’re just aesthetic, it isn’t particularly important that they are securely tightened or anything of that sort. If they fall off, your car won’t fail.

With that said, hubcaps do provide some protection from dirt and other debris.

When you’re driving, these rocks and dirt can potentially damage your wheels. However, this damage is often minor and isn’t the primary purpose of hubcaps.

Are Hubcaps And Rims The Same Thing?

Are hubcaps and rims the same thing?

Hubcaps and rims are not the same. In fact, there are many differences between these two car parts.

In all cases, cars have rims. Specifically, the rim is the round metal piece that the tires go on and connect to. Without them, the tire wouldn’t have anything to attach to.

On the other hand, not every car has hubcaps. Sometimes, hubcaps are attached to the outside of the rim to improve the appearance. After all, that’s their main purpose.

Generally, rims are always made from metal, while hubcaps are typically made of plastic today.

Furthermore, the general purpose of these two things is different. For instance, hubcaps are designed to add aesthetics to the tire – and some argue that they protect the tire as well.

Sometimes, you will still find hubcaps on heavy-duty vehicles due to the idea that they protect the vehicle from rust and dirt.

However, rims are required to hold the tire firmly.

At the same time, hubcaps are much easier to change. Generally, you just snap them on and off of the rim.

However, you can’t simply change the rims of a car without some serious heavy-lifting equipment.

Can You Drive Without a Hubcap?

Yes. For the most part, hubcaps are completely optional. While they may provide some protection, you don’t need them for your car’s stability. In fact, many cars come without them completely.

With that said, if you do have hubcaps, it can be quite awkward to drive around with a hubcap missing. After all, your car will be driving around a bit half-dressed.

Very few people want everyone to see their car’s aesthetically-deficient steel wheels and lug nuts.

Sadly, one hubcap can actually be quite expensive. For instance, one hubcap may cost as much as $250.

For your typical hubcap, you may be looking at a range closer to $25 or $50. The car you’re purchasing the hubcaps for matters.

For instance, older cars usually have more expensive hubcaps since they usually aren’t in production anymore.

Should I Get Hubcaps or Rims?

Should I Get Hubcaps or Rims?

Before you choose an option for your car, there is a lot that you need to keep in mind.

In many cases, rims provide more protection for your car than hubcaps do. With that said, both were made to provide some level of protection.

However, aesthetically speaking, some people prefer hubcaps over rims. For the most part, hubcaps are designed to be aesthetic. That is their main purpose.

With that said, most cars do come with rims today for practical and aesthetic purposes.

Today, many people consider rims to be the best aesthetic option. However, it does come down to your preferences.

Furthermore, rims often provide more performance. Specifically speaking, rims provide more airflow and lessen the downforce, providing more stability.

Generally, all of these features typically point towards getting rims instead of hubcaps.

With that said, in the end, it is up to you. For the most part, there are reasons to get both.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Hubcap?

When you need to replace a hubcap, the cost can vary considerably.

For the average hubcap, it cost about $25 to $50 for each. Usually, installation doesn’t cost much in the least. In most cases, hubcaps simply snap on.

Compared to rims, installing hubcaps is quite inexpensive.

However, if you have more expensive hubcaps, you can expect to spend a bit more.

Sometimes, premium hubcaps cost as much as $100. For older cars, they sometimes cost as much as $200.

Like with most pieces of equipment, the cost varies considerably depending on the exact hubcaps you are purchasing.

Why Do Hubcaps Fall Off?

Why Do Hubcaps Fall Off?

Hubcaps are simply snapped onto the wheel in many cases.

For this reason, they can easily fall off under some circumstances. For instance, cheaper options usually fall of more frequently since they are cheaply made.

In many cases, hubcaps that fall off were poorly fitted, to begin with.

For instance, those that weren’t designed for your car may not fit correctly. If you hit a pothole or curb, you can easily dislodge your hubcap if it isn’t fitted well anyway.

Luckily, there are some things that you can do to prevent your hubcaps from falling off – such as fitting your hubcaps better to your vehicle.

To know more, you can also see our posts on what are wheel adapters, what are wheel locks, what size hubcaps do I need, and what are wheel hubs.

Conclusion

Hubcaps are a covering that’s placed on the wheel for aesthetic purposes. Occasionally, they may provide some extra protection, though it is minimal.

Hubcaps are quite rare today, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find them. Many cars still come with hubcaps, and you can always purchase extra hubcaps for other cars.

However, it’s essential to ensure that the hubcap can fit onto your car correctly, or they may fall off easily.

Whether you choose fancier rims or hubcaps is up to you. In many cases, there are benefits to both.

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