How to Keep Hubcaps from Falling Off

by Phil Sollecito - Date: 2007-01-17 - Word Count: 718 Share This!

Hubcaps should mount firmly onto your rims, with full contact all around the perimeter of the steel wheel. You should be able to remove them with your bare hands with great difficulty, or not at all. This is the case with over 99% of standard wheels. However, there is some minor variation in diameter between wheels made by different manufacturers. If your wheels are 'tight' you may have difficulty mounting hubcaps all the way on. If your wheels are "loose" they may make noises or they might come off when you hit bumps.

If your wheels are loose, or slightly oversized, your hubcaps may not mount firmly enough to stay on over bumps at highway speeds. Here are some tips to remedy this situation. These tips apply to standard modern push-on type hubcaps.

1. Make sure you have not applied any "lubricant" products to the surface of the steel wheel where the hubcaps mount, especially in the recess around the bead of the tire.
Products like ArmorAll or Tire Shine contain silicone and other lubricants that can increase the slickness of surfaces they are applied to. If this is the case, thoroughly clean the residue off the mounting surface where the hubcap struts come in contact with the wheel with alcohol or paint thinner. Also clean any residue off the hubcap mounting struts. Remount and test.

2. If your hubcaps have a second notch for the spring retention ring, to position it closer to the outer face of the hubcap, you can try moving the ring to that slot.
Note: The normal position for the spring ring is at the END of the mounting strut, moving it's position closer to the outer face of the hubcap will VASTLY increase the mounting pressure on a normal wheel, to the extent that the hubcap may crack before it mounts all the way. But if your wheel is oversize, it will increase the fit to 'snug.'

3. If your hubcaps have spring metal mounting clips on the ends of the struts, you can try bending every other one outward 1/4 inch, remount and test. If that is still not enough holding pressure, bend the rest of them outward. That usually does it.

4. If the above have not worked for you, you can try this: Wrap the outer contact point of every other strut with black electricians tape. The goal is to get 3 or 4 wraps of additional thickness on the mounting strut or clip, which will increase its holding power. Remount and test. If this is still not enough, go ahead and wrap the rest of them.

5. In some rare cases, the paint on steel wheels is glossy and slick, especially when painted to match the car. This can result in hubcap loss, even when the hubcaps seem to go on tight. In this case, you can use coarse 80 grit sandpaper to roughen the paint in the area where the hubcap struts contact the wheel. Make the scratches parallel to the circumference of the wheel. This can give the mounting struts enough extra grab to keep them in their place. Do not sand enough to remove all the paint, the hubcap mounting struts will grab the paint better than bare steel.

6. If your wheels have been deformed out of round by impact with curbs or road hazards, you may never be able to get hubcaps to stay on. This condition will also cause the tire wear pattern to be uneven, and may cause a shimmy as you drive. One way to diagnose this problem is to have a friend follow you in another car to observe if any of your wheels are wobbling. This would also show up on a spin-balancing machine. The only real fix for the problem is to replace the wheel.
7. If all else fails, you can try this trick, often used by police departments to reduce hubcap loss in high speed chases. Obtain a dozen nylon ties, the kind with one flat end that goes through the square hole at the other other end and you pull tight. They need to be 6-8 inches long, at least 2 per hubcap, 3 is better. Go through a couple of holes in your wheel and matching holes in the hubcap, and cinch them tight. Not as pretty, but it works.

Related Tags: car, auto, lose, truck, installation, tighten, hubcaps, wheel covers, retain, mounting clips, fall off

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