The Purpose of Hubcaps – Should You Put Them On Your Steel Rims?

There is much debate as to the true purpose of hubcaps and whether or not you really need to have them attached to your wheels. If you run alloy wheels in the summer and switch to steelies for your snow tires in the winter, you may want to know if it’s worth the money and trouble to get some hubcaps for your steel wheels. Or maybe you simply lost a hubcap to a pothole and are trying to figure out if it’s worth replacing it. Whether or not you lost a hubcap or you just bought a set of OEM Steel wheels that didn’t come with hubcaps, should you put hubcaps on your steel rims ? In our opinion, absolutely. Let’s first consider the purpose of hubcaps. Hubcaps have existed for hundreds of years, and their use has evolved since their earliest use on carriages in the late 17th century. Understanding the true purpose of hubcaps will help you make a more informed decision on whether or not you would like to include them on your vehicle.

Purpose of Hubcaps # 1 – Visual Appeal

Today, most hubcaps are made of plastic and designed to give an OEM steel wheel the visual appeal of OEM alloy wheels.

Since alloy wheels are more expensive than steel wheels, automakers can save money by going with the steel wheel and hubcap combination. Most car buyers don’t mind going the steel wheel route, and those that care can opt for a trim level that comes standard with alloy wheels.

The problem with the steel wheel and hubcap combination is that once you lose a hubcap (or two, three or four!), you are no longer are left with a  steel wheel that looks like a nice shiny alloy wheel. Instead, you’re usually left with a dirty steel wheel that is anything but appealing to the eye. Cars simply look a heck of a lot better when their steel wheels have their hubcaps attached.

Purpose of Hubcaps # 2 – Protect Your Wheel Hardware and Lug Nuts

Your hubcaps may play a less important role in protecting the wheel hardware and other components from dirt, debris and grime as they did on the Newton Reaction Carriage, but they still act as an additional line of defense against the elements. Especially important in winter months, your hubcaps will protect your steel rims from dangerous road chemicals including salt, that can lead to premature rust and wear on your steel wheels. A small investment in a plastic hubcap can prevent you from replacing steel wheels, which will save you money in the long run.

Apart from your wheels, hubcaps will help keep your lug nuts from rusting and getting stuck. If you’ve ever had tried to change a tire with rusted lug nuts just take our word that it’s a situation that’s best avoided.

Beware Of Imitation Hubcaps

We specialize in supplying  OEM wheels and hubcaps for sale, and we do not buy or sell any products that are not 100% genuine OEM products. There’s a reason we don’t, too:

OEM hubcaps use a much higher grade plastic than imitation or knockoff products like you’ll find in the big box stores. Apart from the fact that those hubcaps always just look cheap and poorly made, they are far from durable. We get so many customers coming to us for OEM hubcaps after they bought knockoff replacement hubcaps only to have them fly off or break easily. In addition to being very fragile, imitation hubcaps are known use cheaper hardware that secures the cap to the rim. They’re much more likely to pop off more readily at the slightest sign of a pothole.

Now that you understand the true purpose of hubcaps, we hope that you realize their importance. Apart from simply looking cool, hubcaps serve an important purpose of keeping your wheel hardware free from debris and will keep your wheels safer from the elements. Considering the modest price tag of most hubcaps compared to replacing the wheel, we absolutely recommend replacing your OEM hubcaps should they become lost or broken.

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