What Do Hubcaps Do?

My sister took a corner too fast and her front passenger hubcap flew off, lost forever. Her version of the story is that someone stole her hubcap. C’mon, sis, who would steal just one hubcap? You drive too fast, just admit it.

Hubcaps with fake bolts

Did you know they make hubcaps with fake bolts on them? All for looks, dudes, all for looks.

The end result is the same though, she’s missing a hubcap. She texted me to ask if she really needed to replace it. Because that line of texting answered the question so well, here it is:

Sis: Are hubcaps necessary?  What do they do exactly?

TB: Hubcaps are only for looks. Nothing more, nothing less.

Sis: Do they protect the tire at all? Or tire bolts? Keep things from getting rusted??

TB: Nope.

Sis: Then why the hell do car manufacturers make them? It’s wasteful and dumb!

TB: Looks. Only for looks.

And there you have it, folks. Hubcaps serve zero purpose. Zero. Nothing.

If you like the look of them, then keep replacing them when they pop off (more expensive ones tend to not fall off as often). But if you don’t care about the looks, then there’s no need to replace them when they fall off because you took a corner too fast. Or they got stolen. Whatever your story is.


What Do Hubcaps Do? — 37 Comments

    • And now you know that you don’t need to feel guilty! Either take them all off and be done with the useless things, buy a new one for the look of it, or keep it at 3 because who cares? :-)

  1. You can always seem to find a hubcap leaned up against a tree or trash can, so maybe your sister can find hers or a different one. I think it might be kind of cool to have four different ones. A statement anyway! Here’s a car question for you. We live at altitude,so it’s OK to use a lower octane gas than recommended. My car recommends 87 octane, but regular here is 86 and that works fine. There is one station that is cheaper, but regular there is 85. Do you think that would matter? If I tried it and it did start knocking or whatever, would it do permanent damage or just wash out with the next fill up? Thanks.

  2. I remember going shopping with a friend who wanted to change his hubcaps to cool-looking, crazy expensive ones. I just couldn’t get myself around the money spent just for car cosmetics. Don’t remember what he did with the factory ones, maybe you can get free ones somewhere people dispose of them.

  3. That’s common knowledge around here! I drive with winter tires around six months of the year, and it’s common for mechanics to leave the hubcaps off the winter tires. In the dead of winter, you could look down the street, and most cars are hubcapless.

  4. Or you can dress up your car for almost no money. My opinion is that a car without hubcaps or with one or more missing, or with mismatched hubcaps, looks like a person all dressed up but with beaten-up sneakers on. We bought extremely cheap ones and painted them brightly. Makes his new car even fancier and gives my older car some interesting esthetics it didn’t have with the factory-installed (ugly) hubcaps.

    • Now that’s definitley true too. Hubcaps are rather cheap, compared to other car things you could buy, and so if you have to play dress up with your car, that’s a decent place to start. Cheaper than a paint job!

  5. I love it! I remember thinking they actually some purpose, other than looks, when my Dad told me in high school that they really did nothing. Sure, your car may look a little strange without one, but if someone doesn’t like it they can just look away in my opinion.

    • That’s what I’m talking about! And a car without hubcaps isn’t exactly “ugly” or “strange” anyway, it’s just that we’re not used to seeing them! It’s like getting to see a woman without makeup, it’s strange at first, but then you realize that that is how they really are! Haha, I think the late hour is showing, I’m getting punchy :-)

  6. At work, we have quite the collection of lost hubcaps. Some cars seem to be worse at losing them than others. I’ve never seen a Buick Century with 4 hubcaps, but my wife’s Chrysler has ones that require a prybar and a hammer to remove.

    • That works out awesomely. I did that once with an old car of mine. A hubcap flew off, and I just found another one on the side of the road somewhere and picked it up. It didn’t match, but whatever. Maybe all the hubcaps that come off peoples’ cars are just getting constantly rotated throughout the country by people like us who pick them up and use them, lol.

  7. I’m going to swim against the current here, and state that hubcaps do have value, as the heartwarming story below beautifully illustrates.

    Last Christmas I go into a restaurant for a breakfast while in my home town for the holidays. After looking over the menu I say, “I’ll just have the eggs Benedict.” My order comes a while later and it’s served on a big, shiny hubcap.

    I asks the waiter, “What’s with the hubcap?”

    The waiter sings, “Oh, there’s no plate like chrome for the hollandaise!”

  8. I had a Nissan Frontier truck that had “fancy wheels” so no hubcaps were needed. I didn’t think they were so special but apparently Nissan thought they were and included wheel locks. What a pain. First I lost the key and my mechanic had to get a new lock set. Then, a different mechanic lost a key. It so happened that I needed new tires shortly thereafter, so when I brought it to the tire dealer I instructed him to break the locks and replace the locking lug nuts with plain ones. End of problems!

  9. I had to laugh out loud when I read this post, as just the other day I saw the funniest looking vehicle in all my years of driving. I’ll do my best to pain the picture for you…it was a late 90’s Mitsubishi 4 door that had certainly seen it’s better days. There were more dents than original body work, as if someone had been throwing baseballs at it, repeatedly. It had a different color door on each hinge, and the windows hadn’t been cleaned in years. When I looked down at the wheels, I saw two very bright and shiny “spinner” hub caps from our local Wal-Mart. I didn’t get around to the other side of the vehicle to see if he had all 4 on, but I had to give him props for having the kahunas to drive that thing around!

    • Lol, it’s ridiculous when people do things like that. But I guess we all have our things that we “need” right? I think it’d be cool to talk with the dude and have him explain what he’s thinking!

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  14. What wheel covers do is protect your steel rims from curb damage. If you run over a curb lightly, you will scratch/damage the wheel cover and not the steel rim. Its a lot cheaper/ easier to replace a wheel cover than to get a steel rim fixed. To me thats a major advantage of a wheel cover. Wheel covers are so cheap, at $20-25 for a set of 4 at K-Mart/ Wal-Mart, there is no reason not to have them. If you lost just one factory wheel cover, put 2 aftermarket ones on one side and leave the factory ones on the other side, nobody will even no that they don’t match.

  15. Driving around with a missing hubcap is like living in a house with a smile with a missing tooth, everything still works, but it doesn’t look attractive. Driving around with no hubcaps looks like dump or ghetto car— even stolen. Folks, get some class, get some freak’n hubcaps.

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