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How to Remove Hubcaps in 5 Easy Steps

How to Remove Hubcaps in 5 Easy Steps

Removing and Replacing Your Specific Hubcap Type

Whether plastic, chrome or a simple steel OEM part, replacement hubcaps play an important role in maintaining your vehicle while also adding style to your ride. Hubcaps aren’t just for fashion. They are an important functional component that protects your wheels from damage by covering the center spokes. And, even though hubcaps come in all shapes and sizes, replacing pop-on, screwed-on and bolted-on styles is a straightforward garage fix. 

It’s important to note that hubcaps are the cover that overlays the lug nuts on your vehicle, while wheel covers shield the entire wheel, often leaving the lug nuts visible. Especially in the winter months or if you live where the weather is wet or salty, you need hubcaps to prolong the need to replace your wheels entirely, saving you money. They prevent your lug nuts from rusting and getting stuck, which can make removing your tires with common home garage tools much more complicated. 

You might wonder how to remove hubcaps and if replacing them is an easy DIY project or if you should entrust the experts at a local NAPA Auto Care Center near you. Here are the five easy tips the NAPA experts recommend for removing your hubcaps:

  1. First, identify the type of hubcap your vehicle uses. They are either clipped on, bolted or even screwed on to the wheel. If you cannot tell, refer to your owner’s instruction manual.
  2. This specialized Hub Cap Removal Tool allows you to gently pry around the wheel of your vehicle to pop out the hubcap or full wheel cover without cracking any hardware, which can absolutely happen if you try to use a screwdriver or some other tool not specified for the task. Pop-on hubcaps are typically secured in place using plastic clips, so take care when handling them. Take the tool and work your way around the sides of the hubcap to pop it loose.
  3. If there is a wheel cover over the top of your lug nuts, simply use this Wheel Cover Puller (proudly made in the U.S.) to quickly remove the cover without gouging any parts you don’t plan to replace.
  4. If your hubcap comes bolted on with lug nuts, you’ll need to first jack up your automobile so that you can safely remove the lug nuts (which also hold the wheel in place). Wheel Lug Nut Removers come pre-manufactured using a coating that does not scratch the components around your wheels and can adjust to fit larger lug nuts.
    You can use a wrench, preferably one that came with your vehicle’s jack, to turn the bolted-on lug nuts counterclockwise. Go around loosening each lug nut a little without completely removing them individually. When each nut is loosened, begin removing one nut, then the one opposite to it, until all are out. Try not to loosen the plastic washers that might accompany the lug nuts and do not remove the tire.
  5. Screwed-on hubcaps never require the use of air-driven impact wrenches; therefore, you only need a hand tool to unscrew each lug nut, which is possibly plastic in this case. If you use the wrong tools, you risk stripping the threads of the lug nuts, increasing the odds that your hubcaps will fall off at some point. Once the lugs become loosened, you can safely unscrew the nuts. 

Replacing Your Exact OEM HubcapsHub cap

Because hubcaps act as your first line of defense against the elements, installing them is an important part of replacing your broken or old OEM hubcaps. Removing and replacing hubcaps takes a little finesse, particularly if it’s your first time. If you are up to the project, it is a rewarding task, especially if you opt for a flashier option. 

Strengthen the integrity of your wheels, helping them to deflect potentially harmful debris, by using the easy steps below to replace your vehicle’s hubcaps. 

  1. Replacing pop-in caps includes ensuring your vehicle is level and placing the new cap over the wheel using protective gloves, then pressing firmly on opposite sides to install evenly. It is helpful to take a rubber mallet and gently tap the new, pop-in hubcap into place. 
  2. Replacing bolt-on caps is more involved, so take the extra step to prevent rolling, like putting on the parking brake and engaging the wheel chocks before beginning the replacement. Once the old hub is off, simply slide the new one into place and start reattaching the lug nuts. To firmly tighten bolted-on lug nuts, use the lug wrench.
  3. Replacing screw-on caps might include replacing the plastic nuts. Easily place the new hubcap and begin to tighten the plastic nuts, taking caution not to over-tighten, strip or crack them. With screw-on caps, plastic nuts are at higher risk of loosening, so periodically check the tightness.

It is an eyesore when a hubcap flies away or breaks off after becoming loose or hitting a pothole. However, the inexpensive replacement parts NAPA offers are an economical way to remedy this issue. Shop and experience the premiere customer service of Curbside PickUp or Free One-Day Shipping. NAPA now also offers NAPA Rewards. Get one Point for every $1 you spend. Sign up today and save today! 

Featured image courtesy of pxhere.

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More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.

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