If you have steel rims, hubcaps, and poor-quality roads, you’ll inevitably ask yourself how to keep hubcaps from falling off.
Losing a hubcap, in the first place, ruins the overall look of the car not to mention the cost. Sometimes it’s hard to find a replacement hubcap, especially if you lost the original ones from the factory.
This article will show you a simple and cheap way to prevent this from happening in the first place. You won’t need any special tools or equipment and it won’t take much time.
At the end of the article, you also have a video tutorial that you can also watch on our YouTube channel.
WHAT CAUSES HUBCAPS TO FALL OFF?
Some of the most common causes for the hubcaps to fall off would be:
If you hit a big pothole (especially at high speeds) there’s a good chance that the hubcap will be sent flying off to the side of the road and in most cases, you won’t even notice it.
Poorly mounted hubcaps
If the hubcaps aren’t mounted properly (they haven’t clicked into place, they were misaligned with the rim, or else) it’s only a matter of time before they fall off. Especially if you hit a pothole.
By low quality I mean hubcaps that are made from flimsy and fragile plastic and have weak metal clips or rings for holding them in place.
When they’re made out of good materials, you need some serious force to get them off the wheel and rim. With low-quality hubcaps, the first serious impact will either brake them or send them flying off the wheel.
HOW TO KEEP HUBCAPS FROM FALLING OFF?
All you’ll need for this simple procedure is a bag of zip ties and some cutting pliers.
I would recommend quality zip ties and ones that have the proper length. If you happen to have shorter ones, we’ll show you a hack later in that article that will help you with that.
Also, for aesthetic reasons try to buy zip ties that have a similar color to the hubcaps. This way they will be less visible.
For more information on the hubcap topic (how to take them off, mount them properly, and else), click here to read the article and watch the video.
So let’s show some ways for how to keep the hubcaps from falling off:
1. MAKE SURE THE HUBCAP IS PROPERLY MOUNTED ON THE WHEEL
Before using zip ties, make sure the hubcap is properly set in place.
The two most common systems for holding it in place are metal clips and a metal ring. Whatever the case, make sure it sits in properly.
So, check that all the metal clips are in place, that non of them are broken or damaged and that the hubcap sits firmly on the rim.
If not, you’ll notice it easily. There will be an opening between the hubcap and the rim. In more severe cases, it may even dangle and wobble on the rim while driving.
When you have a problem like this, best take off the hubcap and make an inspection. If some clips are missing, the ring is damaged or else you might want to look for a new or better hubcap.
But even in this case, the zip ties will probably help as you’ll see later.
2. USE QUALITY-MADE HUBCAPS
Using quality hubcaps will solve half of the problem, so to say.
Good materials mean good quality and this usually means that the hubcap will have a much better chance to stay on the wheel.
By good materials, I mean sturdy, resilient plastic and good metal clips.
Besides this, if the system for holding the hubcap is good then you have a winner.
If possible avoid the ones that are made from rigid, easy-to-brake plastic and have weak clips and clip holders on them. This kind of plastic not only brakes easily on impact but can brake when taking them off like when changing a spare tire.
For more information on how to change a spare tire, click here to see the article or watch the video.
Sometimes, it’s better to go and look for used hubcaps of better quality than the flimsy aftermarket ones. Not all of them are bad, but from personal experience, nothing can beat the ones from the factory.
So, on this part of how to keep hubcaps from falling off, use hubcaps that are made from good plastic and have a good system for holding to the rim.
3. USE ZIP TIES TO KEEP THE HUBCAPS IN PLACE
Once you’ve checked that the hubcap is properly mounted, take the zip ties and do this:
Wrap the zip tie around the hubcap and rim
On almost every rim there will be openings that are more or less aligned with the hubcap. This should allow you to push the zip tie around the rim and over the hubcap.
Tighten the zip tie
Connect the zip tie and tighten it until it has a firm grip on the hubcap. You don’t have to use too much force so you don’t accidentally damage or scratch the hubcap.
If possible, tuck the locking head towards the rim so it’s less visible. This will make it look better and the zip tie will be less visible.
Of course, make sure that the zip tie doesn’t interfere with anything when the wheel turns. It shouldn’t but take a look just in case.
Best put two zip ties for each hubcap, adjacent to each other. This gives much better insurance and almost eliminates the possibility of the hubcap falling off.
Cut the zip tie tail off
Once you’ve tightened the zip tie enough, cut off the tail with the pliers so it doesn’t get in the way when the wheel starts turning.
What if the zip ties aren’t long enough?
The zip ties you have may be too short. This is a common situation as with some cars the width between the holes on the rim and the hubcap is really wide.
In this case, you have to buy longer zip ties but if you can’t for some reason, you can use the shorter ones you already have.
Simply connect them to each other by pulling one through the other. Push the tail of one zip tie into the locking head of the other.
As you’ll see, you’ll essentially get one longer zip tie. One end will have a tail and the other a locking head. You get a sort of double mechanism for tightening.
After that, push it through the rim and around the hubcap as you would do with one zip tie. Connect it and then tighten but this time pull both ends.
If possible set the locking heads so they’re less visible. But most times, because there are two of them, this won’t be possible.
This is a downside to this solution when mentioning how to keep hubcaps from falling off.
The locking heads are in most cases visible which isn’t that pretty. Apart from that, this solution is very effective.
With all this, the hubcaps should be safe from falling off. Without cutting the zip ties on purpose, it’s almost impossible for them to fall off during driving.
Again, best use zip ties of better quality, with the proper length and if possible with the matching color.
The end result is two barely visible lines on the hubcaps and nothing else.
Don’t forget to put zip ties for the hubcaps every time you change the tires (like for the winter or summer season for instance). If the tire shop doesn’t do it, do it yourself.
Once more for the end and to answer the question of how to keep hubcaps from falling off: use quality hubcaps, mount them properly and use zip ties to ensure them.
This should solve the problem.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
HOW TO KEEP HUBCAPS FROM FALLING OFF? YOUTUBE VIDEO