The difference between hubcaps and wheel covers

Most car owners are pretty oblivious to the parts that go in, on, and around the vehicle. While most parts have their own technical names, people often generalize those names, which can create a lot of confusion, such as hubcaps and wheel covers. Most car owners think they are the same thing, but they are actually quite different.

the hubcap

The actual part of a hubcap on your car is to cover the hub portion of your wheels. This is the part where the wheel mounts to the hub and the nuts are attached or bolted on. Hubcaps generally do not cover the entire wheel. They actually fit over this central region of the hub and range from 2 inches to 10 inches in diameter, depending primarily on the size of the wheel.

Hubcaps are designed to easily attach to the wheel or hub area by snapping into place. This type of system has been around since the dawn of vehicles to make it easier to access the lug nuts that hold the wheel in place. Some hubcap systems used additional plastic lugs that snapped into and threaded onto the studs; however, the threads on the plastic wear and cross easily. When the threads wear, grip is lost, causing the hub cup to pop off the wheel.

Today the most popular model found in stores uses a snap or loop wire, tension, and clips to keep the hubcap flush with the hub. This forced fit prevents the hubcap from tearing and flying off.

vehicle wheel covers

This is where the confusion remains with a lot of people, as the wheel cover is very different from the hub cup. Unlike the hubcap that covers only part of the wheel, the wheel cover actually extends and covers the entire wheel.

Many modern vehicles will invest in quality wheel systems, such as pickup trucks that use precision cut magnetic alloy wheels designed to be not only strong but also aesthetically pleasing. However, most other cars are designed from an economic point of view. Many of these inexpensive vehicle options are designed with simple steel wheels. These are inexpensive and easy to produce on the assembly line.

While plain steel wheels are easy to produce and fit most styles of vehicles, they tend to be extremely unattractive. For this style of wheel, a hubcap would not sufficiently cover the overall design. This is where the wheel cover becomes a popular option.

Wheel covers come in a variety of styles and are made from quality metals with intricate designs to simple plastic that has the sole purpose of covering your wheel…and not much else.

While hubcaps have been a part of American car culture since the early 1900s, wheel covers have only been around since the early 1950s, when they debuted on American-made vehicles. Since technology is always advancing, Honda improved the design in the 1980s into a design that is still used by car manufacturers and car enthusiasts to this day.

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