What is a center cap for wheels?

A center cap is simply a protective covering for the central part of an automobile wheel. Larger center caps may be referred to as hub caps.

Purpose: Decorative and practical

Center caps serve different purposes. However, what catches the eye first most times is its aesthetics. They complete the whole look of your wheels and they come in several sizes, shapes, and styles. They usually come with the manufacturer’s wheel logo but can be customized as well.

Center caps have protective functions on the wheel bearings by keeping them from dust and moisture. The larger center caps also protect the lug nuts and studs. With time, they wear out and need replacement.

Specify make, year and model to find matching parts:

Make
Model

The different varieties of center caps

Since you are looking to customize or find a replacement for your center caps, you would want to look out for the different types and see which is best for you. The most common varieties are:

  • OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer): This is the center cap type that comes along with an original vehicle. Hence, you can easily replace it with your dealership if it gets missing or damaged. It has its manufacturer’s wheel emblems. They are more compatible and durable than the aftermarket caps.
  • Aftermarket: Independent manufacturers make this center cap. It has its basis on the OEM cap. Aftermarket caps are cheaper than OEMs, and they have more flexible color options. You will find them at car accessories retailers.  
  • Custom: As the name implies, this type of center cap is made on-demand. Their exclusivity added ensures that they are the most expensive center caps in the market. Because of their price, they are relatively rare to find. However, you may find them at certain wheel specialty service shops.
  • Chrome: They draw attention with their colors and styles. They match the whole wheel as well as its chrome components.

How do you find center caps for your vehicle?

You may want to find center caps for your vehicle because you want a customized look or you bought a used car and you need the original parts. Finding center caps can be at different places:

  • Dealerships: This favors OEMs and the cost may be reduced if your vehicle is new. Conversely, dealerships may represent a more expensive option.
  • Online stores: These days, you can get almost anything online. Online stores have the advantage of easily comparing prices from different competitors. Shipping charges may constitute a nuisance sometimes.
  • Used auto part dealers: This is the best option if you are on a budget. There are usually awesome deals on wheel center caps.

How to install center caps

Center caps are much easier to install than to remove. Depending on the type of center cap, you may just snap it into place or remove the entire wheel. Depending on the person doing installing the caps, it may take several minutes to an hour.

Tools that you will need

  • A center cap removal kit
  • Tire iron
  • Car jack and jack stands (if you need to remove the wheel)
  • Wheel chocks

 

Tips and reminders

  • Your auto must have proper support when you are on its wheels.
  • Always go through your vehicle’s service manual before getting a new rim center cap.
  • Remember to evaluate the center cap you want to remove. If it has two pinholes, it will be very easy to remove.
  • If it is an aftermarket cap, you should check the specifications to ensure that it is compatible with your wheel.

 

Step-by-step

  1. The surface you park your vehicle on should be level. Apply the parking brakes and put wheel chocks on the rear wheels of the vehicle.
  2. Place the tip of the center cap removal kit into any of the pinholes, applying equal pressure to remove the cap.
  3. Use the cap removal tool to create a space between the center cap and the wheel. Apply firm pressure on both sides to bring it out. If this does not work, you may need to jack the vehicle up.
  4. Remove the lug nuts using a tire iron.
  5. Remove the wheel from the car and push the center cap out with the tire iron from behind.
  6. Clean the hole at the center with a cloth before putting a new cap.
  7. Put the retention ring inside the center cap. It either will fit into place or will come with a metal hoop to secure its place. You could use needle-nose pliers for this.
  8. Place the center cap over the space at the center of the wheel.
  9. Push the cap firmly into place. Do this for the remaining wheels

How do you measure a center cap on a wheel?

You need three measurements to ensure perfect replacement and wheel fixing. The inner diameter, outer diameter, and depth. Use a tape rule across the opening of the center cap. This measures the internal diameter, which shows you the measurement you need for the wheel hub to fit.

The outer diameter is measured at the base of the center cap, and it shows how the cap will fit over the wheel. Hold the center cap opening and let it face downwards. Measure the internal part of the center cap until you meet resistance at the face of the center cap. This measures the depth.

 

Are wheel center caps universal?

No. People commonly think that any center cap would just fit into any wheel but this is not the case. A wheel may have as much as 30 different center caps for it.

To get the exact size of center caps for your wheels, you can use your wheel measurements, the original cap, or part number of the original cap.

Are wheel center caps interchangeable?

Yes. You can get your custom wheel center caps irrespective of your wheel style. In addition to this, there are varieties of rim center caps, wheel emblems, spinner center caps, all of which serve to enrich your experience.


 

Automotive Guides and Reviews

Wheels & Tires Car Parts

Tires
Wheels
Caliper Covers
Wheels Spacers
Wheel Adapters
Hub Caps
Tire Chains
TPMS Sensors
Spare Tire Covers
Center Caps
Hub Centric Rings
Lug Nuts & Locks