Hubcap Vs Wheel Cover: What Are Some Better Options for Your Vehicle?

The wheels on your vehicle are one of its most important components. If the wheels are not solid, your vehicle will not offer the level of safety and performance you need. 

When purchasing hubcaps or wheel covers, individuals need to know the difference. They also need to know if there are better options available to help them protect their wheels and keep their vehicle looking stylish. With this comprehensive guide, you will learn about hubcap vs wheel cover and all they entail. 

The Difference Between Hubcaps and Wheel Covers

Both hubcaps and wheel covers protect your wheels. But, one of them offers more coverage and protection than the other. 

If you don’t know the difference between the two of these, don’t be ashamed. Many people get confused about these two options. In fact, this is one of the most common mix-ups among car and truck owners. So, let’s dig into the facts and learn about the key differences between these two. 


Often, hubcaps are considered more of a decoration than anything else, but they serve an important purpose. Hubcaps cover the inner hub of your wheels. They keep the lug nuts from becoming corroded because of water exposure. They also help to ensure you do not lose a lug nut on the road. If one comes loose, it will remain trapped within the hubcap so you can put it back in place when you get to a safe area. 

In the past, they made hubcaps of heavy-duty metal, and they were much more durable. Today, most manufacturers make their hubcaps from cheap plastic. 

Wheel Covers

There are also wheel cover options. People often call hubcaps wheel covers, but this is not correct. A wheel cover is like a hubcap, but it covers the entire visible surface of the wheel. 

Drivers often choose wheel covers for their style more than their protection. Many vehicle owners dislike their wheel hubs being exposed because they do not look attractive. Wheel covers can dramatically transform the look of your wheels. 

Hubcap Vs Wheel Covers

Which Is Best for Your Vehicle?

Now that you know the differences between these two, you are likely wondering which one will be best for your vehicle. The choice will depend on whether you are more concerned about protection or style. 

If you want the best of both worlds-protection and style, choose wheel covers. Yes, hubcaps are meant to protect your lug nuts, but a wheel cover protects your lug nuts and the entire outer surface of the wheel hub. 

Many owners choose wheel covers because they want to protect their wheels fully. They make wheels of steel and steel alloy. They are typically covered in a protective sealant to prevent them from corroding. Unfortunately, this coating can become damaged over time, leaving your wheels vulnerable to developing rust. Rust is something you do not want as a car owner. 

Wheel Covers Make Your Vehicle Look Amazing

If you are riding around in an older vehicle, you have likely discovered your wheels don’t look as beautiful as they did in the showroom. Rusty and dinged wheels do not make your ride look attractive. 

It is important to note that, in most cases, you are going to save money by purchasing wheel covers instead of new wheels. Because your wheels will be hidden entirely by the wheel cover, it will look as if you have new wheels. 

With so many types of wheel covers, you can easily find one that fits your vehicle precisely. When choosing a wheel cover, make sure the material is durable. Manufacturers make some from cheap plastic, and they are going to break on you quickly.  

Your Questions Answered: Hubcaps & Wheel Covers

Even though you now know the differences between wheel cover vs hubcap, you likely have a lot of questions. Getting the correct answers is essential for helping you choose the right one for your vehicle. Consider the following when you are deciding on purchasing hubcaps or wheel covers. 

How Do I Know Which Size I Need for Hubcaps and Wheel Covers?

Before deciding on the right one for your vehicle, you will need to know the proper size. Thankfully, the size of your wheel covers is easy to figure out. If you have fourteen-inch tires, you will need fourteen-inch wheel covers. 

The same applies if you plan to purchase hubcaps. Just look at your tire size. The size should be specified on the sidewall of the tire. Purchase a hubcap in the same size. 

I Lost a Wheel Cover or Hubcap. Do I Have to Purchase an OEM Replacement?

Unfortunately, losing a hubcap or wheel cover happens. Over time, the connections can loosen, or you can hit a bump in the road hard enough to knock them loose. 

While car manufacturers would undoubtedly like us to believe we must replace all parts with OEM options, this is not the case. 

If you purchase replica wheel covers or hubcaps, you are going to save substantial amounts of money. You will probably find you can purchase a full set for around the same price as a single OEM replacement. 

If you are truly concerned about having an OEM replacement, you can often pick one up through used auto part stores online or even at a local junkyard. Many owners decide to purchase a full set of aftermarket wheel covers or hubcaps so they can upgrade the look of their vehicles. 

What Are Bolt-On Wheel Covers?

On very few vehicle models, bolt-on wheel covers are available. Owners often prefer these because they stay in place better than the clip-on types. You will need to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see what type of wheel cover you need. The best wheel cover should fit your wheel like a glove. 

How Do You Install Wheel Covers?

Most wheel covers today use a wire retention system that holds the cover in place. Most wire retention system wheel covers can be installed in a vehicle with no tools. All you need to do is place pressure on one side and slowly move the wheel cover into place, checking to ensure it is secure. 

How Do I Know If a Different Hubcap or Wheel Cover Will Work with My Vehicle?

You can rest easy knowing that most hubcaps and wheel covers are interchangeable among different vehicles as long as you purchase the same size as your tire size. 

The only time you might have trouble is if you have an 80s model vehicle. A lot of these have thirteen-inch wheels, so you may find it highly difficult to purchase new wheel covers or hubcaps unless you purchase from a retro specialty retailer. 

What If I Only Need One Wheel Cover or Hubcap? Can I Buy Just One?

In most cases, yes, you can purchase a single hubcap or wheel cover, but be advised-no dealer is going to promise you will get a perfect match. In fact, your new hubcap or wheel cover might stand out like a sore thumb when compared to your other wheels. After you have chosen the best hubcap, you sure don’t want to have your wheels looking mismatched. 

Choose the Right One for Your Vehicle

Now, you should be armed with all the information you need to make a perfect choice for your vehicle. Whether you choose a wheel cover or a hubcap, getting the right size is essential. When it comes to hubcap vs wheel cover, you need to choose based on which one will offer the highest level of protection and style.