A wheel cover is also called a hubcap or wheel trim and is a decorative disk on an automobile wheel that covers a minimum the central portion of the wheel. Cars which use the stamped steel wheels a lot use a full wheel cover that cover up the entire wheel. Cars which use alloy wheels or stylish steel wheels generally use smaller hubcaps, at times called center caps. A wheel cover is an accessory covering an external rear-mounted standby tire found on some vehicles.
Earlier hubcaps were very small, and sometimes purely covering the greased wheel bearing. These snap onto bulges of the wheel, and then to change the wheel they are pried off with a tool which resembles a very large slotted-tip screwdriver. These differs from the spinners that serves the same purpose for racing cars and those cars with those wire wheels, which were intended to be quickly unthreaded by hand. Hubcaps were once manufactured from chrome-plated steel or stainless steel.
Wood or many fitted metal parts were used to make wheel in olden days. The pressed steel wheels became common by the 1940s, and these were often painted the same color as the car body. Next advancements came in the form of the specialty wheels of magnesium or aluminum alloy, and wheel covers were a cheap means of imitating the styling of those. Plastic wheel covers also known as wheel trims were manufactured in the 1970s and became mainstream in the 1980s. Plastic has chiefly replaced steel as the primary material for manufacturing hubcaps/trims, and where the steel wheels are still used, they are now painted black so that the wheel is less visible through cutouts in the wheel trim. Now a day, full-wheel hubcaps are most commonly seen on budget models and base trim levels, while fashionable and performance oriented sedans have alloy wheels.
The trademark or symbol of the maker of the automobile or the maker of the hubcap is etched in it. The hubcaps earlier were often chrome plated, and many had decorative, non-functional spokes. The major trouble of hubcaps is that on rough bumpy roads they have a weakness of falling off due to hitting a bump. In southwest U.S., and in Mexico, there were lots of automotive garages whose stockade were decorated with all sorts of hubcaps that had fallen off in the surrounding area and were put for sale.
Hubcaps by and large use either clip-on retention, where some type of spring clip engages a channel in the wheel, or bolt-on retention, where a threaded fastener retains the hubcap. Clip-on hubcaps have a propensity to pop off suddenly when the wheel bangs a pothole or curbstone, while bolt-on hubcaps are more likely to vibrate loose over time, and tend to rattle and whine.
In order to prevent such loss, many users attach plastic wheel trims to the wheel itself by means of an electrical zip tie, which are available for sale in a silver color for this very purpose. Enterprising producers also sell a small kit consisting of standby zip ties, a pair of cutting pliers and latex gloves to allow a trim thus secured to be detached easily in the event of a puncture.