How to remove the center cap

Written by tim petruccio
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How to remove the center cap
The centre cap on this wheel only covers the hub and axle nut portion of the wheel assembly. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Center caps are placed at the centre of a wheel to cover the hub and intricate parts of the wheel assembly. Some centre caps measure only a couple of inches in diameter, while others cover a larger area of the wheel. Center caps on wheels are where most car manufacturers or aftermarket wheel manufacturers place their logos or company names. There are five basic styles of centre caps, and removal of each style is different from one another.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Pry bar
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Allen key set
  • Hammer
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • 1/4-inch ratchet and socket set with 9-inch extension adaptor
  • 2-ton or greater capacity jack
  • 1 jack stand
  • 1 bottle PB Blaster or penetrating spray

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Instructions

    Center Cap Removal: Flat Faced with a Notch

  1. 1

    Visually inspect the wheel face and locate the notch in between the centre cap and the wheel. The notch is designed for easier removal of the centre cap. Some flat face wheels have a bolt holding them on for added security. Remove any bolts, using an Allen key set, a Phillips head screwdriver or the provided wheel key that came with the wheel.

  2. 2

    Insert a small pry bar or flathead screwdriver into the notch, between the centre cap and the wheel.

  3. 3

    Gently pry the centre cap free by pushing the handle of the pry bar or flathead screwdriver toward the wheel.

    Center Cap Removal: Standard Pop In Center Cap

  1. 1

    Lift the front of the vehicle in the location of the wheel you wish to remove, using a 2-ton or greater capacity jack. Place a jack stand beneath the lower control arm or axle housing, just behind the wheel you are working on. Remove the wheel and tire assembly completely from the car.

  2. 2

    Place the handle end of a screwdriver into the back side of the wheel, until it rests against the rear of the centre cap. Some pop in centre caps are flush-mounted with the face of the wheel, whereas others protrude and add to the design of the wheel.

  3. 3

    Gently tap the metal end of the screwdriver until it forces the centre cap to pop off of the wheel.

    Center Cap Removal: Bolt on Center Caps

  1. 1

    Lift the vehicle off of the ground at the location of the wheel you wish to work on, using a 2-ton or greater capacity jack. Place a jack stand beneath the lower control arm or axle housing, just behind the wheel you are going to work on. Remove the wheel completely from the vehicle.

  2. 2

    Insert a Phillips head screwdriver into the back side of the rim, and insert it into one of the three centre cap mounting bolts. Some wheels use steel centre caps and bolts, and may be too rusted to use a Phillips head screwdriver. For these wheels, use a small portion of PB Blaster or penetrating spray, a 1/4-inch drive ratchet and socket and a 9-inch extension for your ratchet.

  3. 3

    Turn the bolts counterclockwise until all three mounting bolts have been removed. Bolt-on centre caps will always have three mounting bolts or two mounting bolts and a guide pin protruding from the rear of the wheel. Remove all three bolts and push the centre cap through the wheel from front to back.

    Center Cap Removal: Chrome Spoke Style and Knockoff Style Center Caps

  1. 1

    Visually locate the mounting bolt holes at the base of the centre cap, where it meets the wheel. Many chrome spoke wheels and knock-off style wheels utilise a bolt at the base, which acts as a locking mechanism for the centre cap. There is a protruding lip on the wheel, which the centre cap slides over and is locked to for added security.

  2. 2

    Insert an Allen key at the base of the centre cap, into the mounting hole.

  3. 3

    Remove the mounting screw by turning the Allen key counterclockwise. Pull the centre cap off with your hand once you have removed the mounting screw.

    Center Cap Removal: Push Thru Center Caps

  1. 1

    Lift the vehicle off of the ground at the location of the wheel you wish to work on, using a 2-ton or greater capacity jack. Place a jack stand beneath the lower control arm or axle housing, just behind the wheel you are going to work on. Remove the wheel completely from the vehicle.

  2. 2

    Spray PB blaster or penetrating spray onto the back side of the wheel near the centre.

  3. 3

    Push the centre cap from front to back using your hand. Lightly use the side of your fist if the centre cap still gives you resistance. If light force will not work, use a flat head screwdriver to pry the centre cap free from the back side of the wheel.

Tips and warnings

  • If you happen to break a centre cap during the removal process, don't worry. Salvage yards stock wheel covers and centre caps for many types of vehicles. If you have custom rims, simply call the manufacturer with the type of rim or the name of the rim to get a new centre cap.
  • Always make sure that you have removed all of the mounting hardware on your centre cap, prior to attempting removal. Failure to adhere to this warning could cause the centre cap to become permanently lodged in the wheel, or cause costly damage to the wheel itself.

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