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How to change wheel trims

Updated April 17, 2017

Sometimes a car isn't complete without the flash and style of speciality wheel trim. Also known as hubcaps or wheel covers, the wheel trim is the decorative disk in the centre of your car tire that helps to cover the unattractive, often greasy, centre of your wheel. If you are looking to bring some class to your car, or just replace a missing hubcap, installing new wheel trim may be your ticket to elegance.

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  1. Look on the wall of your car tire. Around the edge will be a set of numbers. At the end of this set you will see an R followed by a number between 13 and 17. This number will be the size of your new hubcap if you want to purchase a new style of trim.

  2. Remove the hubcap. Firmly gripping the sides, pull the hubcap away from the tire. If the wheel trim does not come off of the tire, use the socket wrench in your tire-changing kit to remove the bolt closest to the air valve or pry off gently with a screwdriver.

  3. Look at the back of the hubcap. There will be a number between 7 and 15 characters long. This is the part identification number if you want to replace the hubcap with the same trim you currently have.

  4. Order your hubcaps. You can purchase hubcaps through your local car dealership, auto-parts store or at an online speciality store (See References).

  5. Remove the old hubcaps. (See Step 2 in Section 1).

  6. Align the new hubcap. On the inner metal ring of your new hubcap, you will find a circular indent. Line this up with the tire valve.

  7. Push the new wheel trim in. The trim should snap in place.

  8. Test the trim to make sure it is properly installed by gently jiggling it. If the hubcap comes off, align it again and gently tap it in place.

  9. Check your hubcaps whenever you have work done on your car to make sure they were reinstalled properly.

  10. Keep your tires away from the curb. Brushing up against the curb can scratch your wheel trim or knock them loose.

  11. Inspect your tire. If the same hubcap keeps falling off, check the steel rim of your tire for grooves that may interfere with a secure fit of your wheel trim.

  12. Tip

    Purchase extra hubcaps in case you need to make future replacements.


    Do not remove all of the tire bolts when replacing hubcaps. These bolts are made to secure the tire and removing the bolts could cause the tire to fall off, injuring you and your vehicle.

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Things You'll Need

  • Flat screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • New wheel trim

About the Author

Heather Finch has been a freelance writer since the turn of the 21st century. Her official career began during her freshman year of college writing editorials about anything from manners to politics. Writings by Finch have appeared in the Western Herald, the Sturgis Journal and She has a bachelor's degree in creative writing and environmental studies.

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