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How to keep center caps from being stolen

Updated February 21, 2019

The centre cap of a vehicle's hub cap must be removed to loosen the lug nuts that hold the wheel in place. Center caps may contain the vehicle's brand name or logo, and are typically constructed of a durable plastic or aluminium. Because they can be easily removed by a thief, they are commonly stolen and sold on the secondary market. It is difficult to prevent them from being stolen, but you can buy and install a cap locking system to reduce the risk.

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  1. Purchase a centre cap locking system. These systems are sold at many aftermarket vehicle stores and rim shops. They are made by such brands as Caploc. They can be installed at automotive shops or you can do the work yourself.

  2. Remove the centre cap from one wheel and loosen one lug nut. Jack the wheel off the ground and put a jack stand under the vehicle's frame. Unscrew the lug nut fully.

  3. Drill a hole in the centre cap with a drill bit that corresponds to the cap's material. Place the ring that is found on end of the cable in the cap locking system over the lug nut. Tighten the lug nut back onto the stud over the ring.

  4. Insert the screw on the other end of the cable into the hole you drilled in the cap. Adjust the size of the hole to fit the screw, if required. Tighten the cable to ensure it runs taught between the screw and the lug nut.

  5. Remove the jack stand and lower the vehicle. Torque the lug nut you removed to the specifications in your vehicle's owner's manual and put the cap in place. Keep the key that fits the screw attached to the cable in a secure location, such as your key ring. From now on, you'll need to insert it into the screw and release the cable before you can remove your centre caps. Repeat the process on the other three wheels of your vehicle.

  6. Tip

    Park your vehicle in a well-lit, secure location both at home and in public, if you choose to leave your centre caps in place. At home, park in a locked garage, if possible. Otherwise, park next to your house and install motion-detecting lights that aim at your driveway. In public, park close to stores and other buildings. If parking at night, try to park as close as possible to a street light. Consider upgrading to rims, rather than hub caps. Many styles of rims do not have hub caps, and if you use a locknut on each wheel, thieves may leave your vehicle alone. Rims don't have to be flashy; rim shops sell a variety of rims that look suitable on every style and age of vehicle.


    Avoid using hub caps with fancy centre caps, especially if you've paid a considerable amount for them. These centre caps are easily noticeable by car thieves.

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Things You'll Need

  • Lug wrench
  • Car jack
  • Jack stand
  • Power drill
  • Torque wrench

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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