My Chevvy Cavalier is now 5 years old. It’s held up pretty well, with one exception: the hub caps.
The stock hub caps are held on with plastic lug nuts that screw over the wheel’s lug nuts. Over the years, I’ve removed the tires several times, and on ocassion I’ve over-tightened those plastic lug nuts.
It didn’t take long before the plastic lug nuts started cracking and falling off. Last month, I noticed that my front hub caps each had one plastic nut left. I knew it was time to replace them.
Where to Get Wheel Covers
Although I could have ordered some stock hub caps from Chevvy, I wasn’t too impressed with them. They aren’t particularly pretty, and the plastic lug nuts just seemed too prone to breakage.
Instead, I went to Wal Mart and picked up some inexpensive wheel covers. They had a large selection to choose from.
For my 2003 Chevvy Cavalier, I needed a 15″ wheel cover with five lug nuts. They had one that looked right, and sure enough it was a match for my wheel. The set of four covers cost me a little over $15.00.
If you think you’re wheels are a different size, you can double check the size – it’s listed on the side of your tire. You’ll see a long number/letter combination – mine is P195/65R15. The last two digits (in this case 15) will tell you the size in inches of your wheel.
Tools You’ll Need
You won’t need many tools for this job. If your hub caps haven’t already flown off, you’ll need an appropriate socket wrench or the lug wrench that’s stowed with your spare tire.
You may also need a hammer of some sort. A rubber mallet would be best – so that it doesn’t damage the new wheel cover – but you could get by with a regular hammer and some padding.
Remove the Old Hub Caps
Start by removing the old hub caps. Loosen the five plastic lug nuts with the lug wrench. One turn of the wrench should loosen them enough for you to hand loosen them the rest of the way.
Once you’ve removed the five lug nuts, the hub cap should come off effortlessly.
Prepare the New Wheel Cover
Unlike the hub cap, the wheel cover is held in by tension. A metal ring goes inside the wheel cover, pushing a series of latches outward into the wheel.
If you lay the wheel cover on the ground upside-down, you should see four or five prongs extending from the wheel cover. On the inside, there will be a notch. Take the metal ring that came with your wheel cover and gently push it into that notch.
Be careful to line up the cutout for the tire’s air valve on the metal ring and the wheel cover.
You’ll have to apply some outward pressure to the latches so that the ring will fit, but it will eventually snap snugly into place.
Place the Wheel Cover On Your Car
Now you’re ready to place the wheel cover on the car.
Line up the cutout in the wheel cover with the air valve on your tire. Then, rest the bottom of the wheel cover on the tire – placing the bottom latch in its place.
Using an even and steady amount of force, push the wheel cover into place. You may have to push the latches in towards the center of the wheel cover while you apply pressure on the wheel cover.
If the wheel cover isn’t inserting all the way, use your hammer or rubber mallet to gently knock it into place. When you feel the wheel cover snap into place, it’s done!
Check Your Work and Do the Other Three Tires
You can check to make sure that the wheel cover is installed correctly simply by pulling on it. Pull gently on the wheel cover. If it doesn’t move, then it’s installed tightly and correctly.
If you need to remove the wheel covers, just tug on them hard. You may need to jerk them a bit to apply enough pressure to pull them out. That’s ok though – it’s that tension that holds them in when you’re driving!
Now finish up by installing the wheel covers on the other three wheels.