Can You Drive Without Wheel Covers?


Despite being visible from the outside, wheel covers are among the most neglected car parts. You’re not likely to think about them until they fall off, get damaged, or require replacement. Is it safe to drive without wheel covers even if you lose one or two parts?

Yes, it is possible to drive without wheel covers. Their primary function is cosmetic; they conceal the lug nuts and rims while protecting them from dust and damage. Aside from that, wheel covers serve no other purpose. Put simply, you can drive your car without wheel covers, but your car’s appearance might not be the same as it would be with wheel covers.

Are Wheel Covers called Hubcaps?

A car wheel cover is commonly referred to as simply a wheel cover. Many people, however, refer to them as hubcaps and use both terms interchangeably. These two parts serve the same purpose: to make the wheel aesthetically pleasing while protecting the wheel and lug nuts.

Both of those parts, however, differ in terms of how much of the wheel’s surface they cover. Wheel covers enclose the entire diameter of the wheel, whereas hub caps only cover the center portion of the wheel (hence the name ‘hub’ cap) and thus conceal the lug nuts.

Both of these car parts attach to the wheel in the same way, so there is no difference in that regard.

Let’s look at the hubcaps and wheel covers’ definitions to clarify things. You may be wondering how rims fit into all of this, so I will define them as well.

Wheel Covers, Hub Caps, and Rims

Wheel covers are accessories that cover the entire circumference of the wheel. They perform the same functions as hub caps but enclose and protect a larger portion of the wheel’s surface.

They are simple to install and remove because they are attached directly to the car’s rims. Furthermore, wheel covers are generally universal. This means you can quickly swap car wheel covers from one vehicle to another if they are the same size.

You can’t do this with hub caps.

Hub caps are those attachments that cover only the center of the wheel and not the entire diameter. Initially, manufacturers made hub caps out of gleaming metal. Cars that still have them today use cheaper plastic versions.

Hub caps are becoming less popular as people prefer well-designed expressive wheels that look good even when exposed without any covers. Nonetheless, the term “hub cap” lives on, as many people use it synonymously with “wheel cover.”

Rims are the round metal pieces around which tires wrap. These round metal pieces are also the parts that attach to the car and are secured with lug nuts. Metal rims, such as steel or alloy, are available on the offline or online marketplace.

In the context of this article, the rims are where you would attach wheel covers or hub caps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the function of Wheel Covers?

Wheel covers serve two functions. First, they protect the entire radius of the wheel from dust particles and external damage. Lug nuts are also protected because they are hidden behind the wheel covers.

Second, wheel covers enhance the appearance of the vehicle’s wheels. They conceal the lug nuts as well as the metal rims. Consequently, the cover provides a smooth, flat surface for the wheel.

As an added bonus, wheel covers are a simple and adaptable way to personalize the look of your vehicle. These covers are simple to install and remove without using any tools. This means you can buy several different wheel covers and swap them out whenever you want.

Can I Drive Without a Hub Cap?

Yes, it is possible to drive without a hub cap. Remember that hub caps are accessories for your wheels, not essential components. As a result, they play no vital role in the proper operation of the wheels or your car.

So, you can still drive your car even if you remove your hub caps or they fall off accidentally.

Can Hub caps fall off?

Yes! hubcaps can fall off. Despite the fact that they are securely attached to the wheels, they are not bolted. That means that with brute force, hub caps can fall off while driving, and you won’t notice.

For example, you may unintentionally drive into a large pothole, causing your tires to pop the hub cap off.

That is why people are so careful to avoid hitting potholes on the road. Drivers do this to protect not only their vehicle’s rims but also their hub caps.

To reduce the chances of this happening, always ensure that your hub caps are properly installed. It also helps to buy high-quality hub caps that will stay in place much better than cheaper units.

Are Hub Caps Universal?

Yes! Hub caps are universal and can be used on matching tire sizes. For example, you can swap hubcaps between two cars that use standard 16-inch wheels. Those hub caps, however, will not fit on 18-inch wheels, even if they are from the same vehicle.


In summary, the Wheel cover will not stop you from driving your car. They are just added accessories to protect and add visual aesthetics to the vehicle. Hub caps are similar to wheel covers. The only difference is that hub caps cover a lesser portion of the wheel.