When Sprucing Up Your Old Ride, Wheel Covers Can Do a Lot

Upgrade those ugly stock steel wheels with affordable covers.

byAndra DelMonico| UPDATED Dec 21, 2021 9:17 AM
When Sprucing Up Your Old Ride, Wheel Covers Can Do a Lot
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Just because you drive an older car doesn’t mean you are stuck with a lame-looking ride. Wheel covers, better known as hubcaps, can cover your wheels with an affordable facelift. Newer car owners don’t have this problem; low-cost alloy wheels have almost completely replaced old-school ugly steel wheels. If you have alloy wheels, these hubcaps are not what you are looking for to change the look of your vehicle. If you still have steel wheels on your car, truck, or SUV, adding hubcaps can upgrade, modernize, and protect your steel wheels. However, not all wheel covers are built the same or use the same attachment system. I did the research to help you find the perfect set for your car, budget, and style.

Our Methodology

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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You don’t have to drive the latest model or an expensive luxury brand; we are here for all car enthusiasts and want to help everyone find the best products for their vehicles. Steel wheels leave a lot to be desired, and hubcaps or wheel covers can both improve the look of your vehicle while also protecting the wheels. I focused on choosing wheel covers that had broad compatibility to ensure they could fit the majority of reader’s vehicles. I also narrowed down the list to wheel covers that look attractive, adding a modern take to this classic aftermarket part. 

With each choice, I stayed true to The Drive’s methodology for testing products with a real-world experience in mind while considering expert opinions and user reviews. I prioritized well-known brands with an established history of producing quality products. 

Best Wheel Covers Reviews & Recommendations

If you’re searching for something different, something less common, the Cover Trend Black Matte Aftermarket Snap-On Wheel Covers will deliver. This set of four 16-inch wheel covers looks completely different from your typical standard hub caps as with a cool black matte finish, these accessories will take your car’s appearance to new heights.


These wheel covers are said to fit Nissan Altima and Quest vehicles, but thanks to their widely-used 16-inch size, they should be able to fit other car wheels, too. They offer an almost universal fit for both domestic and foreign vehicles. However, if you do own a Nissan that’s in need of upgraded hub caps, you’ll get the perfect fit from these stylish aftermarket covers. Made from high-quality materials and protected with a durable finish over their exterior, these covers will give you a long lifespan.


Product Specs

  • Size: 16 inches 
  • Type: Clip-on
  • Material: ABS plastic

Pros

  • Matte finish 
  • Black
  • Chrome-plated lug nuts 
  • Multi-spoke design

Cons

  • Meant for the Nissan Altima and Quest
  • Can see the retention rings

Your wheel covers face a lot of exposure to damage on the road, and that’s why a durable option like the Pilot Automotive Universal Fit Spyder Wheel Cover is our top choice. Upgrading your current covers with these will make your car more stylish and sleek. You’ll also be choosing an accessory that’s built to last many miles.


The Spyder wheel cover is engineered to fit right over your original wheel, and it’ll fit almost any make and model. It’s suitable for Chevrolet, Kia, Toyota, Honda, Ford, and plenty of other automakers’ cars. Made out of tough ABS material, each cover is weather-resistant and able to stand up against the harsh heat and freezing temperatures. Once you’ve installed this wheel cover, you’ll be able to rely on its fit. With an adjustable retention system, you’ll achieve an almost custom fit on your wheel.


Product Specs

  • Size: 15 inches
  • Type: Clip-on
  • Material: ABS plastic

Pros

  • Adjustable retention ring 
  • Micro-adjustable retention system
  • Works on most foreign and domestic vehicles
  • Universal fitment

Cons

  • Silver finish doesn’t look like metal 
  • Can easily scratch

If your factory hub caps are boring and don’t draw any attention, you can turn to the Alpena VR Carbon Wheel Cover Kit for more style. These sleek, upgraded wheel covers, which come in a set of four to kit out all of your wheels, look cool, and give your wheels a sporty look and feel. Designed with both style and durability in mind, each cover features a thick multi-spoke design, made out of top-tier materials and finished with a sporty carbon texture and a satin gunmetal finish. Though they look like metal, the covers are actually made out of a tough ABS plastic. Sized for 16-inch wheels, they’ll suit plenty of different vehicle makes and models. When it comes to fit and installation, it’s a snap — literally. Built with a three-step retention system and adjustable inner rings, you’ll get a tight fit for most cars’ steel wheels. 


There’s just one potential drawback to these wheel covers: you may need a little more grip from the three-step retention system. Some wheels may need extra steps like electrical tape for a more secure fit.


Product Specs

  • Size: 15 and 16 inches 
  • Type: Clip-on
  • Material: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

Pros

  • Adjustable three-step ring system 
  • Look of carbon fiber detailing 
  • Sporty design
  • Hides bolts 

Cons

  • Can fall off easily 
  • Hard to get a secure fit

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular vehicles on the road and if your Camry’s hub caps aren’t looking great, the Carolina Wheel Cover OEM Toyota Wheel Cover is exactly what you need. This wheel cover is actually an OEM Toyota part made for Camrys, so it can provide the same level of quality, fit, and function as your original hub caps. This Carolina wheel cover offers the same classic style and appearance as your original wheels. It is a professionally reconditioned OEM Toyota wheel cover, which means the genuine factory covers have been cleaned, had blemishes fixed or repaired, and then finished to achieve a look that’s equal to (or even better than) the original factory appearance.


Just keep in mind that this wheel cover isn’t part of a set; it’s sold as a sole, individual part. You’ll have to purchase four to cover all of your wheels.


Product Specs

  • Size: 16  inches 
  • Type: Clip-on
  • Material: ABS plastic

Pros

  • Baked-on finish 
  • Includes hubcap
  • Less resistant to cracking or coming loose
  • OEM design and quality  

Cons

  • Toyota specific cover
  • Sold as a single cover and not a set of four
Best Stainless Steel Construction
Phoenix USA Stainless Steel Wheel Covers

Trucks can require hardier, tougher parts and a set of Phoenix USA Stainless Steel Wheel Covers can provide you with the increased durability you need. These snap-on style wheel covers are built tougher than your average car hub caps, and they can provide you with a classic sense of style and long-term hardiness.


While many wheel covers are made out of ABS, these covers are crafted out of stainless steel and won’t rust or corrode with special protective rolled edge around each cover for increased strength and security. Each cover is designed for 16-inch wheels and an eight-lug design. Made to be used on trucks, these covers will suit makes and models like Ford F350s, any Chevrolet or GMC trucks with a G body, and both two-wheel and four-wheel drive Dodge trucks. Just double-check sizing to make sure the covers will suit your specific truck.


Product Specs

  • Size: 16 inches 
  • Type: Snap-on
  • Material: Stainless steel 

Pros

  • High shine finish 
  • Won’t rust 
  • Easy to clean 
  • Eight lug design 

Cons

  • Centers do not stay secure in cold weather 
  • Not quite as nice-looking as the OEM alternative 
Best Universal Compatibility
AutoCraft Car & SUV Wheel Cover

Choosing weather-ready wheel covers doesn’t mean you have to be boring with your style, just take a look at the AutoCraft Car & SUV Wheel Cover. This set of four glossy black wheel covers is impressively cool and can reinvigorate its style with these covers.


They’re also highly durable as each 17-inch cover is made out of high-impact ABS plastic, which makes them prepared for rain, sunlight, snow, and all kinds of dirt and debris. They’ll stand up to all kinds of challenges on the road, too, thanks to their impact-resistant nature. When it comes to installation, it’s quick and easy. You’ll get a secure, grippy fit with the patented adjustable retention ring used for each cover.


Product Specs

  • Size: 17 inches
  • Type: Clip-on
  • Material: ABS plastic

Pros

  • Glossy black finish
  • Adjustable retention ring
  • Fits 95 percent of all foreign and domestic steel wheels
  • Dual grooves for small and large wheels 

Cons

  • Design not ideal for cars 
  • Wire can pop out of the groove

The Coast to Coast Imposter Series Wheel Cover is a product that offers you options. This cover doesn’t just come in one style or spoke design; it’s available in an array of finishes and colors. Made to fit any set of 17-inch wheels, each set of four-wheel covers can provide you with an almost custom look and feel. If it’s different options you’re searching for, the Coast to Coast cover selection has it.


No matter what finish you choose, each of these wheel cover sets is designed and manufactured to offer a secure wheel fit. They’re simple to install and will stay in place over many miles. These covers are constructed with automotive-grade ABS plastic for durability. Finished with dual layers of clear coat to enhance their shine and protect their coloring, they look good even with wear and tear. Each set is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, too.


Product Specs

  • Size: 17 inches
  • Type: Spoke retention
  • Material: ABS plastic

Pros

  • Fits OEM wheels 
  • Long-lasting finish
  • Easy to install
  • Dual-layer clear coat

Cons

  • Lack a clean design with holes for bolts 
  • Plain spoke design

Our Verdict

My top pick for the best wheel covers went to the Cover Trend Black Matte Aftermarket Snap-On Wheel Covers because they have a bold modern style and durable matte finish. If you need a more budget-friendly option, the Pilot Automotive Universal Fit Spyder Wheel Cover won’t let you down with a universal fit for broad compatibility.

What to Consider When Buying Wheel Covers

When buying a set of wheel covers for your vehicle, most come in a set of four. This seems silly, but always check to make sure you know what you are buying. Your chosen set needs to be the right size for your wheels, have a style that you like, and are made from a durable material. Getting these features right will ensure you have a set of wheel covers that are both safe to use and long-lasting.

Types of Wheel Covers

Clip-On

This is one of the most common types of aftermarket wheel covers on the market. There is a simple slot and groove system that comes as a part of the backside of the cover. It is quick and easy to snap into place. You may find that this method is harder to get a perfect fit because they are made with a generic design for broad compatibility. You can use electrical tape to reduce the wiggle and create a tighter fit. Over time, UV rays can weaken the ABS plastic and cause it to crack or break.

Bolt-On

This is the second most popular type of attachment method for aftermarket wheel covers. Each wheel cover comes with a set of bolts and lug nuts. When installed correctly, they are more secure than clips. However, when done incorrectly, they are less secure. When buying bolt-on wheel covers, make sure it’s compatible with your specific wheel and lug nut pattern. The installation process is more complicated because you can’t simply snap the wheel cover on. You’ll need to jack the car up and remove the lug nut on the wheel so that you can place the wheel cover on and then bolt everything down.

OEM

More often seen on low-cost and older vehicles, OEM wheel covers are those that come on the vehicle straight from the manufacturer. They look, feel, perform, and attach in the same manner as aftermarket wheel covers. They are typically the bolt-on method because this helps them to be more integrated into the vehicle, and it’s a design that the majority of car owners are familiar with. However, they tend to lack in the looks and style department when compared to new vehicles that have styled wheels without the use of hubcaps.

Wheel Covers Key Features

Size

Because the wheel cover is meant to cover the entire wheel, you need to know the size of your wheels when ordering your wheel covers. Both hubcaps and wheel covers come in sizes that are measured in inches to match wheels. For example, they come in 14, 15, 16, and 17 inches. Therefore, narrow down your search to the size of your wheels so that you only consider those that are compatible. Additionally, the bolt pattern should match if you decide to buy this type of wheel cover. This is typically done by counting the number of bolts that encircle the hub.

Style

Just as we all have different tastes in vehicles, the same goes for the wheels that they roll on. Thankfully, wheel covers come in a wide range of colors and designs. This lets you choose the perfect set for your vehicle. The simplest of covers are a plain silver grey in a classic five-spoke design. Fancier designs include colored pinstriping accents, carbon fiber inlays, and multi-spoke designs. Don’t forget to think about the style and looks of your car; the covers you choose should complement and enhance the look of your ride.

Construction Material

The majority of wheel covers are made from ABS plastic. This material is a great option because it’s lightweight and durable. It’s also affordable, making it friendly on your wallet. The drawback of plastic is that it eventually succumbs to the elements. UV rays can fade the color or cause the plastic to become brittle and susceptible to cracking. Another material option is metal, such as aluminum or stainless steel. These are more durable than metal but can weigh more. Metal can also be harder to repair should it become scratched or dented. Aluminum is lighter than steel and also corrosion-resistant. Stainless steel can be heavy but also the strongest, making it the most protective.

Wheel Covers Pricing 

You can find a basic set of four hubcaps for around $50. They will have some style and design, making them perfect for someone looking for a little improvement. The wheel covers in this price range tend to be made from ABS plastic. Wheels also get more expensive as they get bigger. So ABS wheel covers that are 14 inches cost less than $40, 15 inches are under $50, and under 16 inches are under $60. Larger wheels that are 17, 18, or 19 inches will be around $100. If you’re looking for something a bit more durable, there are also stainless steel wheel covers. These tend to cost $100 or more, although you’ll find that these covers lack style.

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and wheel covers. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Avoid hitting potholes because they are the most common reason for wheel covers falling off.
  • You can paint ABS plastic wheel covers to give them a custom look. Use automotive spray paint for a more professional-looking finish. Use multiple thin coats for a more durable finish.
  • Fix curb rash on your ABS plastic wheel covers by wet sanding the scrapes out. Start with a rougher grit like 800, then gradually get finer to 2,000 grit until smooth.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: What are wheel covers called?

A: You might hear wheel covers called hubcaps. They are similar but technically different. A hubcap covers the center of the wheel but can sometimes be larger. A wheel cover extends to the edge of the wheel to cover the entire face.

Q: Is a wheel and a rim the same thing?

A: People use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. People often use the word “rim” to describe aftermarket wheels. However, the rim is one part of the wheel. It’s the outside edge of the wheel where the tire sits.

Q: How do I keep my wheel covers from falling off?

A: Clean off any lubrication before securing your new hubcap. Secure the clips that come with the hubcap correctly. Try wrapping the clips with electrical tape to create a tighter fit. Finally, it isn’t a pretty solution, but using cable ties can keep the hubcap on the wheel.