When outfitting your semi, you look for a balance of value, performance and style. And nothing puts the polish on your rig quite like chrome – even down to your semi truck axle covers and hubcaps. Maybe you’ve put off these upgrades or you’re wondering if wheel covers are worth the price. This quick guide can help you figure out your options and choose the best ones for your rig.
Importance of Wheel Covers
Many truck drivers wonder, “Are wheel covers necessary?” To answer this question, let’s look at their key benefits. The most obvious purpose they serve is keeping your wheels cleaner by shielding them from dirt, road debris, salt and the elements. With such a small investment, your wheels stay looking pristine for much longer.
There’s no question that wheel covers can also upgrade your rig’s looks – with so many styles on the market, you’re sure to find some that match your aesthetics. From sleek chrome to gorgeous black powder coat, there are seemingly endless wheel cover options from top industry brands like Alcoa.
What may not be so obvious are the aerodynamic benefits of wheel and axle covers. Think of it this way: Most rims and drive axles are bowl-shaped with somewhat convex designs. Imagine how much air can get trapped inside – and that can use up valuable fuel. You’ll find many wheel cover designs that can help reduce drag and air resistance. As a result, they improve your rig’s fuel economy.
When To Change Your Hubcaps & Axle Covers
Installing a new set of axle covers and hubcaps for semis instantly upgrades your truck’s looks. They go the distance with you, offering mile after mile of solid on-the-road performance. Regular upkeep also extends their useful lifespans – using specially formulated wheel cleaners removes dust and stains from their finishes. But how do you know when to change your hubcaps and axle covers?
Like many other exterior parts, your hubcaps’ and axle covers’ lifespans can vary widely. An OTR driver clocking 125,000 miles per year may need replacements sooner than someone driving only 50,000 miles annually. So, the appearance and structural integrity of your axle covers and hubcaps are the best indicators of whether or not they should be replaced. Dulled finishes, broken pieces, scratches and the like are all signs that you need to swap them out.
How To Change Them
Replacing your hubcaps and semi truck axle covers are simple processes. Hubcaps tend to come in three different styles: pop-on, bolt-on and screw-on. Before you remove your hubcaps, make sure your truck is parked on a flat surface and you’ve put down wheel chocks to keep it in place.
Many designed for semi trucks are the pop-on type, so they’re pretty easy to install and remove. You can just use a couple of wide-end flat screwdrivers to gently loosen the hubcap until it pops loose on its own. A handy device like the hub cap mounting tool will save your hub caps from unintentional damage, and makes the installation process even easier. Screw-on caps attach via nuts to your truck’s existing lugs: You just need to unscrew the nuts, swap out the cap and reattach the nuts.
Bolt-on hubcaps are a little trickier to replace. You’ll need to use your wrench to remove their lug nuts, but loosen every other lug nut first. After they’re all loose, you’ll take off the lug nuts and washers, swap out the hubcap and tighten each nut – again, working in an opposite pattern as before. You’ll use a similar process on your axle covers as well.
More Options for Equipping Your Rig
Besides wheel covers, nut covers are another great way to add a little something “extra” to your truck’s style. Most models either thread on or push onto the wheel, so they’re quick and easy to install. Either as replacements or subtle style upgrades, they’re inexpensive and worthwhile investments.