CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

1990 Cadillac DeVille - Hub cap issues

The hubcaps turn on the wheel, causing the stems to be bent over and
sometimes leak. Also, cannot check air pressure without removing hubcaps.
We have tried bending the metal fasteners and putting Gorilla tape onto
the metal fins to make them thicker.

The car is nearly 30 years old. Factory parts are not available to replace your hubcaps with new… and that is the only solution.

You can solve this forever by replacing the wheels with aluminum ones with no hub caps.

1 Like

Wouldn’t the cheaper option be to simply remove the hub caps entirely . . . ?

:smirk:

1 Like

That’s one of the reasons why police/highway patrol cars don’t have wheel covers.

They have hub caps.

https://www.discounttire.com/learn/difference-between-rims-wheels-hubcaps

Tester

1 Like

You could try applying paint to the areas of the wheel cover where they mate up to the rim. This might make the clearance smaller and the friction enough to keep them where you put them. I did this same sort of thing to prevent my classic truck’s outside mirror from moving when I hit a bump and its working well. Rather than spraying the paint directly, I sprayed it into the lid, then hand painted the place I needed extra friction using an artists paint-brush.

I have seen bolt on spiders at Pep Boys that will hold wheel covers on cars. Yoy remove 3 lug nuts to bolt the spiders on but I don’t know if they will hold all covers.

I looked at them when I was thinking of putting moon discs on a PT Cruiser. I know they are much maligned cars but the only repair I had on mine in 7 1/2 years was 1 wheel bearing.

My neighbor has 2 of them . . .

None of them are running . . . but that’s because they don’t take care of their stuff

I had that problem with the wire wheel covers on my Rivieras. Those tabs get weak and there is virtually no way to make them hold again. I got replacements from the junk yard that didn’t have as many miles on and they were fine. So you need to either remove them or get a replacement set. There are places that sell just hub caps or try a junk yard search but it’s at the age where new ones will be hard to come by and not cheap.

2 Likes

That is because the valve stems are too short.
Any tire shop can install valve stems of the appropriate length.

I wonder if loctite on the tabs would hold them in place.

Those wire wheel style wheel covers were a real pain, customers would brush against a curb, the wheel cover would rotate a bit and the valve stem would disappear. Then when the car is taken in for service the technician has to locate the wheel cover key to remove it to inflate the tire(s).

Naw, it’s because the wheel cover rotates on the wheel. So you start out with the valve in the access hole, but then the cover rotates so it is bent or no longer visible. If you somehow locked the valve in place, when the cover rotated it would break the valve stem off. No cure except a new cover or if you could find a supplier of new clips.

Yes, but there were cars years ago that came from the factory with valve stems that were too short.
I can recall CR commenting on some models that–bizarrely–required the removal of the wheel covers in order to check the air pressure.

I think that this is dual problem.

1 Like

I also think part of the problem was with larger cars that flexed the steel wheels as they went around corners, like this. That’s why I doubt lock tite would work.

When you got tires sometimes they would install the short stems instead of the longer ones. Still you just bought the screw on extensions for them for a few bucks. You could get plastic or metal ones. The tire guys didn’t like them though because they didn’t have caps on the valve and could freeze up in the winter. Whatever. Don’t have to worry about that with mags now, just trying to lift the things.

I wonder if metal valve stems would be strong enough to keep the wheel covers from rotating.

Very doubtful. There is a lot of centrifugal force on them or combination of the weight of the cover. I had the locking type and you could crank those down as tight as you could and they’d still rotate.