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Cars with No Hubcaps (Is Driving Without Wheel Covers Legal)

cars with no hubcaps

Have you noticed this trend? Cars with no hubcaps. What’s the deal?

For some time now, we’ve been seeing more cars going without wheel coverings. We guess it’s a silly thing to be preoccupied about.

After all it’s your car and your free to do with it whatever you wish (within the limits of the law of course).

But for those of us here in the dark, it’s a big mystery.

What is a Hubcap?

A scuffed up hubcap abandoned on the street.

The center of a wheel is attached to a car by nuts and bolts.

A hubcap is usually made of plastic and its entire job is to cover a steel wheel to make things look cleaner.

In other words, hubcaps are purely aesthetic.

Image of car rims

The other option is alloy wheels.

While they look nicer and do a better job of protecting your wheels (since it is the wheel), comparatively they’re more expensive than a steel wheel and a plastic hubcap.

Do You Need Hubcaps?

Mechanic replacing a hubcap on a car.

Some people might argue that wheel covers are necessary for warding off dust and debris from wheels and more importantly components like the brakes.

But then what does that say about beautiful alloy rims that leave the brakes purposefully exposed for aesthetic appeal?

Functionally, it’s hard to defend hubcaps – they don’t really seem to serve a purpose. They’re mostly for looks.

And how well they do that job is debatable since some cheaper hubcaps don’t look that great.

A bone yard full of hubcaps.

Certainly, if a car is missing one hubcap it tends to lower the perceived value of the car no matter what you’re driving.  

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And so, for some drivers it’s simply not worth replacing the missing hubcap, which is why they opt for removing the remaining hubcaps.

Understandable. Even practical.

Why Do Some Cars Come with Hubcaps?

An early model Honda Civic that looks beautiful without hubcaps.

A natural question then is, why do manufacturers even bother providing cars with hubcaps?

Especially when cars from the 80’s like certain Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas came with just the steel rims (steelies).

And they still look great.

From a manufacturing point of view, we understand that only selling cars with alloy rims means there wouldn’t be any lower cost options for buyers. But then why not just go back to the steelies?

Is It Illegal to Drive Without Hubcaps?

It it illegal or not to drive without hubcaps?

Now that we have some insight into the no hubcap trend.

Another germane question is whether or not it’s legal to drive without hubcaps.

When it comes to automobiles of any nature, there are parts designed for your safety and the safety of other motorists, including pedestrians.

Hubcaps aren’t one of them.

Yes, it could be argued that wheel covers serve the purpose of protecting pedestrians and animals from injury that could be caused by the lug nuts on a wheel in the case of an accident.

But aside from that, hubcaps only exist to cover the wheel so it looks more attractive and less utilitarian.

To the best of our knowledge, there’s no law prohibiting drivers from driving without hubcaps.

We certainly haven’t seen or heard anyone being ticketed for lack of wheel covering.

As far as the law is concerned, there’s no immediate risk to the safety of anyone for driving without hubcaps.

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Why Do Some People Choose to Drive Without Hubcaps?

A man inspecting a hubcap before he puts it on his car.

It all comes down to personal taste.

Some people choose to drive without wheel covers because they’ve lost one and don’t see the value in replacing it if they can just as easily remove all the hubcaps.

All we can say is if you prefer the look of hubcaps to bare steel, roll with hubcaps.

If you’re more practical and don’t necessarily care about the look of your car, go without hubcaps.

Going without hubcaps won’t affect the functionality of your car one bit.

You don’t really need hubcaps.