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How to Remove the Center Cap

by Tim Petruccio

Center caps are placed at the center of a wheel to cover the hub and intricate parts of the wheel assembly. Some center caps measure only a couple of inches in diameter, while others cover a larger area of the wheel. Center caps on wheels are where most car manufacturers or aftermarket wheel manufacturers place their logos or company names. There are five basic styles of center caps, and removal of each style is different from one another.

Flat-faced with a Notch

1

Visually inspect the wheel face and locate the notch in between the center cap and the wheel. The notch is designed for easier removal of the center cap. Some flat face wheels have a bolt holding them on for added security. Remove any bolts, using an Allen key set, a Phillips head screwdriver or the provided wheel key that came with the wheel.

2

Insert a small pry bar or flathead screwdriver into the notch, between the center cap and the wheel.

3

Gently pry the center cap free by pushing the handle of the pry bar or flathead screwdriver toward the wheel.

Standard Pop-in Center Cap

1

Lift the front of the vehicle in the location of the wheel you wish to remove, using a 2-ton or greater capacity jack. Place a jack stand beneath the lower control arm or axle housing, just behind the wheel you are working on. Remove the wheel and tire assembly completely from the car.

2

Place the handle end of a screwdriver into the back side of the wheel, until it rests against the rear of the center cap. Some pop in center caps are flush-mounted with the face of the wheel, whereas others protrude and add to the design of the wheel.

3

Gently tap the metal end of the screwdriver until it forces the center cap to pop off of the wheel.

Bolt-on Center Caps

1

Lift the vehicle off of the ground at the location of the wheel you wish to work on, using a 2-ton or greater capacity jack. Place a jack stand beneath the lower control arm or axle housing, just behind the wheel you are going to work on. Remove the wheel completely from the vehicle.

2

Insert a Phillips head screwdriver into the back side of the rim, and insert it into one of the three center cap mounting bolts. Some wheels use steel center caps and bolts, and may be too rusted to use a Phillips head screwdriver. For these wheels, use a small portion of PB Blaster or penetrating spray, a 1/4-inch drive ratchet and socket and a 9-inch extension for your ratchet.

3

Turn the bolts counterclockwise until all three mounting bolts have been removed. Bolt-on center caps will always have three mounting bolts or two mounting bolts and a guide pin protruding from the rear of the wheel. Remove all three bolts and push the center cap through the wheel from front to back.

Chrome-spoke Style and Knockoff-style Center Caps

1

Visually locate the mounting bolt holes at the base of the center cap, where it meets the the wheel. Many chrome spoke wheels and knockoff style wheels utilize a bolt at the base, which acts as a locking mechanism for the center cap. There is a protruding lip on the wheel, which the center cap slides over and is locked to for added security.

2

Insert an Allen key at the base of the center cap, into the mounting hole.

3

Remove the mounting screw by turning the Allen key counterclockwise. Pull the center cap off with your hand once you have removed the mounting screw.

Push-thru Center Caps

1

Lift the vehicle off of the ground at the location of the wheel you wish to work on, using a 2-ton or greater capacity jack. Place a jack stand beneath the lower control arm or axle housing, just behind the wheel you are going to work on. Remove the wheel completely from the vehicle.

2

Spray PB blaster or penetrating spray onto the back side of the wheel near the center.

3

Push the center cap from front to back using your hand. Lightly use the side of your fist if the center cap still gives you resistance. If light force will not work, use a flat head screwdriver to pry the center cap free from the back side of the wheel.

Items you will need

About the Author

Tim Petruccio is a professional writer and automotive mechanic. His writing combines more than 20 years of mechanical experience in automotive service, service management, automotive education and business ownership. He assisted in the automotive beta, which launched March 2011.

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