How to Repair Peeling Wheel Covers

by Sylvia Cochran

Peeling wheel covers are an annoyance but since hubcaps are little more than decorative aspects of the automobile’s wheel assembly, a failure to immediately deal with the problem is not likely to cause any safety issues. On the other hand, since cars in many ways are an extension of the driver’s personality, proper maintenance of the wheel covers is important to keep the overall look and appearance of the vehicle congruous with the image you are seeking to portray. Learning to repair peeling wheel covers is quick but so is overspending to such an extent that the refinished hubcaps are actually pricier than a set of new ones.

How to Repair Peeling Wheel Covers

Determine how your wheel covers are attached to the wheels. Some are clipped on with plastic while others use metal clipping devices to keep the cover in place. Still others are bolted on and proper tools are required to remove this latter kind from the wheel.

Take off the peeling wheel covers. Unless only one is affected considerably, you may want to consider working with all four of them to keep them looking uniformly worn.

Screw on the high pressure nozzle to the garden hose and clean off the wheel covers. The goal is to remove as much of the debris as possible. This will expose scratches, dents, and other problems within the hubcaps that need to be taken into consideration as you are repairing them.

Strip off the chrome and then re-chrome the wheel cover. If this is beyond your skill level or you do not have the tools to do so, consider contacting a body shop for help.

Color match the paint on your peeling wheel covers You may need to take the cleaned hubcap to an automotive shop for help in determining the right color to use. In a pinch you may opt for a big box home improvement store where the paint counter clerk might be able to match it to the closest color they can mix.

Keep it cheap, if they are plastic, by just buying silver spray paint and placing three to four coats on the prepped wheel covers. Finish it off with a couple of clear coats. Some people will probably gnaw off their hands before doing this, but for the rest this is a cheap alternative to spending a lot of money on a purely decorative item.

Consider using this time to personalize your car and instead of going with the same wheel cover color you might custom finish it in any of the currently hot colors that will give your car that distinctly hip look. Keep the name of the paint and the manufacturer if you choose to go this route so that you can touch up any future peeling.

Replace the hubcaps if you find that the money you are spending on the hardware and the paint is a lot more than you bargained for.


  • check Clipped wheel covers are lost more often when they are repeatedly taken off and put back on since the actual clips weaken. Only remove the caps if it is absolutely necessary!

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About the Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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