Loose Hubcap Sound Bothering You? (Here’s What To Do)

Contrary to what most people think, the hubcap is more than just a decorative accessory for your wheels. Modern-day hubcaps are designed to keep dirt and debris away from the wheel hub while also reducing drag.

Therefore, it’s vital to ensure your hubcaps are always in perfect condition. Like all other parts in your car, the hubcap may loosen up after a while.

And when that happens, you’ll notice a strange sound while driving. Today’s review is centered around loose hubcap sounds and everything you may need to know about this problem.

Rally wheel

What Sound Does a Loose Hubcap Make?

If one of your hubcaps is loose, there are a few sounds you may hear while driving. They include;

• Rattling – This is the most common noise a loose hubcap makes. If you hear a rattling sound or a clanking noise, especially when driving over bumps, that’s an indication that the hubcap is loose and is hitting against the wheel as you drive over an uneven road.

• Squeaking – A loose hubcap may also produce a squeaking sound more so if it has shifted away from its initial position.

• Flapping – A hubcap that’s very loose and on the verge of falling off will produce a flapping sound when you’re driving at high speeds.

Other motorists with loose hubcaps also notice sounds such as thumping or echoing. But don’t put too much focus on the type of sound your loose hubcap is making because below, I’ll be sharing with you a method on how to test if your hubcap is loose.

How to Diagnose Loose Hubcap Sounds?

The first method of diagnosing a loose hubcap is by listening to any of the above sounds. Find a quiet road and roll down all your windows.

Then drive at different speeds while listening to which side the sound is coming from. If you’re keen enough, you can tell which hubcap is loose and fasten it.

The other method is to perform a visual and physical inspection. Inspect each hubcap and push or pull it to check if there’s any play.

A loose hubcap will have a lot of movement. A tap test is also known to be very effective at identifying a loose hubcap. Once identified, you can find some fasteners and use them to secure the hubcap to the hub.

What Causes a Loose Hubcap Sound?

Here are a few culprits that may be behind the loose hubcap sounds you’re hearing;

• Damaged hubcaps – Some hubcaps aren’t very durable, especially those made out of plastic. Therefore, with time, they may get damaged and loosen up.

• Incorrect fastening – If you had recently removed the hubcaps and didn’t fasten them correctly, they’ll be loose and you will notice rattling or flapping sounds.

• Vibrations from the wheels – Long-term exposure to vibrations can loosen the fasteners holding your hubcap. And that’s when you’ll begin to notice strange sounds. This is very normal and it’s why you need to always check and maintain the hubcaps.

• Heavy impact – If you were recently involved in an accident, heavy impact can also loosen up your hubcaps.

• Installing the wrong size hubcaps – When shopping for hubcaps, you must find the correct size. Otherwise, a bigger or smaller hubcap won’t easily fit the provided space and it can produce strange noises when driving.

• Poor maintenance – Like all other parts of your car, hubcaps also deserve regular care. If ignored, the fasteners eventually become loose and you may notice this problem when it’s already too late.

How to Get Rid of a Loose Hubcap Sound?

The only method you can fix a loose hubcap sound is by re-tightening the fasteners. If your hubcap is loose, identify the fastening mechanism it uses.

Whether it’s nuts, screws, or clips, get the correct tools and work on the fasteners until the hubcap is securely attached to the wheel. Push it around to check if the connection is firm and go for a test drive to confirm if the noises have gone away.

That’s how easy it is to fix a loose hubcap. There is no need for you to visit a mechanic, unless you have re-tightened the fasteners and the noise is still there.

Also, if your hubcap has suffered significant damage, you should consider replacing it. And after fixing these strange noises coming from your hubcap, do not neglect it.

What are the Other Signs of a Loose Hubcap?

Sounds such as rattling, squeaking, and flapping are not the only signs of a loose hubcap. Familiarizing yourself with all the symptoms of this problem comes in handy during diagnosis.

So, here are some additional signs you should be on the lookout for;

If a hubcap is loose, when you look at your wheels, you’ll notice an uneven wheel appearance or misalignment.

Loose hubcaps can also cause the wheel and steering to vibrate when driving at high speeds. This is attributed mainly to the increase in drag.

Another sign you should consider is a change in vehicle stability.

Also, if you’re constantly losing hubcaps on the road, there is a high chance that they are loose.

Is Driving with a Loose Hubcap Risky?

I always encourage my readers not to ignore any funny sounds coming from their vehicles no matter where they’re coming from. Ignoring a loose hubcap sound is risky because it can eventually fall off while you’re driving.

Should this happen while you’re driving, the fallen hubcap will be a safety hazard to you, other motorists, and even pedestrians.

Also, because a loose hubcap moves around a lot, it may damage the wheel hub thus leading to costly repairs. As mentioned earlier, a loose hubcap can affect a car’s stability and aerodynamics.

Even though a hubcap making strange noises may seem like a small problem, it’s an issue that needs to be remedied as soon as possible.

How Can You Differentiate Between the Sound of a Loose Hubcap and Other Vehicle-Related Noises?

It’s not only the hubcap that produces rattling and squeaking sounds. Some parts of a car’s suspension also produce similar sounds. So, how can you tell if the sound is coming from the hubcap or other parts of your car?

First of all, you need to perform the diagnostic test I discussed earlier. By pushing the hubcaps to check if there are some movements, you can tell whether they are loose or not.

Alternatively, you can go for a driving test and bring in an extra set of ears to help pinpoint where the sound is coming from.

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with engine and suspension noises. This way, you’ll be able to rule out other vehicle-related sounds.

If you are finding it difficult to differentiate between the sound of a loose hubcap and other car noises, book an appointment with your favorite mechanic for a professional diagnosis.

Please note that funny car noises should never be ignored because they could be signaling a very serious problem.

Does the Material of the Hubcap Influence the Likelihood of It Coming Loose?

Some hubcap materials are indeed more vulnerable to becoming loose and producing strange sounds. A good example is a plastic hubcap.

Even though they are lightweight and affordable, plastic hubcaps are very delicate and with time, they can loosen up or get damaged.

If you’re hearing strange noises from the wheels and you have a set of plastic hubcaps. Please confirm if they are tight.

Metal hubcaps on the other hand are more resistant to such problems. It’s also important to mention that some designs such as the clip-on hubcaps become loose more easily. Their bolt-on counterparts adhere more firmly to the hub.

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment