A car's tires are responsible for supporting the vehicle's weight, absorbing shock, and getting you from one point to the other. These items are essential if you want to have a working car. However, the tire buying process can be confusing and overwhelming. The terms tire, wheel, and rim are often used interchangeably or incorrectly. So, when you're purchasing new tires, what can you expect? We've scoured the internet and can tell you what's included with your new tires.
When purchasing new tires, you are typically only buying the rubber, ring-shaped component attached to the rim. You can buy rims and hubcaps separately or buy a wheel package that will include new wheels, rims, and tires.
Now you know what comes with your new tires, let's get more information. Keep reading to learn more!
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Parts of a Wheel
A wheel is a circular device that rotates around an axle. An automotive wheel is made up of several different components. The rim holds onto the tire. This component is the outer edge of the wheel and surrounds the hub and spokes.
The hub is the center part of the wheel where the bearings are located. The hubcap is an optional piece that covers the wheel's hub.
The tire is the rubber piece that gets filled with air or nitrogen. Current automotive tires are constructed from synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric, wire, and other necessary chemical compounds.
Check out "Nitrogen In Tires: Pros And Cons" for some great information!
When To Replace Tires, Rims, & Hubcaps
To keep your car running its best, you'll need to know when to change the parts on your wheels. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends you replace your tires every six to ten years regardless of the amount of wear and tear.
Rims, wheels, and hubcaps don't necessarily need to be replaced at the same time. Be on the lookout for some telltale signs of damage to those components.
When to Replace Tires
You should replace your tires if you notice any unusual wear on the tread. Unusual tire tread is an indicator of problems with your vehicle, such as over or underinflation of the tires. Uncommon tread wear includes patchy, edge shoulder, and center wear.
You can also tell if your tires need replacing by determining how much of the tread is left. The tread is the rubber that is in contact with the ground. This component wears down over time which limits the amount of traction your tires can get.
To check how much tread you have left, grab a penny and insert it into the groove with Lincoln facing down and towards you. If you can see all of his head, then it's time to get new tires.
You can also do this trick with a quarter. Insert this coin the same way you would a penny. If your tread reaches Washington's head, you're good to go.
Check out this video to see it in action!
When to Replace Rims
Unless they are damaged, rims typically don't need to be replaced. Damage can happen by hitting a curb or pothole. Road salt can also cause damage to rims. It's more likely that you'll have to replace your rims if you use your vehicle heavily.
The most noticeable sign of rim damage is frequent tire pressure loss. If your tire and valve stem aren't leaking, a worn-down rim can make it difficult for your tire to hold air. A vibrating steering wheel or vehicle drift can also be signs of a damaged rim.
When to Replace Hubcaps
When a hubcap is included with a car, it commonly bears the manufacturer's trademark. You can replace hubcaps to make the vehicle feel more personal to the owner. Aside from updating the car's look, it would be best if you changed your hubcaps whenever you notice damage.
Purchasing New Tires
Unless otherwise specified, you are only getting the rubber tire when you buy a new set of tires. You can also purchase a tire installation package.
What is included in these packages vary. At the minimum, a tire installation package will include:
- Tire mounting and balancing
- New valve stems
- Old tire disposal
- A visual inspection of the vehicle
Rim and Tire Packages
If you want rims and tires at the same time, you should consider purchasing a wheel and tire package. These product bundles allow you to customize the type of rim and tire that you are buying. It also allows you to skip out on multiple service and installation fees because they're being installed all at once.
Hubcaps are the small covers that go over the center of the wheel. It is used to protect the wheel fasteners from dirt and moisture. Hubcaps also serve as a decorative piece for the car. A wheel cover will shield the entire face of the wheel. These are often decorative but can also protect the wheel face from damage.
You can install both hubcaps and wheel covers without the help of a mechanic. To install a hubcap, sometimes called a wheel center cap, you'll need to remove the entire wheel.
Remove the tension ring from the center of the wheel and then pop out the hubcap. Take your new hubcap and install it. Make sure to put the tension ring back into the center area.
Check out this video to watch how it's done!
Can I use old rims on new tires?
As long as there's no damage to your rims, there's no reason you can't use them for new tires. However, if you suspect rim damage, then you should get both new rims and new tires.
If you've recently gotten new tires but need new rims, you can also transfer those tires to new rims. Whatever your situation, make sure your rim or tire are the correct sizes for your vehicle.
Should I get new rims or hubcaps?
Rims and hubcaps should be replaced whenever you notice damages. Problems with rims are usually indicated with difficulty maintaining tire pressure. If this is happening to you, then it may be time to get new rims.
You can find damages to hubcaps by visually inspecting your car. You can also get new hubcaps to update the look of your wheel. Wheel covers are more aesthetically pleasing and change the wheel's look more than updating the hubcaps.
Can you put hubcaps on any wheel?
In general, you can use hubcaps and wheel covers on any make and model of car. The most important thing is knowing your tire size. You can find what size hubcap you need on your tire. The numbers located after the "R" indicate the trim ring size, also known as the hubcap size.
You'll need to measure your center cap to determine what size to get. Make sure to measure both the inner and outer diameters. You can also find center hubcaps based on the make and model of your car.
Do you need hubcaps on tires?
Hubcaps serve a primarily decorative purpose. Although they help protect the hub from damage and from gathering dirt or moisture.
Can I drive without a hubcap?
If you've previously had hubcaps, you might be concerned about driving without them. The good news is, if you don't want to use them, you don't have to. They do provide some protection to your wheels, but you can still drive without them. Although, many people do prefer how a wheel looks with a wheel cover than without one.
Can hubcaps fall off?
The center hubcap is far less likely to fall off than the wheel cover. Older wheel covers were prone to detaching on bad roads because of how heavy they were. Unfortunately, this is a problem that still occurs today.
Clip-on wheel covers are especially prone to popping off when driving over potholes. Bolt-on wheel covers tend to vibrate loose after enough time has passed.
When you purchase a new set of tires, you should only expect to get the wheel's rubber, inflatable section. While many tire installations include things like mounting and rotation, you won't be getting new rims. If you want new rims as well, you'll have to get a wheel and tire package or ask to add them to your tire installation. Fortunately, you can install hubcaps and wheel covers on your own!
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