Prevent Valve Stem Damage from Hubcaps

Fix Valve Stem

Q.

I switched to radial tires on my 50 Plymouth and I’m sure you already know my hubcaps are rotating when I drive. They move enough to damage the valve stem. Tried tape, bending the part that holds them in place. Any suggestions?

A.

Your ’50 Plymouth sounds like a fun ride and clearly by your question it’s being driven, and that’s the reward we all strive for. If you’re putting a lot of miles on that old Mopar, Radial tires are a great choice as they provide a safer and better handling ride.

I have experienced the problem you’re having on numerous restored cars, although I don’t believe it was tied to the type of tires, although with radials you’ll be stopping a lot quicker, so perhaps it is the root of the problem. It is a good idea however to address this issue, as I have seen hubcaps that actually snapped off the valve stem.

Generally speaking once a car is restored all of the wheels are freshly painted, giving the hub caps little to bite into to prevent them from turning on the wheels during stopping or acceleration. Often simply bending the hubcap tabs out a little to apply more tension to the wheel does the trick. But when that fails to do the job, here is a quick solution I’ve used on a few cars that had persistent problems over the years.

Remove the hubcaps and thoroughly clean the areas where the hubcap tabs engage the wheel. Mask off the areas where the tabs engage the wheel in two to four locations spaced out around the wheel. Then apply a 1/16-inch thick layer of clear silicone caulk, carefully remove the masking tape before the silicone dries, and allow it to cure overnight. The silicone will have good adhesion to the wheel and gives the tabs something to bite into. I’ve used this solution on a few different years and makes, including 50’s Mopars, and it has worked every time. Don’t hesitate to let us know if it works for you.

Wrench Safe

Comments
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14 Responses to “Prevent Valve Stem Damage from Hubcaps”

  1. warren
    warren

    Sorry, but I find your description somewhat confusing. Where do you put the caulk….all around the wheel rim except for the tape ? Or on the hubcap ?

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      My apologies for the confusion, Let’s see if I can do a better job of describing the process. I mark the rim where the tabs of the hubcap touch the rim. I then tape off a rectangular area around that area leaving the area where the tabs touch the wheel uncovered by tape (Generally about a 3/4-inch x 3-inch area, for each tab). I apply a thick coat of silicone on the exposed area where the hubcap tab touches the wheel. I then remove the tape, as this simply serves to control the area that receives the silicone, and makes for a cleaner look when the caps are removed. Okay, did I do a better job describing it this time? If not, I’ll gladly get the camera out and take a few pics!

      Wrench Safe

      Reply
  2. Stan
    Stan

    Hi. Do not understand what is being masked off? If you carefully apply a 1/16 bead what is the masking tape for? Thanks Stan

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      My apologies for the confusion, Let’s see if I can do a better job of describing the process. I mark the rim where the tabs of the hubcap touch the rim. I then tape off a rectangular area around that area leaving the area where the tabs touch the wheel uncovered by tape (Generally about a 3/4-inch x 3-inch area, for each tab). I apply a thick coat of silicone on the exposed area where the hubcap tab touches the wheel. I then remove the tape, as this simply serves to control the area that receives the silicone, and makes for a cleaner look when the caps are removed.
      Okay, did I do a better job describing it this time? If not, I’ll gladly get the camera out and take a few pics!

      Wrench Safe

      Reply
  3. Dick Raczuk
    Dick Raczuk

    You could also use a magnet out of computer hard drive. ( any good strong magnet will work) Maybe two or three will hold the cap in place.

    Reply
  4. ron
    ron

    How do you install conventional wheel covers on P T Cruiser…… Factory caps attach with lugs??

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Hello Ron, thank you for your question. A respond is being sent to your email. If you have any question, please contact us at 1-855-706-3534.

      Reply
  5. JD
    JD

    I installed the steel valve stems and painted them black, nobody even notices. I had to weld the oval hole up and drill a round hole on some Plymouths.

    Reply
  6. Andrew
    Andrew

    I’m having the same problem on my ’50 Dodge Coronet Diplomat. In a box of my grandfather’s old junk I found a stainless sleeve that goes over the valve stem and through the hole in the wheel cover. Unfortunately, there was only one in there. Does anyone know what these are called so I can be on the lookout?

    Reply
    • Ed
      Ed

      They are called valve stem covers . eBay has them if you scroll down after using that search term

      Reply
  7. Gary Lundin
    Gary Lundin

    While reading this I was thinking you were going to say to paint that area with a hard box liner type paint. Might also be a good fix?

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Gary. There’s more than one way to get the job done, but your idea has merit and I would certainly give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

      Wrench safe, Mark
      Classic Car Restoration Club

      Reply