Removing wheel covers (hub caps) may help with gas mileage - they're heavy!

Discussion in 'Prius v Main Forum' started by anewhouse, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. anewhouse

    anewhouse Active Member

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    I decided to ditch the stock wheel covers (hub caps) from my Prius v Three. Partly because I didn't like the looks, but mostly because they made access to the valve stem and lug nuts less convenient. I purchased center caps to plug the ugly unfinished hub hole, removed the wheel covers, and the wheels look MUCH better! Even my wife, who is not as picky as I am about wheels (and car aesthetics in general), thinks they look much better without the wheel covers. None of this was surprising to me.

    My surprise came when I went to sell my wheel covers on ebay - I weighed them in preparation for shipping. They are about 1 pound each! (15-7/8 oz according to my kitchen scale). Sure, carrying around 4 pounds in your car wouldn't be a big deal - but hub caps count as rotational weight (rotational momentum), so they have a bigger impact on mileage than static weight. There are already plenty of threads on this idea elsewhere, but some people are very concerned with buying lightweight wheels to reduce rotational weight, and therefore maximize their gas mileage. If you told these people they could shave a pound off each of their existing wheels, with no sacrifice in performance, durability, or aesthetics, they'd probably pay extra for that opportunity, right? Additionally, reducing "unsprung weight" should theoretically enhance steering feel and responsiveness, by allowing the suspension to work more efficiently (link).
    So why in the world did Toyota add 1-pound rotating weights to each wheel? Especially when they look the same as the wheels underneath? :confused:

    I haven't seen data for how much gas mileage will increase as a result of running lighter weight wheels. Maybe it's only a fraction of one mpg. But when the same mod (i.e. removing hub caps) makes your wheels look better, is very inexpensive (just the cost of center caps), and may have steering/suspension benefits, I don't see any downsides. :)

    Andy
     
  2. Lats118

    Lats118 Junior Member

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    I've also removed my wheel covers and replaced the 'hole' in the wheels with the small cap. I agree, much, much better look. I still don't understand, like you, why Toyota decided to cover good looking wheels with covers that look essentially the same??

    I asked my dealer why Toyota put on the covers and he said it helped to increase mileage (???). Maybe if the covers were totally flat without any details I might understand that, but they're contoured and shaped just like the wheels they cover up.

    BTW, I'm holding on to my wheel covers so I can put them back on when I sell the car to cover up any curb rash and make the car look like new again.
     
  3. swg

    swg 12 Prius / 13 Volt

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    There is a hint on the video under "Efficiency" at MY12 Toyota Prius v at about 14 seconds....although I removed mine too!! Raises the question why don't the 17's have caps then?
     
  4. davefin

    davefin Junior Member

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    Here is the email response I received from Toyota on this subject:

    "We appreciate the time you have taken to email us with your inquiry.

    Toyota would not recommend removing the wheel covers as it can possibly lead to decrease in fuel economy and diminish the aerodynamics of the vehicle."
     
  5. swg

    swg 12 Prius / 13 Volt

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    Had they left "possibly" out of that response I might put them back on. Do they not know whether or not it decreases the mileage and aerodynamics? I am still curious why the 17's don't have caps then. All very strange, almost like they wanted to make the 5 version wheels look better so they through some plastic on the 2 and 3 version to cover up basically the same thing underneath (yes, I know they are 17 vs 16).
     
  6. JChag

    JChag New Member

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    I apologize in advance for, and am not trying to annoy or enflame anyone by this question, but I am not exactly sure how to remove the wheel covers. If this were a case of covers over black steel wheels, I would have used a flat head screwdriver to pop the covers off. I will not do this as these are finished alloy wheels I'm working with.

    What's the best way to remove the wheel covers from my v3?
     
  7. Mike500

    Mike500 Senior Member

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    I have several set of these "nylon" pry bars from Harbor Freight and keep one in the car to pry off parts that can easily be damaged. They are great for removing the wheel covers.

    4 Piece Nylon Pry Bar Installer Kit
     
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  8. swg

    swg 12 Prius / 13 Volt

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    What I did was to grab 2 of the cap spokes at the junction with the outside edge, with 1 in between. Get behind them as much as possible without grabbing the wheel. Give it a good solid jerk, maybe two and it will be off. Suggestion: Sit on your derriere first or you may end up there after the big jerk :)

    The manual suggests the tire tool with a rag to prevent damage...

    @Rude person's thanks for the link, I am going to grab a set!
     
  9. anewhouse

    anewhouse Active Member

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    I used a large flathead screwdriver. :eek:
    No damage to either the rims or the hubcaps. I was slightly cautious about not scratching the rims or cracking the hubcaps, but I didn't worry about it too much, and didn't have any problems.

    Anyway - Mike, I like those nylon pry bars - I'll have to grab a set next time I'm at HF! Good suggestion.
    Andy
     
  10. swg

    swg 12 Prius / 13 Volt

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    Strange, the brochure 2012 Toyota Prius v Vehicle Brochure clearly says that they are 16" 10 spoke alloy wheels with full wheel covers and P205/60R16 tires.

    The plot thickens :D
     
  11. anewhouse

    anewhouse Active Member

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    Oh, no plot thickening - I was just plain wrong. :( I could have sworn I read somewhere that the 16" wheels were "alloy-look steel," but sure enough, they're non-steel alloy. (I checked with a magnet...)
    My above post has been revised, to hopefully prevent future confusion.

    Regardless, they weren't damaged at all by my screwdriver removal of the hub caps.

    Andy
     
  12. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    They're alloy wheels and they were designed with aerodynamics in mind. Now I haven't seen a v without the alloys but it appears they're of the same design as the covers? My 2010 Prius has a twin-spoke alloy design underneath the wheel cover so it does look different with and without the covers.


    The 17" alloys were designed for looks and has less emphasis on mileage. The 15" alloys (at least on the liftback) are lightweight alloys.
     
  13. da-baron

    da-baron New Member

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    removed the hubcaps (that's what they are) from the wheels and man does the car look better. now i just need to order the center covers... what is the correct part number??
     
  14. swg

    swg 12 Prius / 13 Volt

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  15. anewhouse

    anewhouse Active Member

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    Second that - 42603-12730. Ordered mine from toyotapartsoutlet.com - the website of a dealership in NC. Received them quickly; no problems.

    Alternatively, any 2-1/2" center caps should fit - I ran across a few generic/blank ones, and I also think it'd be pretty funny to get caps with some other logo... (Audi/VW/Pontiac?) But the "real" toyota ones do match very nicely. (Same shade of gray, same metalic finish, looks stock.)
    hope this helps,
    Andy
     
  16. tvromero

    tvromero Junior Member

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    Does anyone have a before and after pic?
     
  17. swg

    swg 12 Prius / 13 Volt

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  18. anewhouse

    anewhouse Active Member

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    Why yes!

    With hub cap:
    [​IMG]

    Hub cap removed, center cap installed:
    [​IMG]

    Side by side:
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. 12get12

    12get12 Junior Member

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    This is a first for me to see the wheel is better looking than the hub cap. Why are you hiding these nice rims Toyota?
     
  20. schinia

    schinia Member

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    that isn't the only thing toyota did that was strange ! maybe it's only strange people working in the prius section of the company ?:confused::confused:
     
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