To hubcap or not to hubcap, that is my question.

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Well-known member
May 3, 2015
I know I will get better mpge if I remove my hubcaps, but how much better is the question.

Anyone try this or is there an engineering equation I can use?
I think it depends on the hubcaps. If they're plastic and weigh very little, you won't see a measurable difference with them on or off the wheel. If they are smooth and create little turbulence, your MPGe might even be better with them on the wheel than without because the naked wheel probably creates more turbulence than with the hubcaps

In the case of a stock iMiEV hubcap, I'd defy anyone to measure a difference as it would be very, very small, either way

Agreed, a hubcap delete will make a negligible difference. To my butt-o-meter, OEM hubcaps made less of a difference than tread depth, and look ugly. (New tires have more rolling resistance than the worn-down tires.) The alloy wheels are a noticeable performance upgrade, due to their light weight.
I liked the look of my spun disc wheel covers, but they were a scratch magnet and would require modification to eliminate the crinkling noise when driving, plus the noisy steel grippers are also heavy.
I'm going with no hubcaps. I sorta like the black wheels, they have a certain jennis say quah, like the torn jeans so popular with the youth set.
Plus, I will probably get better mpge because of the lighter weight. Regular hubcaps have holes in them which create turbulence. I suppose that the moon hubcaps might improve mpge but they also might create overheating problems with the brake pads.
I'd only worry about brake pad overheating if I were autocrossing an i, since we use the grippers so rarely in normal driving. If autocrossing, the hubcaps would come off anyway.
With the high stock stance of an i, it does look slightly aggressive without hubcaps, especially when wearing snow tires!
jray3 said:
I'd only worry about brake pad overheating if I were autocrossing an i, since we use the grippers so rarely in normal driving.
Agreed. I sold a Toyota Supra with 160K on the clock which still had the factory OEM brake pads on it - T'was a 5 speed and I did much of my slowing downshifting. By comparison, I have *no doubt* I'll get twice that mileage from the stock brakes on the i - I always drive in 'B' mode and seldom touch the brakes unless I'm under 15 mph or so . . . . absolutely zero risk of overheating the binders on this car!

genec said:
How much do alloy wheels help?
Help what? I have two iMiEV's with alloys and other than the fact that they look better, I don't see many advantages. I would even venture to guess that their weight isn't much less than the steel wheels on the ES

To me, the big advantage of the SE models is they come with running/fog lights and a better sound system. The big advantage of the SE Premium (other than the Nav system which I never use) is the back-up camera, the Bluetooth phone and the QC quick charge port . . . . though you could order the ES with the QC

The alloys are nice . . . . but they're not a deal maker/breaker to me

Aero wise, the alloys are probably worse (being that they have three large openings) than the steel wheels. The jellybean covers on the wheels (factory ES) are pretty flat and minimize the openings.

Although I haven't lifted an alloy wheel, the steel wheels with tires on them are very light, and also offer the advantage of being able to put different covers on to change the look.