To choose the best used hubcaps, take care to examine the mounting tabs and the finish prior to purchasing them. In order to choose the best hubcaps, it may be necessary to examine many hubcaps and then pick out the best of the lot. It may also require stops at several sources in order to find a complete set of hubcaps in good condition.
Early hubcap designs often used small tabs surrounding the hubcap to fasten it to the wheel. While cracked or missing tabs typically cannot be repaired, tabs which are only bent and not broken can usually be easily straightened. Many of the upscale hubcaps are adorned with complex and multi-colored center caps. These plastic centers can fade, crack and become filled with moisture bubbles, making this a very important area to examine when deciding to purchase used hubcaps.
Many fine-metal workshops can remove dents from metal hubcaps. Workers at these shops can also buff many minor scratches out of used hubcaps, so it is not necessary to obtain flawless used hubcaps. It is best, however, to locate used hubcaps that have the fewest and slightest blemishes which will require professional buffing and dent removal. If possible, purchasing hubcaps directly off of a vehicle will usually result in the best product that is free of defects and has the mounting mechanism in top order.
Purchasing a set of hubcaps off of a vehicle also increases the possibility of purchasing a full set of the same design, style and color in a single-stop shopping trip. In some high-end vehicles, the spare tire in the trunk also will be fitted with a hubcap. Many times these types of used hubcaps will only have been stored and have never seen use on the vehicle so their finish will be like new. Searching for a set of four or five hubcaps from spare tires may be very time-consuming, though this can often result in a set of like-new used hubcaps.
Online auctions are another option for finding used or new old stock hubcaps. These are unissued hubcaps that typically come from an out-of-business auto parts supplier's stock. These parts are often sold at auction by people who will list the pieces of inventory on auction sites. The benefit of these parts is that they often come in period-correct packaging and are fresh as the day they were stamped.