Wheel Simulators Are Like Automobile Halloween Masks
How do you feel about your car’s wheels? Chances are, they aren’t anywhere near as shiny as those you see on cars in the movies. Even if the rest of your vehicle is in superb condition, it can often be a challenge getting your wheels to look equally as good— especially because those shiny chrome wheels you want happen to be rather expensive.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem that saves both time and money— the wheel simulator.
A wheel simulator is almost exactly what it sounds like. Rather than being an actual wheel itself, it is like a hubcap that can be installed over an existing wheel, “simulating” a shiny new wheel.
In a way, a wheel simulator is like a halloween mask that transforms the look of a wheel, concealing all rust, scratches and just plain bad-looking areas.
There is also the rim simulator, which is a very similar item but is technically different in that it does not cover the entire wheel. Nevertheless, the two terms are often considered to be interchangeable. When installed properly, wheel and/or rim simulators can make it look like you went out and bought some expensive new fixtures for your car.
Like the full wheel it is imitating, this money-saving accessory comes in many different designs and can be made with different materials. While all are usually cheaper than going with a completely new wheel, there are some that are more expensive than others.
For example, some wheel simulators are made out of plastic (although they typically resemble chrome or a much more expensive material) while others are constructed from stainless steel or other more heavy-duty material. When looking at a potential wheel simulator, you should consider the conditions that the vehicle will be in throughout the year (both while driving and parked).
Think about the driving impact as well as the possibilities of extreme cold or heat, the amount and type of precipitation in your area, any potential chemical exposure or circumstances that may cause corrosion. If you live in an area with harsher winters, for instance, you’ll want a durable wheel simulator that can withstand those conditions.
Maybe you’re unsure of what kind of wheel simulator to get, or maybe you do actually want to install completely new wheels on your car but don’t know what will look best. Well, you’re in luck. Thanks to today’s technology, you can get an idea of what you are looking for without even leaving your house.
Simply turn on your computer and use an online wheel simulator program. This virtual tool allows you to select the make and model your current vehicle (or one that you are thinking of purchasing) and view it with different types of wheels.
If you don’t like anything in the general collection, you can see what options there are for a custom wheel simulator for the kind of wheels you have. Some sites will even let you select the color for your online car so that it better resembles the one you own. To see wheels on your car via a virtual wheel simulator before installing them in real life will save you time, money and possibly a whole lot of regret.
Many online retailers that sell tires, hubcaps and wheels and will also have a wheel simulator website attached, so they aren’t too hard to find. Some car dealer websites also have pages where you can “make” your own vehicle online, wheels and all, to get a better idea of what your looking for when you head to the lot.
After you purchase a wheel simulator— or rather, a set of four simulators— you can save more money by performing the installation yourself. Many mechanics or dealerships will do this for you, but this will usually cost extra and is something you can do yourself. Even for those who aren’t too mechanically inclined, putting wheel simulators on a vehicle is a fairly simple process as many simulators come prepared in a kit.
Depending on the model, a car wheel simulator can be either snapped on to the existing wheel or bolted on with lug nuts. To bolt it on (which is recommended because this method makes it more secure) you must first position the wheel simulator over the wheel so that the vent holes properly line up.
Then, you’ll need to fasten on the stud extenders with your hand, all the while keeping every hole lined up with the wheel behind it. The stud extenders can be tightened with a hex key. After they are completely tight with no give, the lug nut covers can be put on over each stud extender, tightening everything with a lug wrench.
Give the entire wheel simulator a few pushes and pulls, tightening anything if need be (the last thing you want is for it to come flying off while you’re driving). Once everything is tightened as far as it will go, you are literally ready to roll.
Once you have your new wheel simulators, you’ll want to take care of them. Maintenance is also fairly simple, and wheel simulators should be checked periodically and tightened if need be. With cleaning it is a good idea to ere on the side of caution and use a soft brush and mild detergent to clean your wheel simulators.
Wipe them dry with a soft, non-abrasive towel. Be gentler if you ended up going with a plastic wheel simulator or any ones that look like chrome, however, as both of these are more susceptible to damage than the other kinds. Whatever you do, avoid taking the simulators off just to clean them, as constant removal and reinstallation can damage them and make them loosen more often over time.
Of course, it is up to you whether or not you want to tell other people that you didn’t actually buy new wheels. If done right, nobody will be able to tell just from looking that your wheels are “covered up”, so be sure to enjoy the attention.