JK's Guide to Classic VW Hubcap Care
A good job for the winter, while you’re waiting for shows and events to start up again, is looking after the chrome on your classic VW hub caps.
We all remember to clean up the shiny bits, but what’s going on the other side? It’s hard to tell what kind of state they’re in on the reverse side, but it’s an area that gets a pretty hard time and could use some attention.
This is a job which Mark, who founded Just Kampers back in 1989, has tackled recently on his 1966 VW Beetle (which is still his favourite car in a pretty changeable roster!)
Mark’s put together the following tips, to help you care for your chrome hubcaps:
Tip one: Don’t use a screwdriver to remove the hubcaps!
We’ve all done it, and it does work but a screwdriver isn’t the right tool for the job.
The sharp edges can chip the paint on the wheel, and damage the chrome on your hubcap.
As well as looking cool, the paint and chrome is there to protect the metalwork underneath, and damaging them can expose that metal and lead to rust, which is definitely something we’re all trying to avoid on our classic cars!
It may seem like someone’s just created a tool for the sake of it, or look like an unfolded paperclip, but a hubcap pulling tool is specially designed to quickly and safely get your hubcaps off without risking damage to the cap or the wheel underneath.
The two ends of the tool slot into the holes in your hubcap, and you can then use this as a ‘loop’ to prize the caps off without hurting them!
Don't do it!You'll likely damage your hubcap and let rust start forming
That's way better!Now you can use your hubcap puller to lever the cap off
Tip two: Be careful when you’re cleaning the inside of your hub cap.
Depending on when you last cleaned them, a fair amount of brake dust will have built up inside there, and it’s not good for your lungs.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve usually got a mask in your pocket these days, but I’d recommend using a proper filtering mask for this job.
Here's a shot of the inside of one of the hubcaps on my '66 Beetle Cabriolet , and I can't remember the last time I cleaned the insides.
As you can see, theres quite a lot of grime built up inside!
Tip 3: Brake cleaner is ideal for cleaning up the inside of your hubcaps.
If you use a good quality brake cleaner in a spray can , you can just blast the inside of the hub cap with it, leave it to settle in for a while, and then wipe it away with a handful of blue roll.
The cleaning chemicals which are so good at cleansing your brake components are also great at cutting through the brake dust and other stuff which has built up behind your hub cap, so this is a quick and easy way to get them as sparkly clean as the front side of your hubcap!
Tip 4: Use Ankor Wax to prolong the life of your hub caps.
Once you’ve finished cleaning up the insides of your hubcaps, applying a really good coat of Morris Ankor Wax is a great way to keep them going for as long as possible.
Made by Morris (of the Oil) from a number of rust-inhibiting chemicals, a solid layer of Ankor Wax will give the inside surface of your hub caps a smooth, waxy layer of protection.
You’ll need to make sure that the surface you’re coating is totally clean and dry before you start, but there's another useful tip to help you make quick work of applying Ankor Wax...
Tip 5: Be sure to warm your Wax.
There’s a trick to making Ankor Wax much easier to work with, and that’s a bucket of warm water!
Fill a bucket with hot water (I’ve usually got the kettle on when I’m in the workshop anyway!) and carefully place the can of Ankor Wax into the water.
Give the can a gentle shake every few minutes, to make sure it’s warmed all of the wax inside, and it’ll be a much smoother, runnier consistency which is a lot easier to work with.
Once it’s warmed Ankor Wax is liquid enough for you to apply it with a paint brush, which makes the whole process a lot easier, especially when you’re working on a relatively small area like the inside of a hubcap, rather than your whole chassis.
If it starts getting thick again you can warm it up again with more hot water, and keep on going!
Tip 6: Finish the job off with a metal cleaner.
While you’ve already got your hubcaps off and are giving them some care and attention, take the opportunity to give the chrome faces of each of them a proper clean with some good quality metal cleaner, like Autosol.
Once you've removed, sprayed, cleaned, dried, waxed and polished each of your hubcaps you'll be ready to fit them back onto your wheels.
Now all you need to do it take a step and admire your handywork, knowing that the Ankor Wax and cleaning agents you used will make the job much easier next time!