What Are Hub Centric Rims & Wheel Centering Rings?

Installing a new set of rims is one of the most distinct ways to alter your vehicle’s look. But aside from simply knowing how to measure your car’s rim size, you’ll also need to know the different components you’re dealing with.

The two most common terms that you’ll hear when changing your wheels are hub centric rims and wheel centering rings. But what are they, and do you need them?

In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions and break everything down here so you can upgrade your wheels and be on the road in no time.

What Are Hub Centric Rims?

When looking at new rims for your vehicle there are two types to choose from — lug centric wheels and hub centric wheels. The difference between the two rims comes down to how they mount to your vehicle.

Hub centric rims are the gold standard when it comes to what you should have on your car — and it’s because the contact point between the center of the rim meshes completely flush with the hub.

This contact point carries the weight of the vehicle, just as the manufacturer designed it to do. All your OEM rims are hub centric, and this gives you the best possible fitment.

However, if you’re replacing your stock rims, finding aftermarket hub centric rims can sometimes be difficult. That’s because each vehicle has hubs with a slightly different diameter, preventing you from getting a flush fitment.

So, instead of creating vehicle-specific rims, many rim manufacturers opt for lug centric wheels, which use an oversized hole in the middle of the rim. Since the rim won’t be sitting on the hub, they need a different way to mount to your vehicle. Lug centric spacers and wheels rely on lugs to tighten to your vehicle, which can lead to a few different problems.

The most prevalent problem comes down to mounting them properly. Lug centric rims are notoriously challenging to mount properly.

A lug centric wheel that is perfectly balanced on the machine can experience heavy vibrations and other problems when you actually drive the car. Luckily for all of us, they make a product to help with installation — wheel centering rings!

What are Wheel Centering Rings?

If you’re trying to install lug centric wheels, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality set of wheel centering rings. These rings come in a variety of materials, but the most common are plastic and metal.

Plastic rings are more affordable, but they can’t handle tons of heat — so if you’re installing them on a vehicle you’ll be racing, you should stick with the more expensive metal ones.

An aftermarket wheel with a plastic wheel centering ring
An aftermarket wheel with a plastic wheel centering ring.

What Do They Do?

Wheel centering rings work by filling the space between your new wheels and the hubs. This makes it easy to install your new wheels because all you need to do is throw on the wheel centering rings and install your new rims on top of them.

Of course, to do this you’ll need to know two separate measurements. First, you’ll need to know the inner diameter of the center bore on your new rim. Second, you’ll need to measure the outer diameter of each hub pilot on your vehicle.

Keep in mind that the hub pilot size can vary from wheel to wheel, so it’s essential to measure each hub pilot separately.

After reading this, you might find yourself wondering why hub centric rims are so hard to find when you can find wheel centering rings in so many different sizes. The truth is that it comes down to the cost to manufacture wheel centering rings.

Most wheel centering rings are plastic, and if you have a 3D printer and know what you’re doing, you can make them yourself. Rims, on the other hand, take a lot of work and machinery to produce.

Simply put, wheel centering rings are easier and cheaper to make, making them a more profitable choice.

When Do You Need Them? Are They Necessary?

Ideally, you should be using hub centric wheel centering rings whenever you’re using lug centric wheels — except for a few limited circumstances.

You should not use wheel centering rings if you:

  • Are using steel wheels
  • Have wheels with a push-through center cap
  • Have non-machined center bores
Nissan S13 on steel rims
Nissan S13 on steel rims.

These wheel types don’t accept wheel centering rings, and you’re only going to run into problems if you try to force them on.

What Happens If You Don’t Use Them?

The truth is — not that much. However, installing your lug centric wheels without hub centric rings can be incredibly difficult, which is why we recommend using them in the first place.

If you don’t install your wheels properly you’re in for one rough ride, especially at higher speeds. For daily driving applications, the most you’ll probably notice is some extra vibration, but if you’re taking your vehicle to the track, you might have more significant problems to worry about.

Common Wheel Centering Ring Myths

When it comes to hub rings, there are two prevalent myths that can be hard to escape:

  1. Wheel centering rings transfer the weight of your wheels to the hub pilot: The truth is that wheel centering rings don’t carry any weight. All they do is help you mount your lug centric wheels. The lugs on the rims still carry all the weight.
  2. Without centering rings you can’t properly mount lug centric rims: While hub centric rings for aftermarket wheels certainly make the installation process easier, if you know what you’re doing and take your time, you can properly mount lug centric rims without them.

Conclusion

When it comes to installing new wheels, it’s essential to know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for. From lug centric to hub centric wheels, there’s no wrong choice if you know how to install them.

When you install them properly they’re a great way to transform the look of your vehicle, and you might even get a little extra performance too!

Do you still have questions about wheel centering rings or hub centric wheels? Let us know below, and we’ll clear up any confusion. And if you’re looking for other ways to upgrade your vehicle check out some of the other guides!

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