Home » These Plastic Caps VW Put On Wheel Bolts Are Stupid And Confusing

These Plastic Caps VW Put On Wheel Bolts Are Stupid And Confusing

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My wife went to drive her often-problematic Volkswagen Tiguan this morning. The Tiguan being the Tiguan, though, it turns out that even if the car is mechanically fine, it would just be wrong if the car just drove, so this time one of the relatively-new tires was convinced to take a dive, having somehow gotten a nasty bit of sidewall damage that ended in a very flat tire. I went to change the tire and discovered something about the car I never noticed before. Something stupid. Something that irritated me. Something baffling. What are these somethings? These stupid little plastic wheel bolt covers.

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See these things? They’re cruel little things. Why cruel? Well, think about it: if you’re staring at them, you probably are about to change that wheel, and chances are pretty good that you’re already not happy about it. If you have a flat by the side of the road, what you want to see when you are crouching on the ground (possibly in the dark or wet or cold) are obvious bolt heads that you’ll soon be wrestling off.

What you don’t want to see is this:

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What the hell are those things? Is that a Torx head? Some sort of star-head? Do I even have a tool that fits that chonky sorta Mogen David/sorta cartoon sun-shaped hole? I got my set of weird driver heads and tried to find one that fit, and when I found one that did, it just kind of spun.

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What kind of cruel joke is this? I just want to get the damn wheel bolts out, not enjoy escape-room-style mind benders here. Soon I realized that the reason they just spun is because they’re not threaded bolts at all, but are simply plastic bolt covers that can be pried out, with something that I unfortunately wouldn’t call “ease.” So, the whole Torx-head business is all bullshit, a silly pantomime, a masquerade. Underneath them are the bolts, which I then removed, and replaced the wheel.

Exposedbolt

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Also, as you can see, there’s a lot of dirt and crap under that cover, so whatever it’s doing, it’s not exactly keeping those bolts pristine. And that picture above looks a bit like an angry robo-pig face.

All those plastic covers did was slow me down and confuse me, two things that nobody who is changing a tire wants from their tire-changing experience. So what’s the point of these things? I asked this rhetorically in our Slack channel, and our own Thomas Hundal rose to the defense of these plastic wads of crap:

“They serve a couple purposes: Beautification, corrosion-protection, theft-deterrence.”

Let’s take these one by one here. Beautification? Really? Replacing one kind of bolt head with another kind of bolt head, a fake one even, is somehow “beautification?” If that’s actually true, then our standards of beauty are way, way off. Regular bolt heads aren’t anything to be ashamed of! Lots of cars happily show their bolt heads, and some cars even love the look of regular wheel bolts so much, they fake them:

Fakeboltcap Toyota

That’s absurd, too, of course, but I think it just helps emphasize my point that the little black plastic caps with the fake Torx heads are doing nothing for the beauty of this vehicle.

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[Editor’s Note: Chevy has similarly fake plastic wheel-nut covers:

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Image from oakleafautosalvage/eBay
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Image from oakleafautosalvage/eBay
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Image from oakleafautosalvage/eBay

You can see that the nut has internal and external threads. The latter were used to thread the plastic caps to the lugnuts. I always assumed this was a cost-save thing, as the open nuts are cheaper than ones pretty enough to be visible. But maybe corrosion protection? I don’t know.

-DT]

Corrosion-protection? I mean, maybe. But if water should get inside one of those plastic caps – hardly an unlikely possibility – then it would be locked in there with the bolt forming a very effective rust trap. So I’m not sure I’m buying that one, either, especially after seeing the condition of my bolts under those caps.

Tomato Caps

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As far as theft deterrence goes, I mean, maybe, for the same reasons the fake caps are so frustrating to anyone changing a wheel on the car: confusion. It needs a Torx head something? What is this bullshit, a potential thief may think, and the go on their merry way, likely to repent and re-assess their life of wheel-crimes.

So, for Thomas’ defense, I’m giving his reasons a no, no, and a grudging maybe. That’s not enough to convince me these don’t suck.

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Am I missing something? Am I being unfair to these little bits of molded plastic? Am I taking their deception too personally? If there’s anyone who can defend these things, here’s your chance, in the comments. If these have some benefit that justifies the confusion and time-wastery of them, I’d love to hear it. If not, well, then I think I’m going to chuck them all in the trash, or maybe melt them down and re-cast them into a keychain shaped like a cockroach or something.

 

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Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
1 year ago

I have these stupid caps on every VW I own. They get tossed into the glovebox and never used again. I’m not sold on the corrosion protection part, either. The bolts holding on my wheels don’t look any worse years after the cap deletion. Maybe VW wheel bolts used to suck that bad and VAG just kept with tradition, which tracks.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mercedes Streeter
FlavouredMilk
FlavouredMilk
1 year ago

This is honestly the best way of dealing with those insufferable little pieces of plastic.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  FlavouredMilk

Nope, trash bin. My glovebox is not a junk drawer.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
1 year ago

I keep them in case I sell the car. Then I slide them back on and let the new owner decide how much they hate the caps. lol

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

That makes sense. I’d offer a handful of them up jokingly to any prospective buyer ,I guess, if I could think far enough ahead to keep them in the first place.
Trash bin is still the best option for now though.
I can’t be bothered with possible future use cases for garbage. Lest I become a hoarder.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
1 year ago

Offer the caps for sale, $5,000. Includes free car to put them on.

Black Peter
Black Peter
1 year ago

Wait, you don’t have a selection of storage bins specifically for bits of cars you remove and carefully labeled? Why are you looking at me like that.. What do you mean by “anal retentive hoarder”..

Paul Kett
Paul Kett
1 year ago

“And that picture above looks a bit like an angry robo-pig face.”

Back in the 1980s I had an old yellow Toyota Corona beater. We called it the yellow pigwagon. But it came with hubcaps rather than wheel bolt covers.

Clownish
Clownish
1 year ago

They hide corrosion. I like them. Audis have them also. You don’t use anything other than pliers or the specific VW tool to pull them out. It looks’ like a hook with a little thing for your finger. They all come with it in the emergency tools w/ jack etc.

It'll buff out
It'll buff out
1 year ago

I am now convinced these are a concession to the big “Quick-Lube / VAG Dealership” Lobby. When they break the corroded wheels studs off during a tire rotation, they can simply glue these handy “beautification” covers back on, and you’ll be none to the wiser, that you now have one less (at least) wheel stud than when you arrived. It will also be that much easier to sell you new tires, in you next visit, because some how that last $1k set of Continentals you bought, just never seemed to be balance correctly….

M F
M F
1 year ago

Insiders at VW corporate say that the company is paying off Dieselgate fines by using cheaper, uglier lugs and hiding the cheap lugs with a 2 cent cap. New VW models will be switching over to 5 lug hubs to hasten the savings.

Bill D
Bill D
1 year ago

They’re not fake Torx, they’re fake XZN (“Triple Square”). Use a Torx driver on a triple-square fastener at your peril.

When I saw these silly caps on my new Tiguan, I wondered, “So the lug bolts are triple-squares now, too?”

The only thing worse is the two-part lug nuts on Fords, which come apart, and the cosmetic plastic bit swells. It’s why Snap On makes a 22.5mm impact socket, to deal with those godawful things.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill D

Yep. My dumb self bought a set of triple square bits because I didn’t realize they were cosmetic until later.

Someday I guess I’ll encounter an actual need for those.

Bill D
Bill D
1 year ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

Found a couple of uses for them on my Mk4 Beetle–a door latch, for one, and the throttle body, for another.

Leo T.
Leo T.
1 year ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

First time you do your brakes or suspension you’ll run into loads of them

Jaroslaw Kusz
Jaroslaw Kusz
1 year ago

Why so much hate? Caps are nice and Volkswagen is written on it. My Atlas likes them.

ScottyB
ScottyB
1 year ago

Maybe the purpose is to make like miserable for anyone except the VW service department, which has a dedicated tool for this not available to mere mortals?

Bill D
Bill D
1 year ago
Reply to  ScottyB

The dedicated tool is in your trunk, it’s the hook with a ring on the end of it.

Roger Garbow
Roger Garbow
1 year ago

My Audi A3 had those stupid wheel lug covers. The first time I swapped out the summer rubber for winters, they came off and never returned. Replaced the stock lugs with some nice black aftermarket units that remained hatless.

Nick Fortes
Nick Fortes
1 year ago

VW also doesn’t use dressed up or chrome plated bolts. They are kind of just grungy pot metal looking things, not even a nicely finished head at that. I guess the caps are better looking than seeing their unfinished bolts? The caps look good on my wife 22 GLI as the wheels are black so those caps just make the grey bolt heads blend to the wheel color. Also the day you figure out what that little metal loop with a tail is for you are like oh, ok they have provided me with the cap puller and I don’t need another tool.

Also FCP or one of those places sell those caps in chrome if you want the shine.

Lucho R
Lucho R
1 year ago

You know. I live in Colombia and I have never seen this caps. I own a VW Nivus and well it doesnt have those. Nor have I seen it in my family’s VWs ever.

I think since this is a third world place those are expensive and frowned upon.

Ryanola
Ryanola
1 year ago

Yes, went to take the snow tires off my wife’s audi and was confounded by the odd size bolts. Had to consult the manual just to change the tires. The audi has a weird metal hook thingy in the tire kit to get them off the actual lug bolts. Even bentley has these.

Jim Oldham
Jim Oldham
1 year ago

I’ve had them on my 2013 GTI for 10 years now, never had a problem with them, they still look new. Each time I had tires put on I removed them beforehand, however. Contrarily, the chrome encapsulated nuts on my wife’s Toyota Highlander have been beaten up by jokers with air guns at tire shops. These look terrible in comparison to the VW’s. If I had to access these weekly I could see the annoyance.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Oldham

The, (lets admit it) pointless, plastic caps don’t stop idiots with an air gun over tightening you VW’s wheel bolts. Trust me on this.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 year ago

I’ll defend them as, at least, not terrible. I usually remove them with a small flathead screwdriver (25% of the time it goes flying somewhere) but I vaguely recall that you can use a screwdriver or something or another that is in the spare tire well kit. I do think they look better than the stock nuts and at last on my car (three Chicago winters so far) my wheel nuts still look minty.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 year ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

There’s a surprisingly handy, double-ended, screwdriver in the VW tool kit, that also has a plastic bit which fits the wheel bolts perfectly. While not offering enough strength to remove the bolts, so I’m not sure what it’s for.

Clark B
Clark B
1 year ago
Reply to  Phuzz

On the infrequent occasion that I make my way to the junkyard, I always try to take one of those screwdrivers home with me, they’re great for around the house.

B85S5DSG
B85S5DSG
1 year ago

From a distance those look like black oxide triple square head studs. I initially thought, that wouldn’t be a horrible idea considering a spline style head can handle a lot of torque. But now that I know, I think they can be removed with a “not a flame thrower.”

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