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Many rims seem to have this piece of plastic around one of the spokes. It seems to be a zip tie fastening the rim in place.

But what is its exact purpose? If it is required to fasten the rim in place, why don’t all wheels have it?

Suzuki wheel

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  • 5
    Just to be clear, the "rim" is a structural part and is (thankfully) not held in place by zip ties.
    – Nobody
    Sep 28 at 12:19
  • 2
    Note that the cable tie does not have to be black, e.g. "silver" ones are available, but black cable ties tend to be more UV-resistant as far as I know. Sep 28 at 14:13
  • 1
    @AndrewMorton Black is also by far the most common color for zip-ties. Unless you're going to go out of your way to try and color-match the tie to your rims, it's the one most people are likely to have around the house (or repair shop) already. Sep 29 at 13:08
  • @AndrewMorton Cheap aftermarket hubcaps often come with silver ties
    – Chris H
    Sep 29 at 14:09
  • @DarrelHoffman I don't know, the natural nylon colored (kind of whiteish) ones are quite common.
    – Glen Yates
    Sep 29 at 22:18
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The wheel trim that it is holding on is likely damaged, so a previous owner has added the cable/zip tie to stop it falling off. The damage may not be visible from the outside. There are plastic tabs on the inside that are pressed against the rim by a metal ring. One of the plastic tabs may have broken making it a bit loose.

It is possible that someone has added it to make it a little more difficult for someone to steal them, but that is less likely.

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  • 1
    I don't think they'd do much to prevent theft; they'd be awfully easy to cut off. Sep 28 at 17:25
  • 2
    @FredLarson I did say a little more difficult. They are fairly difficult to snap without a cutting tool of some sort. :)
    – HandyHowie
    Sep 28 at 19:04
  • 1
    At least in this case, some damage does appear to be visible on the outside - on the leading edge in the photo, you can see that the rim has been scuffed against something - this is likely what caused the tabs to break. Sep 29 at 13:21
  • I don't think anyone out there is stealing $30 plastic OEM wheel covers, no matter how desperate they are. This is certainly because the cover is damaged.
    – J...
    Sep 29 at 15:56
  • @HandyHowie from it's size, I suspect that's probably a basic 40-60 pound strength tie. If you can get anything under it to pry or pull on it shouldn't be that hard to break; potentially a good bit less than the rated number if it's been severely weakened by UV. Sep 29 at 21:02
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These cable ties are usually found on the cheaper plastic wheel trims as they can fly off. Some of the more expensive ones suffer from the springs and tabs getting bent when owners force them.

Seen many on the side of the road - often in winter as the snow can help knock them off or build up behind them.

The cable ties are also used to stop the wheel trims rattling, but then you might see 2 or 3 fitted.

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