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I was driving on the interstate and then my car started making this fluttering noise that sounded like when you go up a rollercoaster except if you went up them at 100mph. It only seemed to happen at above 40mph-ish, or at least it wasn't noticeable when I dipped below that. It stopped making noise altogether regardless of how fast I was going for the last 20 minutes of my ride home so I thought it fixed itself until I got out and saw... this:

Chevy Spark 2016 wheel with full plastic hub cap, on vehicle.

I don’t know much about cars and haven’t been able to reach any mechanics because of my work hours. I am wondering if this is something I could postpone getting fixed until next week or if it's a "please get an Uber to work or you will die" situation.

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  • If that was done with those current tires, then the actual steel rim appears to be fine. I don't see any significant damage to the tire itself, and it is holding air. Take the plastic off and reexamine it. Here's some curb damage mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/76928/went-over-a-curb
    – MikeP
    Oct 26, 2023 at 19:22
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    After you get the plastic trim off, please do add another photo from the same angle for comparison.
    – Criggie
    Oct 26, 2023 at 21:31
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    Has your hub cap always been bent out of shape and had those scratch marks?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Oct 27, 2023 at 11:18
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    I've not been back in a while and maybe there's no mods left anymore but how has a tyre question lasted this long?
    – Andy Hames
    Oct 28, 2023 at 4:19

2 Answers 2

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That's a plastic cap, held on by threads on the end of each lug nut. Take the cap off to inspect the actual wheel.1 Steel wheels are super hardy. It's unlikely you damaged a wheel without also damaging a tie rod end or something else (which you would probably feel while driving, but not necessarily hear). All that noise was from the cap flapping in the wind. It looks like you've done some curb detailing on your wheels lately, causing some cracks on the cap, and it probably folded it like a taco, until the high-speed wind righted it.

You might be able to simply take the cap off and put it back on in a more straight fashion. It also just might be toast, in which case, you can throw it out and drive safely without it. If you'd like to replace the cap, the dealer will be expensive. Maybe more than $100. Your best bet is a junk yard or aftermarket like Facebook marketplace or Craigslist. If it's not making the flapping noise at all anymore, I'm quite confident it's not an issue. It was just the cap, so you can go on using the car safely.


  1. To remove the cap on a chevy, the little plastic nuts are actually little plastic nuts that screw into threads on the end of each lug nut. You only need to unscrew them about one full turn before they let loose. This is confusing because some vehicles, like Toyotas, have similar looking caps but the plastic nuts are fake and the cap is held on by clips along the wheel rim. With that variety you simply pry the cap from the rim. If you attempt to pry this cap from your wheel, you will break it further. See this video explaining how to remove Chevy hub caps. When you put it back on, do not over tighten. Use your socket and hand, not an air tool.
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    "Curb detailing" LOL
    – IconDaemon
    Oct 27, 2023 at 14:24
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That isn't an alloy wheel, that's a regular steel wheel with a plastic wheel cover on it. The plastic cover is obviously in bad shape, it's just for appearances so you can just take it off and throw it away. You can replace it or not, it's just for show.

The nuts on the plastic cover are fake, the cover is held on by plastic or metal brackets which hook onto the wheel. You just pop the cover off with a large screwdriver or crowbar.

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  • 4
    It may be a good idea to explain how to take it off, before the OP tries undoing those visible nuts.
    – HandyHowie
    Oct 26, 2023 at 9:40
  • Good point, @HandyHowie, done.
    – GdD
    Oct 26, 2023 at 9:49
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    It might be worth checking the manual for how to remove the wheel cover; on my daughter's 2018 Chevy Cruze the plastic nuts on the wheel cover thread onto the heads of the lugnuts underneath, and you are supposed to use the same lugnut wrench to unscrew the plastic nuts to remove the wheel cover. Oct 26, 2023 at 15:47
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    "The nuts on the plastic cover are fake". I don't think so. It's a chevy. The plastic nuts screw into the threads on the top of lugnuts.
    – user58368
    Oct 26, 2023 at 17:38
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    Yep, see this video.
    – user58368
    Oct 26, 2023 at 17:41

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