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Semi Truck Hubcap Spikes: Decorative or Dangerous?

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Are those shiny, pointy spikes on big rig wheels a hazard?

semi truk hubcap spikes lug nut covers

Are you scared yet?
Photo: Barbara Ann Spengler via cc/Flickr

Few things can send a driver’s heart rate skyrocketing faster on the highway than driving next to a semi-truck. Aside from being inches from a construction zone’s concrete blockades (seriously, why are those positioned so far into the lane?), traveling neck-and-neck alongside a big rig that’s five times your vehicle’s size is the quickest panic-inducer you’ll face.

That feeling of dread can instantly be made 20 times worse when you notice those glossy metal spikes spinning ferociously on the truck’s front hubcaps. Suddenly, you feel like you’re in a Death Race or Mad Max movie.

Seriously though — how are these dangerous-looking ornaments allowed on the road? And how damaging are they, were they to graze your family’s car?

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Can Hubcap Spikes Damage Your Car?

Those spike-like ornaments on hubcaps are actually lug nut covers that fit over the nuts securing the wheels. Most of them are not actually metal but simply a glossy plastic (though some do come in a very low-quality aluminum). These fake plastic “spikes” are, thus, purely decorative versions of lug nut covers and probably wouldn’t cause any real damage to another car (at least, no more than colliding with the side of a big rig would in general).

So, why do truck drivers install these threatening-looking enhancements? The simple answer is because it looks cool. If you spend your day-to-day job in a vehicle, you’re going to want to customize it in ways that don’t encroach on the company’s logo on the trailer. Fake spikes are cheap items that can be picked up at gas stations.

Some lawmakers have begun taking action against such ornamentation, declaring them a potential hazard that increases the width of trucks (which are already wide to begin with). In addition, some trucking companies have banned their use because they don’t want their vehicles (essentially traveling billboards) exhibiting a threatening persona on the road.

In the Future… Your car and those semi-trucks might drive themselves!

Sources: khon2, Quora