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Thread: Does the removal of the wheel covers affect mpg's?

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    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Does the removal of the wheel covers affect mpg's?

    I have a question, I know this may sound stupid, but i'm curious to find out if the removal of the wheel covers will affect fuel economy. Here's my take on this, as your driving, the air around the car will run along the sides of the car and because there is a small gap between the steel rim and the cover itself, that the air will go in between the cover and the rim and along the outside of the cover and that the covers would interrupt the aerodynamics and therefore decrease fuel economy. They also weigh about a pound each, and it's rolling weight not static weight so it would be wasting more fuel.

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    I doubt it. The only way to test it. Fill up the car, with gas. With wheel covers on. On the highway, drive it till it nearly empty. A Certain amount of set miles. Fill it up. Figure The gas mileage. Do the same without the wheel covers. You won’t see a difference. Wheel cover, weight nothing.

    You might see a little difference with a lighter alloy wheel. Very very little. The shape of a 500 is like a block of Soap. Not really that aerodynamic.

    There where Alloy wheel designs, that were flat as a pancake. Designed for fuel economy, on some hybrids vehicles.

    Last edited by smark; 08-01-2020 at 10:31 PM.

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    Amministratore Fiat500USA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco Reviews... View Post
    I have a question, I know this may sound stupid, but i'm curious to find out if the removal of the wheel covers will affect fuel economy. Here's my take on this, as your driving, the air around the car will run along the sides of the car and because there is a small gap between the steel rim and the cover itself, that the air will go in between the cover and the rim and along the outside of the cover and that the covers would interrupt the aerodynamics and therefore decrease fuel economy. They also weigh about a pound each, and it's rolling weight not static weight so it would be wasting more fuel.
    Wheel covers are factored into aerodynamics, so I wouldn't be surprised if you increased drag without the covers.



    For example, Fiat paid special attention to the 500e wheel covers. The black "Pedal" designs are inserts and improve aerodynamics. You can read about it here: Fiat 500e at Detroit Auto Show

    The biggest fuel economy improvements generally fall upon changing driving habits and techniques.
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    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    The 5oo is quite aerodynamic... IF you compare it to the Panda and 5ooL. The 5oo Colour Therapy has some retro style caps which I imagine would do better on mpg's because there are less holes and it has a 14 inch rim behind it.

    Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 19.39.06.jpg
    Fiat 5oo
    Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 19.42.38.jpg
    Fiat Panda
    Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 19.43.39.jpg
    Fiat 5ooL
    Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 19.45.34.jpg
    Bar of Soap
    Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 19.48.21.jpg
    5oo w/ retro aerodynamic moon caps that may or may not overheat your brakes because of the lack of holes
    Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 19.51.48.jpg
    5oo Colour Therapy with retro style caps.

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    Senior Member Rocco Reviews...'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiat500USA View Post
    Wheel covers are factored into aerodynamics, so I wouldn't be surprised if you increased drag without the covers.



    For example, Fiat paid special attention to the 500e wheel covers. The black "Pedal" designs are inserts and improve aerodynamics. You can read about it here: Fiat 500e at Detroit Auto Show

    The biggest fuel economy improvements generally fall upon changing driving habits and techniques.
    I remember when the first cover fell off, my mom say a 5ooE and thought that they were aerodynamic wheel covers that we could put on our car. WRONG we were, as soon as I got home and looked them up and saw "aluminium alloy build", that's when I knew that they were real wheels.
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    Wheel covers definitely affect aerodynamics and in turn fuel economy. As an example the Tesla Model 3 with the aero covers gets something like ~10% better range than with with the covers removed (all other things equal). That said the Fiat is probably less reliant on good aero to get good MPG since it's such a light and small car.

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    Moderator map's Avatar
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    Yeah, Tesla claims 10% improvement. Personally I think most of that claim is more in the tires/wheels used than in the caps. Smaller wheels and larger tires are most of that gain, mostly in reduced rolling resistance.

    For ICE, most of the loss is in the driveline... explained here. The belly pan likely makes a bigger difference. https://jalopnik.com/heres-why-aerod...y-n-1823965225

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    Bonneville flat race cars, are use these flat pie pan wheel covers. For better Aerodynamics. The flatter the wheel cover the better. Less Turbulence. Improve fuel economy, and speed. They would look great, on a Fiat 500.



    Last edited by smark; 12-06-2020 at 06:22 PM.

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    Keep in mind, the apparent air flow across the top of your tire is double your travelling speed, because it's moving forward. The bottom is stationary to the road. But as drag is proportional to speed squared, it adds up to more drag than if the wheels weren't turning somehow (spinners? LOL).

    Take the Kia Nero...

    The only driveline difference between these two models is the FE has 16" alloys with aerodynamic covers, and the Touring has 18" alloys with deep spokes:

    Screenshot_20201207_081909.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by smark View Post
    Bonneville flat race cars, are use these flat pie pan wheel covers. For better Aerodynamics. The flatter the wheel cover the better. Less Turbulence. Improve fuel economy, and speed. They would look great, on a Fiat 500.



    The brakes would probably overheat so I wouldn't do that lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by map View Post
    Yeah, Tesla claims 10% improvement. Personally I think most of that claim is more in the tires/wheels used than in the caps. Smaller wheels and larger tires are most of that gain, mostly in reduced rolling resistance.

    For ICE, most of the loss is in the driveline... explained here. The belly pan likely makes a bigger difference. https://jalopnik.com/heres-why-aerod...y-n-1823965225
    Yeah it depends, it was just an example that it can have a surprising huge impact. Though I agree with you, I wouldn't use Jalopnik as a source for anything that's like citing a snapchat story haha.

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