How to Replace the Wheel Center Caps in an Aston Martin DB9

Rolling along slow in or out of the garage I could hear a quite ‘Rattle – Rattle – Rattle’ in my DB9.  Not like a loose nut and bolt, but a quieter shuffling rattle.  While I was washing the car one day I finally found the source – the Wheel Center Cap on one rim was loose, and could flop around making the noise.

Epoxy Repair to back of tabs. Yes, that is a Ford logo on there too.

The center caps are a beautiful painted piece with the Aston Martin wings on them, but they are still just made out of plastic.  They just press/snap fit into the center hole of each wheel.  13 years in the California sun and heat takes its toll, and the fingers on the back of the caps weren’t springy any more.  Each time the tires have to be changed they need to be removed, so that’s at least two or three times.  Worse yet, I eventually discovered the one in question had been damaged, and a quick fix with some epoxy employed to hold the cracked tabs in place.  DPO (damn previous owner).

Changing them is a pretty simple task, and here’s how to do it.

Parts Required

As far as I am aware you can only get these from Aston Martin.  There were multiple styles of finish of the wheels (painted anthracite, chromed, etc.) so you will need to select the right part for your car.  They come in four packs (costing between $75 and $100 USD depending on the finish), and I believe you can source them individually if needed.  My advice is to definitely contact your dealer to get the correct part selected.  You can see a selection of the finishes online here on HWM England’s website.

I’d suggest you email Richard Hayward at HWM England the info about your car (and tell him you heard about him from Aston1936.com) and he’ll be sure you are getting the right parts at the right price. [Note: HWM can’t ship to the USA any longer due to a ridiculous Aston Martin imposed ban protecting the US dealerships, but they can ship to the rest of the world]

Tools Required

Not many needed for this simple task:

  • Wooden Handle from a hammer or mallet
  • Clean pair of hands
  • Micro fiber towel

Procedure

You have to remove the road wheel to properly change these.  You’ll spend more time jacking up the car and removing the wheels than you will popping out the old center caps and installing the new ones.   Here are some other articles to help you get the wheel off:

[Updated:  See bottom of this article for a way to do it with the wheels still on….]

Once the wheel is off, the process is simply:

  • With the wheel upright, use the wooden handle of you hammer/mallet to gently poke the center cap out.
  • Use your other hand to catch the center cap as it pops out
  • Use the Micro Fiber towel to clean the socket where the cap sets into.  This area is full of crud that you couldn’t properly wash with the cap in place.
  • Carefully lay the wheel flat on its back on the floor
  • Position the new center cap.  Note that there is a notch in the wheel rim that has to align with a tab on the center cap.
    • Make sure the notch is aligned and the tabs are all started in the opening.
  • Press the palm of one hand over the top of the new cap keeping it level with some even pressure
  • Use your other hand to thump down on the back of your first hand to press the center cap home over the resistance of the tabs and spring.   Doing it this way keeps it flat and stops it from cocking over if you were just trying to press it in.   It should easily click down into place.

Now reinstall the road wheel and properly torque the wheel nuts.  These few articles and videos might help:


Changing them without removing the wheels

Updated October 14, 2018

A reader of this blog had a great suggestion to avoid having to go to all the hassle of removing the wheels. I didn’t do it this way (so no photos or video) but let me know how it works for you if you try it.

  • Use a 1/4″ drill bit and drill a hole through the center of the cap (right in the middle of the Aston logo).
    • Be careful the drill doesn’t run amok
  • Use the largest L Shaped allen key you have in your collection that will fit through the hole, and work the short end of the L into the hole.
  • With the allen key in the hole and long end now straight out like a handle (short end is flat against the back of the cap), grip and pull the cap straight out.

With any luck the cap pops out and you just have to follow the rest of my procedure above to align and pop the new one in with the palm of your hand.

This method will destroy the old caps, but if you are about to toss them out, what does it matter.


Video

Here is a quick video showing the process above.

One thought on “How to Replace the Wheel Center Caps in an Aston Martin DB9

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