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car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic #5261479 11/08/19 07:43 AM
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Number_35 Offline OP
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Yesterday we were driving in heavy early-morning traffic, on a fairly major artery, two lanes N and two S, with an intermittent concrete median. We were in the curb lane, with a black Nissan SUV in front of us. Suddenly we saw a wheel out on the road to the left of the Nissan. The Nissan slowed gradually and came to a stop, sitting on three wheels and the front left rotor. The driver's-side fender was displaced. The wheel continued on, rolling west across three lanes and ending up on the far side. We stopped and waved cars down while the driver recovered his wheel. Couldn't help him reinstall the wheel as three of the five studs were sheared off. He said he'd just had the winter tires installed by a nearby indy shop.

No one was injured, and the runaway wheel did not strike any other vehicles.

I wish I'd had a dash cam. I also should have given the driver contact information, although I imagine he'll have no trouble with getting the shop to repair his car and provide him a loaner.

Anyway, this is just a reminder to check your lug nuts after a seasonal tire changeover. I try to always check all the lug nuts (using a torque wrench) even after I've done each wheel individually, and then check them again a week or so later.

I've found that alloy wheels are way more prone to loosening up than steel wheels, so would expect to see this more often in Spring than Fall.

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261496 11/08/19 07:57 AM
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I saw something similar awhile back.

Heading down a two lane road, oncoming was a pickup truck with some sort of company logo. It was a Chevrolet, I think, not sure which model. A second after it passed me, I heard a bang and looked in my rearview to see him go off the road onto the shoulder, the wheel flying at immense speed off into the nearby field.

Turned around to make sure he was alright, and we find that the wheel hub seized together and the wheel locked at speed, snapped off, and took the hub / brakes with it off into the field. Luckily he was able to maintain enough control to get to the shoulder instead of oncoming traffic.

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261501 11/08/19 07:59 AM
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We do not seasonally change wheels / tires . Never used a torque wrench on a lug nut . Just tighten it tight .

Years ago I saw a RWD vehicle , after the axle bearing failed & the wheel , tire & axle came off . After the fact .

Life and machines are not perfect , 100% of the time .


Wyr
God bless
Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261506 11/08/19 08:04 AM
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Good advice and check pressures while you're at it. I just had a screw removed yesterday and DT thoughtfully aired all 4 up to 38-39 (checked cold) when the placard says 33, not what I want on upcoming slippery roads. He did check all 4 with a torque wrench though.


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Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261532 11/08/19 08:21 AM
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brages Offline
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I was struck on the freeway by a runaway wheel that had jumped the median. It landed on my hood and bounced over my pickup. It did a lot of damage, setting off the airbag, crushing the hood and radiator support and breaking the radiator, condensor, and IAC valve.

Had it hit the windshield instead of the hood, it could have been fatal... The police located the driver who had lost the wheel. Of course, he didn't have insurance, and I only carried liability, so I was out of luck.

Once I forgot to tighten the lug nuts after working on my car... the vibration and noise made it obvious that something was wrong. Hilariously, I had used the car's lug wrench to remove the wheel when I was working on it, and didn't re-pack it in the car, so I was without a wrench to put the lugs back on. Anyway, a driver who can ignore a wobbly wheel until it falls off is IMO quite oblivious.

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: AZjeff] #5261535 11/08/19 08:24 AM
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Number_35 Offline OP
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I typically put more air in than the recommended pressure, as the pressure will drop to around recommended as the temperatures fall. For example, I had our tires at 36 PSI (factory spec is 34 PSI) when I was installing them at around 0 C, but the pressure will drop by the time it's -30 C. In fact, I may have to add air at that point.

I'd guess you don't see the same temperature drop in Arizona, although maybe at 5000' you do.

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: brages] #5261552 11/08/19 08:35 AM
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Number_35 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by brages
Once I forgot to tighten the lug nuts after working on my car... the vibration and noise made it obvious that something was wrong. Hilariously, I had used the car's lug wrench to remove the wheel when I was working on it, and didn't re-pack it in the car, so I was without a wrench to put the lugs back on. Anyway, a driver who can ignore a wobbly wheel until it falls off is IMO quite oblivious.
Ack, I wish I couldn't relate, but unfortunately I can.

Some years ago I was doing some rust repair on our ancient econobox ('82 Mazda GLC - truly a great little car) and had the carpet and seats out, and the wheels off. I put just the driver's seat back (and the wheels of course) to run an essential errand and forgot to tighten one of them. Was stuck without tools when the vibration started. Tightened the lug nuts by hand, drove slowly, and borrowed a ratchet and socket at my destination. Scared the heck out of me!

Just a few years ago, oldest son and his wife were borrowing our car for an epic trip. I bought two new tires as the old ones had nasty sidewall cracks, my wife picked them up from the tire shop, and my son installed them before I got home from work, eager to get going. He assured me he'd checked the lug nuts, but I did my OCD final check anyway, and found the lug nuts loose on one of the front wheels. Good life lesson without disastrous consequences.

And then finally, just a few weeks ago, my wife was complaining about a noise from the front of the car. Sure enough, one of the alloys had worked loose. Even though I'm sure it was OK back in April, I should have rechecked it at some point over the summer. I'm now fairly committed to checking the torque every month or so. Takes five minutes all around, and could prevent a disaster.

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261556 11/08/19 08:37 AM
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JeffKeryk Online Content
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I have to believe the vehicle must have been shaking for some time.
Brages pointed this out. It is obvious something is wrong.
Glad no one was hurt.


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Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261579 11/08/19 08:54 AM
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A shop did a state inspection on my wife's Volvo. This requires removal of two wheels (one front and one rear) to check the brake lining thickness.

Three weeks later, my wife told me her car was clunking and had vibrations. I told her to drive it straight to the shop, that something serious was wrong.

The shop found that one lug bolt was missing, the other five loose. They charged her $70 for the diagnosis and a new lug bolt.

Not bad.

Except that it was the same shop that had done the state inspection three weeks earlier.


Yeah.

Bozos abound. Mistakes get made.



I don't go to the shop any more, even though it's owned by my neighbor. Can't take the chance primarily, you don't get a second chance to screw up that badly, and since they didn't even consider that it was their fault, and charged her for their mistake while I was out of town, I will never give them another $.

Last edited by Astro14; 11/08/19 08:55 AM.

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Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: JeffKeryk] #5261582 11/08/19 08:57 AM
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4WD Offline
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Yeah, had a dealer forget to torque a rear wheel on a Dodge Durango years back. I turned a corner and it raised heck. Strange enough it was not detected going straight at 30 mph. Studs and wheel were trashed … dealer ate all that.
(studs did not shear)

Sadly … the former owners of my house died from this … new tires, no wheels torqued, and they rolled an SUV. Long careers, just retired, and headed to a resort/casino in Louisiana … didn’t get too far.

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261667 11/08/19 10:26 AM
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Some years ago. I was on a section of local interstate. A flatbed truck had just passed us and the next thing you know a trailer tire and wheel was rolling across the road in front of me. There was heavy traffic with cars in the left passing line. I hit that tire what a mess to my civic.


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Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261705 11/08/19 11:20 AM
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45 years ago a medical school class-mate had a front wheel fall off his clapped out Valiant or Dart. He was going less than 5 MPH at the time. He was lucky. The car had been making "a lot of noise" but he hadn't bothered to look into it. That wheel loss should have been preventable.

35 years ago a dentist friend bought a nearly new, well known brand of German car as a demonstrator. Some time later a front wheel fell off at speed. It turns out that the car had been in a crash and had been repaired (by the dealership!) using after-market parts. He insisted that it be repaired using only OEM parts. Some time later the same front wheel fell off again. He sold the car shortly afterwards.

30 years ago I was in the market for a second car and a promising sounding well known brand of German car came on the market, the same make and model as my friend had owned. It all seemed very promising. Purely as a lark I asked whether any of the wheels had ever fallen off. Why yes, how did I know that, one of the front wheels had fallen off! I didn't buy the car.


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Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261736 11/08/19 12:01 PM
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Was driver a Russian or from one of those former USSR territories? Seems wheels coming off happens often in that part of the world. Sometimes it's even the entire axle with both duel wheel assemblies or a wheel with an axle. I don't think there is much vehicle maintenance carried on in the former Soviet block countries. From what I have seen on YouTube they don't have any driving skills at all. They really like making a you-turn from the far curb lane across several lanes of traffic.

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Number_35] #5261765 11/08/19 12:33 PM
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Danh Offline
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My older brother had just changed the left front tire on our 1954 Chevy. We started driving on the highway and did hear a noise. He was pointing at the left front when the tire came off, rolled across the thankfully unoccupied lane and wound up in the ditch. The car, of course, banged down on the brake drum and came to to stop on the right shoulder after leaving a nice gouge in the asphalt.

I was 11. Dad was not pleased. To this day I’m obsessive about this and my daughter has picked up on it: on of her suitors had a tire separate from his Jeep and she bailed out on the relationship. After all, how irresponsible can a person be?

Re: car in front lost a wheel in heavy traffic [Re: Danh] #5261812 11/08/19 01:40 PM
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ragtoplvr Online Content
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Originally Posted by Danh
My older brother had just changed the left front tire on our 1954 Chevy. We started driving on the highway and did hear a noise. He was pointing at the left front when the tire came off, rolled across the thankfully unoccupied lane and wound up in the ditch. The car, of course, banged down on the brake drum and came to to stop on the right shoulder after leaving a nice gouge in the asphalt.

I was 11. Dad was not pleased. To this day I’m obsessive about this and my daughter has picked up on it: on of her suitors had a tire separate from his Jeep and she bailed out on the relationship. After all, how irresponsible can a person be?

Read this to answer your question.

https://www.brm.co.nz/brittany-morrow-the-queen-of-road-rash/

That boy should be glad I was not her father. he was riding so fast he basically blew her off the back of the bike. Supposedly never even visited her in the hospital.

Rod

Last edited by ragtoplvr; 11/08/19 01:43 PM.
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