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Wheel fell off my car
Old 12-30-2015, 12:46 PM   #1
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Wheel fell off my car

I was driving along and not too fast or anything. Heard a strange noise and the steering started shaking. But before I could find anywhere to stop the rear wheel fell off my car.

Got towed to the nearest garage and after a couple of days they got a new wheel fitted. I'll be back over the holidays to repair the damage to the chassis.

The mechanic who did the job thinks that the wheel fell off because of sloppiness from the garage where I got my new tires a couple of weeks earlier. I know about and did tighten the wheel nuts a while after getting new tires on. But they were all OK.

I have reported his findings to the insurer. Is there anything else I should do? Is there any chance of me not having to pay for this?
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:13 PM   #2
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Hopefully the name you use on this forum (Christine) is your name and not the name of your car. If it is the name of your car, and it's an older Plymonth, sell it..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_%281983_film%29

Seriously, you could contact the garage where you got the tries and tell them what happened and what the repair shop said. It probably won't get you anywhere, but if you think that's what happen you should give it a try. I think the problem is going to be you drove the car a couple of weeks after you got the tires before you had the problem. It may be hard to prove or get them to accept any responsibility.
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:18 PM   #3
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Although it was a couple of weeks, perhaps you don't drive that car much, and the mileage since the work was done is low.

Usually on a work order they list the mileage as they use it for basis of a warranty. Check that and your odometer.

We drive 1 car maybe once a week for a few miles, so it can take us 3 weeks to put 10 miles on the car. If you are like that, your case becomes pretty strong.
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Old 12-30-2015, 01:22 PM   #4
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I have reported his findings to the insurer. Is there anything else I should do? Is there any chance of me not having to pay for this?
Probably Maybe.

I had a similar instance a few years ago when the right rear wheel came off my new truck - at 60 mph - while pulling a 11,500 lb trailer. Insurance covered the ~$2,000 in repairs until I convinced GM to reimburse me for the cost. I then repaid the insurance company (they were shocked).
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Old 12-30-2015, 02:24 PM   #5
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On the freeway last week, I noticed a car with a wobbly rear wheel that was about to fall off. I wanted to warn the driver, but he drove too fast for me to catch up.

Some years ago, on a freeway with not too much traffic, I saw a VW Beetle immobilized in the middle lane. As I passed it on the left lane, I saw that it missed the front left wheel, and the driver was sitting there stunned. About 1/2 mile down the freeway, I caught up with the wheel. It was still rolling, and other cars were swerving to avoid it.

Nowadays, it would be great to have caught the scene with a dashcam.
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Old 12-30-2015, 03:05 PM   #6
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Thank you for your answers!

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Originally Posted by Car-Guy View Post
Hopefully the name you use on this forum (Christine) is your name and not the name of your car.


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Seriously, you could contact the garage where you got the tries and tell them what happened
My insurer said they would contact their insurer. I'm not sure I'm better at making a deal here?

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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
Although it was a couple of weeks, perhaps you don't drive that car much, and the mileage since the work was done is low.
Thank you - that is my situation. The car was parked at home except for the last 2 days.
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Old 12-30-2015, 03:33 PM   #7
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Glad that you survived to tell what happened . To have a wheel come off must have been terrifying.

Usually the opposite happens where the car places put a tire on too darn tight.
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Old 12-30-2015, 03:53 PM   #8
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You did not say.... did it fall off because the lug nuts were gone?

Or did the bolts get stripped....

Or did another component of the wheel break....
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Old 12-30-2015, 06:10 PM   #9
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You did not say.... did it fall off because the lug nuts were gone?

Or did the bolts get stripped....

Or did another component of the wheel break....
Something with the way the nuts were fastened. The bolts were damaged.
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Old 12-30-2015, 06:46 PM   #10
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Something with the way the nuts were fastened. The bolts were damaged.
Sounds like overtightened with an air impact?
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Old 12-30-2015, 07:13 PM   #11
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Were the lug nuts still on the studs? in other words, did the studs break? Or did the nuts come off?

DS has had a wobbly wheel on a couple different occasions shortly after his tires were changed and in both cases it was a loose lug nut. In both cases we were able to tighten them and then it was fine. We no longer patronize that shop.

Like others, I would start with trying to blame the shop that changed your tires, especially if the lugs were broken as that would suggest that the lugs were overtorqued. If that is the case, then it might have warped the rotors too if that wheel has disc brakes.
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Old 12-30-2015, 07:41 PM   #12
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It cannot hurt to go back to the original garage and raise hell a bit. Are you comfortable getting a bit loud if needed? Wheel's don't just fall off cars, and perhaps if you can get a written statement from the other garage and wave that around a bit.

You have nothing to lose, but I might ask your insurer if they want you to stay out of it or not.
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Old 12-30-2015, 08:19 PM   #13
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Something with the way the nuts were fastened. The bolts were damaged.
It was most likely that the lug nuts were not sufficiently tightened. When they loosened, the wheel wobbled and chewed up the threads on the wheel studs. One should be able to see the damage on the wheel mounting holes, and not just the studs.

In some other cases, they would overtighten the nuts with an impact wrench. My BIL had this happened to him, and he was not able to remove them when he had a flat. Another shop had to take them off with an impact wrench, and found that the threads on the studs were stripped and had to be replaced.

At Costco or Discount Tire, the mechanics have to use a calibrated torque wrench to make sure the nuts are tightened by hand to specifications. At one Costco, I saw that they required another mechanic to verify with another torque wrench to double check. I do not know if they still do that.

I have my own torque wrench, but do not always double check at home after a tire service.
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Old 12-30-2015, 09:26 PM   #14
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Agree it was likely not torqued properly, and being too loose. You should go back to the tire installation place and tell them you expect them to cover the repairs, since it was their fault. Especially given the low miles since you did not drive for 2 weeks.
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Old 12-30-2015, 09:37 PM   #15
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The mechanic who did the job thinks that the wheel fell off because of sloppiness from the garage where I got my new tires a couple of weeks earlier. I know about and did tighten the wheel nuts a while after getting new tires on. But they were all OK.
Does this mean that you actually did something to the wheels, after the garage did their work which is being questioned as faulty? If so, wouldn't this somehow change the responsibility and liability of the original garage that put on new tires for you?
If you actually "tighten" the wheel nuts after they did work, why would they be responsible for the result of your actions?
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Wheel fell off my car
Old 12-30-2015, 10:37 PM   #16
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Wheel fell off my car

Once upon a time, a friend had a 64 Impala, that set for a long while due to mechanical issues (don't remember what...) while he was away at college. Nice 2-door, 327ci, 4-on-the-floor (and a fifth under the seat), set of Indy mags...

Anyway, a mechanic friend came by to tow it a few miles out to his shop. The mechanic and I rode in the pickup/tow truck, and the car owner "drove" the dead Impala. A few miles went by, then the right front wheel came off the car. Seems someone had tried to steal the mags, and all the lugnuts were gone, except for the one locknut.

We looked for that damned wheel for 30 minutes or so, and could not find it. Frustrated, we took a smoke break. We were leaning on the car, smoking whatever it was we might have been smoking, when I happened to glance up at a wooden utility pole some twenty feet up the road, and I noticed a skid mark about ten feet up. The wheel has rolled off, bounced when it hit the ditch, ricocheted off the pole, then shot back the other direction. We had been looking in front of the car, but the wheel ended up behind us...
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:18 PM   #17
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We looked for that damned wheel for 30 minutes or so, and could not find it. Frustrated, we took a smoke break...
Great story.

"Dude, where's my car wheel?"
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Old 12-31-2015, 06:26 AM   #18
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Reminds me of Ron White. Lug nut college.

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Old 12-31-2015, 06:39 AM   #19
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Sorry I have nothing to add to help the original poster but two tire falling off stories.

As a young airman in 1977, my wife and I were stationed in England. We lived off base and I bought a 25 year old Volkswagon Beetle which was as much rust as metal but it had a 6 month MOT (inspection sticker) so was all we needed. One morning, I left for work and the left front tire fell off but car stayed upright until I got out to inspect the damage. It then fell on it's side, poor thing. Replaced tire and on my way.

Sometime in the early 70's, my dad was driving home from work on the Interstate and a tire that had come off a semi truck hit his car head on, bounced up and hit the top of the car, and then continued down the road. My dad was unhurt but still remember the tow truck bringing the car home- a nice u-shaped dent that took out the front of the car, the radiator, and the fan along with a nice dent on the top of the car. We pushed the dent in the top out by hand and my dad fixed the front end himself- boy do I wish I had a picture of the repair as it was still obvious once completed what had happed- his fix to the hood was made from using some metal from an old heater duct he had laying around and a good portion of bondo.

My dad was very thrifty, he worked for a major car company and sometimes a group of employees would meet up with the truck that would deliver antifreeze to the factory a number of miles away after a delivery. By that time, antifreeze that had been on the sides of the truck tank while at the factory would have drained down to the bottom so could be "salvaged" in to various cans on the side of the highway.

Sorry to go so far off topic but this thread triggered some memories!
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Old 12-31-2015, 07:17 AM   #20
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Please tell your wheel-related stories - I love them. This has been my most popular thread by a good margin!

Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Sounds like overtightened with an air impact?
I have no idea. So I leave it to the pros to find out.

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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Were the lug nuts still on the studs? in other words, did the studs break? Or did the nuts come off?
The nuts came off and the studs were worn down.

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Originally Posted by Aerides View Post
It cannot hurt to go back to the original garage and raise hell a bit. Are you comfortable getting a bit loud if needed? Wheel's don't just fall off cars, and perhaps if you can get a written statement from the other garage and wave that around a bit.

You have nothing to lose, but I might ask your insurer if they want you to stay out of it or not.
Yes I will let them decide. I'm not much of a hellraiser.

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In some other cases, they would overtighten the nuts with an impact wrench.
I did watch them working - the tool looked like a drill. Also on the wheel in question they needed extra force to get off the old nuts. So they used a long rod. They did the previous wheel change too as it is my regular garage.

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Agree it was likely not torqued properly, and being too loose. You should go back to the tire installation place and tell them you expect them to cover the repairs, since it was their fault. Especially given the low miles since you did not drive for 2 weeks.
Thanks. I'll check with the insurers first.

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Does this mean that you actually did something to the wheels, after the garage did their work which is being questioned as faulty? If so, wouldn't this somehow change the responsibility and liability of the original garage that put on new tires for you?
If you actually "tighten" the wheel nuts after they did work, why would they be responsible for the result of your actions?
Yes I did. I live in Norway and we all need to put on winter tires each fall. It's the law. And we all get told to check the wheel nuts after driving for a day or so. And that is what I did. Tried to tighten the nuts by hand. But they were all OK.
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