By on October 20, 2020

Germain McDaniel/Shutterstock.com

It was a bright summer day when our regular customer, a woman in her 30s or 40s who had a haircut that we’d now deem a “Karen”, was leaving the dealer with her brood after a routine service, probably an oil change and tire rotation.

I just happened to look up as she was leaving the dealership, just in time to see one of her luxo-barge’s wheels bouncing across the parking lot, as you see sometimes see after a NASCAR wreck. Fortunately for our GM’s sanity, it didn’t appear to hit any of the customer cars parked on that side of the store.

You know how sometimes people see something bad happening, and in shock, they laugh, even though it’s not appropriate? I laughed.

Thankfully, no one saw/heard me chortle. I took a breath, realized the severity of the situation, and went to flag down a manager or the service writer who’d taken her repair order. I don’t remember now if I was the bearer of bad news (I may have been) or if others in the service drive and showroom saw how it went down. I just remember a lot of scrambling. The dealership version of DEFCON 1.

I don’t know how much more deeply I can go into specifics on this, other than to say our regular and her kids were fine, and the dealer took good care of her. We also lost a good tech that day, as you might imagine.

I felt bad for laughing, it could’ve been a lot worse than a damaged suspension and one less technician on the payroll. What if that wheel had worked its way loose on the highway instead of in a parking lot at slow speeds?

In the end, the regular remained a regular, and talk of the incident died down, and we moved on.

Still, I will never forget the sight of that wheel going its own way, unencumbered by lugnuts.

Some time later, it nearly happened to me. On the interstate.

I was working at a different store, and my Accord needed an oil change and tire rotation. Why take it to the Honda dealer or my regular independent shop when I worked in a service department? One of our entry-level techs could do the job.

Which he did. Except the lugs weren’t quite tight.

They didn’t work themselves loose right away. It was right around the time I hopped on Interstate 88 to head towards the city for grad-school night class that the vibration made itself known. And while a 10-year-old car had some vibrations normally, this was different. You get to know your car after a while, and I knew this wasn’t normal.

Accords don’t typically shimmy and shake like Shakira, even after all those years and miles.

I limped it back to the shop, and the tech was still there. He tightened the nuts properly this time, and OK, fine, no harm, no foul. I liked the dude, and I knew it was an honest mistake, so I didn’t dime him out to management. He apologized profusely, and I was glad to have dodged a bullet.

I tell you these two stories not to scare you about techs forgetting to tighten your (lug) nuts the next time you get your tires rotated. But rather, to remind you that even good techs – the tech in the first story was one of the shop’s best – have bad days.

Should you be really worried about it, you can carry your own torque wrench. Otherwise, keep an eye out for that old shimmy-shimmy shake.

If this car’s a vibratin’ – yeah I don’t have a good rhyme for that. Just get it back to the shop, ASAP, and be prepared to hear a lot of apologies. If you don’t hear some sincere mea culpas, get yourself a new shop.

Loose wheels may look funny when a racecar wrecks, but they’re a service manager’s worst nightmare. When I think of that first story, my mind boggles at how much money that likely cost, in terms of a make-good.

There’s an old joke in service. When a customer has an odd complaint or is just odd, the smartasses in the service bay diagnose the issue as a “loose nut behind the wheel.” It’s the automotive equivalent of an IT guy saying “ID10T error” or PEKAC (“Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair”).

Those “loose nuts” behind the wheel can give a service-desk grunt gray hairs. But it’s still better to have a loose nut behind the steering wheel than several loose nuts at the actual wheels.

[Image: Germain McDaniel/Shutterstock.com]

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58 Comments on “Tales from the Service Desk: When the Wheels Fall Off...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’ve lost two wheels over time, both my fault .

    I await the stories to come rolling in .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Nobody touches my nuts except for me. And my wife.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    I was helping a friend check his brakes on a 1998 Dakota. After I put the left rear wheel on, I told him to tighten the lug nuts so I could check the front. About 2 weeks later while was driving on a back road in PA ~40mph, he felt a jolt and that wheel passed him doing about 30mph on the other side of the road. There was no traffic and it eventually fell over in someone’s front yard. No one was hurt and we fixed the truck with minimum fuss. He double checks all of his work now.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    That did happen to me, last December.

    I had just installed four brand-new air struts on my 2004 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas. The security lug nuts were difficult to remove, and ultimately broke, so I replaced them with an AutoZone set. Not only were they the wrong ones, I didn’t retighten them after driving for a while. For the next two days, I heard weird slapping around near the wheel, but didn’t put two-and-two together.

    On the third day, I turned out of a 7 Eleven, only to see my wheel break away and fly past me in the opposite direction, and on the other side of the road. It landed unscathed in a hill, having managed to avoid all of the other cars.

    The result: a new hub, brake disc, wheel liner and fender for that corner of the Jag. Oh, and OEM lug nuts all around (at $8 apiece), this time. Fortunately, the air strut was not damaged.

    Picture: https://imgur.com/a/oWuUDOV

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Kudos for owning that one, Kyree.

      I once had the lug *bolts* come loose on my 74 Fiat, back during the Reagan Administration. It was my fault, but it took highway driving a day later to discover it.

      Now I use a torque wrench.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    You should see what happens when a tractor-trailer is involved. I was the GM of two trucking companies and we would run into that problem more often than I care to recall. No loose lug-nuts but overheated bearings were usually he cause.

    About six years ago, I was headed west on I-10, just beyond Gulfport, Mississippi, when I noticed a tractor-trailer wheel heading, unattached, eastbound at about 70 MPH. It was surreal and I stifled a small laugh as I mumbled WTF, did I really see that? And then, I looked up and here comes another bounding across the median strip and headed right for me. I slowed slightly, and fortunately, the wheel was moving faster than I was and it bounced across the highway, in front of me, and disappeared into a ravine on the right hand side of the road.

    I was convinced that I would eventually come across a disabled, eastbound semi but I never did find the source of what could have been quite the smash-up.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My father was once driving on I-95 in Georgia at night when a wheel/tire came off the U-Haul trailer in front of him, leaving a shower of sparks behind it as the dragging axle ground into the pavement – failed wheel bearing.

      The tire bounced directly in front of his car and jumped cleanly over his roof. A few feet different, and it could have come right through the windshield.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I’ve done a lot of highway driving but I have yet to witness first hand a wheel coming loose. That’s one of those things that I always wonder if I’d react in time, as well as having the good fortune that the bouncing wheel simply miss me on its own.

      I have smelled impending blowouts of trucks up ahead of me, and I’ve successfully avoided the event by moving over, aggressively passing, or otherwise taking action that maybe I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t no kidding smell burning rubber (or overheated brakes, as was the case one time).

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I had a scary one last week – brake cylinder came off a semi- trailer and went through the air like a cannonball. SUV in front of me yanked the wheel and I really thought it was going to roll like an episode of CHiPs. I braked hard and it bounced past me in the median.

      My [email protected] roommate almost had the wheels come off his Volvo after putting his snow tires on years ago. I had cautioned him not to use my impact wrench to put them back on, but to use the torque wrench. Being lazy, he “gently” used the impact to put them back on. Finger tight (come to find out). Came to me a couple days later saying he thought his diff was going bad. I rode to the end of the driveway and knew what the problem was…

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        RE : Air brake cylinders :

        There’s a reason you’re supposed to cage them before taking them off the rig or opening them up to replace a leaky diaphragm .

        The internal coil spring is _really- strong and will enter your chest and splatter your spine against the shop wall….

        Many of the younger OTR drivers don’t understand that tiny cracks around the center of an allow wheel means it’s getting ready to go whist you’re under way .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      My dad almost lost a set of tires on one of his gravel trucks due to a tech forgetting to tighten lug nuts. He noticed the shimmy and spotted the wheels wobbling and pulled right over.

      I’ve typically have had the opposite occur. Lazy tech’s using an impact gun and overtightening the nuts. That has happened to me twice. It’s happened to several people I know.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      20 years ago, my wife and I were driving westbound on I-285 in Atlanta, when I saw something in the air off in the distance, on the eastbound side. It dropped down then bounced back up in the air, at which time I realized it was a wheel and tire, most likely from a utility trailer. I could also see it was on a collision course with our car. I waited until it was close enough to judge where it was going to hit, and made a hard right to avoid it. It missed the windshield, but glanced off of the side of our van, and fortunately there was no one along side us so we got away with the emergency lane change. The tire left a good bit of rubber on the van, but other than than we came out unscathed.

      If it had been at night and I couldn’t have seen it, it would have come through the windshield, and game over, man.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    For IT, there’s also PICNIC: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer!

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    In the near decade I worked in the service bay as a young fellow, I never had a job come back due to error. Ever.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    I hear the nitrogen-filled lug bolts will prevent an unplanned wheel separation, but they’re expensive.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    “You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheeeeeel….”

    Good couple of stories and a good lesson.

    You don’t *need* a torque wrench in your trunk kit- the spare tire wrench works fine if you find yourself roadside with a loose, but not yet detached, wheel.

    Best is to jack that corner up to take the weight off that wheel and properly tighten everything so that the wheel and hub mate properly. Tighten them as much as you can without knocking the car off balance or when the hub rotates, whichever occurs first. Then lower the car until *some* weight is on that wheel, tighten all of the lugs “pretty tight,” then lower the car to the ground for final torque.

    If you’re a strong guy and/or the wrench has a long handle, then proper torque for that final tightening isn’t going to take much. If your tire wrench is a little dinky jobber then you’ll probably have to pull pretty hard with both hands.

    That’s gonna get you close enough. Proper wheel torque is important, but wheels, hubs, and brake discs are pretty robust.

    If you’re sure what order to tighten your lug nuts or the “lefty-loosey/righty-tighty” thing confuses you, then in a crisis it may be safest for you to just throw in the towel, pay for a tow truck, post about your first world problems on social media, and take your medicine- which is your virtual friends and followers mocking your hopeless lack of self reliance.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Not tire-related, but a friend once got her oil changed at NTB, and drove two miles home with a clattering engine.

    Her boyfriend opened the hood to find the filler cap tucked aside, oil vapors spewed all over the engine/hood, and an empty crankcase. They never re-filled the engine with oil.

    The leased Mazda 6 seemed OK after it was filled and cleaned up, but all she got was an apology and a coupon for a free oil change.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Walmart cost my brother and sister in law $8K earlier this year when they failed to refill the oil and she drove home. And my brother, being an idiot, just filled the thing up with old himself and never said a word to anyone. Sigh. Motor made it about three weeks.

      To add insult to injury, when it started making bad noises, he took it to the Chevy dealer, who thought it was a busted flex plate, and took the transmission out. Before draining the oil and finding it full of shiny metal bits. When we told then no thanks to their estimate to fix it, they evidently bounced the transmission off the floor of the shop before putting it in the bed of the truck, and charged over a grand for the bad diagnosis and removing the tranny. And lost a bunch of brackets and bolts along the way. Another $7K to get it all sorted out with a used motor, replaced bellhousing, fixed main transmission pump, and labor. In hindsight, would have been cheaper to pay the Chevy dealer. Sigh.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      A Friend’s sister lost the oil cap on her Fiat Spyder. Her dad substituted one of those red shop rags. The Fiat has a double overhead cam engine. One of the cams got hold of the rag, pulled it in the valve train and turned it into a mass of pink fuzz, which ultimately stopped the engine. Fortunately, he was a mechanic by trade and pulled the engine and cleaned out all the fuzz. It only cost her an oil pump, a gasket set, and having the block hot tanked.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparmann

      And THAT is why I change my own oil (aside from the fact that it is a simple task that I enjoy doing!) I also rotate tires as necessary. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        All mechanics are idiots until proven otherwise. Even then you have to check their work. I’m no mechanic, but even I can see it’s stupid to stuff a rag where rockers can get at it.

        I’ve only paid to have my oil changed 4 times. Two of those times they only refilled the oil about half way.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I tend to have the opposite problem with shop techs: Lug bolts that should be 90 ft-lb get impact-wrenched to about 400. Breaking those suckers loose is always super fun.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      This is has been my experience as well.

      I do my own maintenance as much as possible and as someone who tracks their car I check my lug torque way more often then your average driver. Its on the inspection sheet you have to submit when going thru tech before your approved to hit the track.

      In traffic I’ve noticed vehicles that are missing lug nuts! In fact my neighbor who uses his van for Uber runs had only 4 out of 5 the other day. I even saw a nice Lexus SUV missing lugs before. Scary to think people are driving around like this.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Same thing here. Got tired of complaining and now just bring the car home, loosen all the lug nuts (more often than not, using a 1/2″ bar with a long piece of pipe) and re-torque everything.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I’m convinced that it’s a conspiracy to sell brake rotors.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        This topic came up this afternoon while changing rear brake pads with my son (Life lesson: When one of the caliper pins [per side] is corroded and stuck, you *will* get uneven pad wear, and the wear indicators may not do their job properly – good news is the intermittent squeak wasn’t the wheel bearings we replaced last year).

        Question – is the warped rotor issue primarily due to:
        a) *Over* torquing the lug nuts, or
        b) *Unevenly* torquing the lug nuts?

        (I’ve never seen a really clear explanation of exactly how this works.)

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Yeah, it’s kinda hit and miss whether a shop does this. Some of the dirtiest looking, low-end places do it properly while sometimes pricey dealers, with all their made-up customer service awards adorning the walls, do it the wrong way… and just the same like there are some good dealer service departments and bad independent shops.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      I’ve seen nuts too tight a number of times. And used a breaker bar with apiece of pipe to get them off. Some of them have probably been as tight as 300 ft-lb when the torque spec is more like 75 to 100.

      One of the great things about over tight lugs is that if you get a flat and want to install the spare — oops, can’t get those lugs off with the small crappy wrench that came with the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        The 2 times I discovered overtightened lug nuts, I applied torque to nut and if I got the sense it might shear I returned to the offending shop. Each time they did shear off studs and had to pay for the repair.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I lost my train of thought earlier just like the wheels in this article and comments.

      We, that is my fellow despisers of haphazardly overtorqued lug nuts and lug bolts, might be underestimating the power of social media reviews and online/virtual Karening to get revenge on the shops that badly over tighten our wheels.

      Just sayin’…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I’m to the point where as soon as I get my cars home from a shop touching the wheels, I loosen and re-torque the lug nuts/bolts myself. Easily 25% of the time they are overtightened.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Stuff happens. I still can’t explain how last Feb my car dropped its oil filter while parked. Or dropped it upon starting without having lost all its oil first.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Count me in as one who has lost a wheel at speed on the freeway. I hadn’t touched the tires in wheels in a long time, months at the minimum but it definitely showed signs of loose lug nuts. It was in my old Econoline and I had a load of wood in the back that wasn’t light. I had just got on the freeway when all of a sudden there was a lot of vibration from the RF as I let up on the gas to slow down and pull over bam, the RF dropped. I watched the wheel and tire bounce along in front of me and over to the median divider, thankfully w/o hitting any cars. The truck continued to track straight and I was able to drive/slide over to the shoulder and park it close to the guardrail, but not too close. A guy in a pickup that wasn’t too far behind pulled over put the wheel in his bed and brought it over to me.

    The seats were wallowed out like happens when driving with loose nuts, but also all of the studs were sheared off the rotor. The rotor had a pronounced D shape from sliding on the pavement. Surprisingly it didn’t leave more than a small mark on the road.

    I whipped out my phone found the O’Rielly’s near the next exit had the rotor in stock as well as the lug nuts and bearing cap. I called my wife who came and got me and took me to pick up the parts. It was definitely a pain getting it jacked up and working over/under the guard rail. But I managed to get in done, put the spare on and was back in business.

    The other instance, long ago, was when I was working at a independent shop/tire store. The customer had some cheap chrome multi-fit wheels. I think I did the brakes on it, or at least inspected them. Well a while later the customer came back and said that one of them had come loose. The bolt patter that fit his vehicle was shot. So the owner bought him another pair of wheels. The owner of course gave me an earful and the two wheels. Later I had a car that used the second pattern so I mounted up a set of tires and put them on. Well many weeks later a wobble started and wouldn’t you know it, it was one of those cheap wheels that had come loose. Luckily I caught it early and just tightened them up.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Guess that I have been driving too long. Too many related stories to list them all here.

    Remember when Chrysler vehicles had their lug nuts tightening/loosening opposite to every other manufacturer? The first time, we worked on one, we busted a stud/bolt.

    Tried to change a tire on a friend’s van on Highway 401. The tires had been on so long that it took 2 of us with a combined weight of over 500lbs and a 6 foot extension on the ‘torque wrench’ to pry it loose.

    Driving on the 401 in rush hour a tow truck just ahead of me had the brake drum ‘fly off’ a car it was towing. It struck my windshield. Luckily it hit flush.

    In Ontario about a decade ago there was a spate of tires ‘flying off’ transport trucks. Some fatalities resulted. New laws were enacted regarding circle checks etc.

    Just 2 years ago after routine maintenance notice that my engine sounded particularly loud. Opened up the hood when I got to my destination to find my oil cap tucked into the engine cover, and oil splattered throughout the engine compartment. My trusted mechanic had taken a call regarding a family emergency and forgot to screw the cap back on. In actuality the car lost very little oil. No harm no foul.

    Yes have had tires come loose. Luckily not to the extent that they have fallen off. Now I complete a monthly check of all our vehicles by manually tightening/checking every lug nut. Unfortunately for a few of the vehicles that means that the wheel covers have been permanently removed for ease of access.

    Recommendation is to have your lug nuts checked/re-tourqued 200 kms after having your tires swapped/rotated.

    Based on some postings above, I am going to order some OEM lug nuts for one vehicle and spares for the others.

  • avatar
    TrstnBrtt89

    I had a recent close call, I took my XC90 to a dealer that I knew to have some new rubber put on right at the beginning of the pandemic/lock down. I wasn’t driving my car that much and it totally slipped my mind to have the wheels re-torqued. Driving the car about a week later on the highway I had to pull over because the Swedish Canyonero all the sudden had developed an alarming clunking noise. Took a walk around and I noticed on the front left one of the wheel bolts had almost worked it’s way out. The other ones felt loose to the touch. I was able to tighten them with my tire iron and brought it back to the dealer the next day. I think the only thing that saved the wheel from coming off was the fact that it had bolts instead of lug nuts. It taught me a valuable lesson though.. Always get them re-torqued after they’ve come off.

  • avatar
    raph

    Really serious business when a wheel leaves a vehicle. They pack a lot of energy when they leave the vehicle and bounce down the road. I know of one particular case where a wheel left a vehicle and went through the windshield of an SUV resulting in the death of the husband and children while unfortunately leaving the wife alive in really bad shape to deal with the trauma.

    While not really involved – properly securing a wheel to the vehicle involves a bit more than throwing it on and running down the lugs until they are good and tight.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Mechanic/techs are often more human than human.

    Without a doubt you must QC the work before you leave the parking lot, the best you can in a couple minutes. Otherwise you’re 100% dependent on the “pro’s” state of consciousness, concentration, focus, etc. assuming they’re capable of doing the job correctly.

    Don’t we know humans are totally incapable of objectively doing the QC on their own work?

    Usually if they’re going to miss a step, it’s at the final stage of the job (since every step likely builds on the previous) and probably blatant and obvious to even the most mechanicaly inept.

  • avatar
    heycarp

    had a friend who managed a toyo service

  • avatar
    heycarp

    had a friend who managed a toyo service

    • 0 avatar
      heycarp

      had a friend who managed a toyo service dept –
      his crew of mechs took jobs as they came –
      one time motor overhaul – next time oil change –
      after many problems with these top line techs leaving oil filler caps off – he came up with a fix –
      every time oil fill cap was removed it had to be placed on hood latch – can’t close hood till you put the cap on –

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    On the subject of overtightening lug nuts:

    Why don’t more shops use torque sticks (torque-limiting extensions)?

  • avatar
    AlexMcD

    My first car was a 69 Camaro Red/Black Vinyl Roof, hockystick black stripe. 307/Powerglide. It had the rally wheels but I wanted more rubber in the back (to slow it even more). I bought American Racing aluminum wheels and longer studs and new lug nuts. They didn’t tell me to do anything special. I guess washers and retorquing are kind of important. I was driving my sister someplace when I saw shiny flashes outside my window. A bump/thunk followed as the now freed wheel rolled out of the wheelwell and ran off into the woods. My rear quarter was rolled up into the trunk. I was the worst thing to ever happen to that poor car.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    A few points about over torquing and under torquing-

    Breakaway torque when you’re loosening the nuts or bolts isn’t necessarily the same value as tightening torque. Suffice to say there are some details in the physics of threads, nuts and bolts and studs.

    If the car is sitting with its weight on its wheels then there is some more friction that wasn’t there if the wheels were torqued strictly by the book.

    The poor man’s way of torquing your lugs is with the weight off wheels and using something to keep the wheel from turning (I use my foot, wedged between the tire and the ground, with the bottom of the tire just barely above the ground so my foot isn’t actually underneath).

    This is sorta like saying you’re supposed to inflate tires with the weight off them, although in practice hardly anybody does that and the difference in reality is inconsequential, since tire pressure and lug nut/bolt torque are both kind of a safe range thing more than a precise, critical value. Guttentight is the practical upper limit (look that one up…).

    Either way you put your wheels on, the critical thing is for the lugs to be quite snug (more than finger tight) and the wheel-hub-brake rotor (or drum) to be mated snugly before dropping the car’s weight on that wheel. If you ensure that and you apply final torque after dropping the car, as do most people when they change a tire, then you’re gonna be fine.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Karen Gillian?
    Karen Biggs?
    Karen Hassan?
    Karen Carpenter?
    Karen Allen?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Happened to my brother who was driving and me riding shotgun.

    We were towing a double axle trailer, which fortunately was unloaded.

    As we rolled into a red light, I saw a tire overtake us, zoom through the red light and barely missed the cross intersection traffic.

    My brother let out a loud laugh, until I told him that the tire was probably ours.
    Which of course it was.

  • avatar
    Garak

    I swapped the winter tires on yesterday, and after half a mile heard telltale clunking from the rear. Forgot to tighten the lug nuts on one wheel, whoopsie.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    I did it, twice (30 years apart). Once my car, once my friend’s. I hope I learned something since then.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Certified Master Technicians have swapped my wheels maybe 20 or 30 times, leaving all of the lug nuts finger-tight on two of those occasions.

    By comparison I’ve done the job myself over a hundred times, making this mistake exactly once on a single wheel.

    To err is human, to torque your own nuts divine.

  • avatar
    justVUEit

    Not me but my neighbor, back in the ’80s… They had an AMC Eagle wagon. Driving down the highway they noticed the brake light come on, followed by the car dropping its left rear to the ground. At the same time, they saw the left rear wheel and axle shaft going past them and heading straight into a new car lot. Luckily the wheel/axle hit the berm and turned away from the lot before coming to a rest. The C clip in their rear diff had come apart causing the wheel/axle and the car to part ways.

  • avatar
    random1

    Happened to me at speed on the interstate. I was a relatively new driver(well, 20, but full-time student driving parents’ car). Picked up the car from shop with new brakes. Driving along and I’m getting vibration and just weird response. pulled over to take a look, nothing obvious, hubcaps were on and late at night. Dedided to get off next exit and take a better look, but wheel decided to take off before that. Left on the car were two sheared bolts, other three long gone. I skidded off to the right (luckily, right lane and towards the shoulder”, hit the cable guardrail that caught the bumper and spun the car around. So, the amount of body damage was such that car was totalled. It was a roughly 10 yr old Olds 88 sedan w 165k on the clock. After a brief attempt at restitution from the shop, my father dropped the issue, not reallly sure why. Mistakes happen, not owning up to it sucks. Luckily nobody hurt, and not a ton of value left in the car, obviously.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    It was about 30 years ago when a family friend was killed when a woman’s car that had just been serviced at a nearby tire store lost it’s front wheel at about 45MPH and hit our friend in the face, breaking his neck. I don’t know why the woman was arrested and charged, for a while, and then the charges were dismissed. She took her car to the tire store for 2 new tires and shocks and how did she know the dopey tech never tightened her lugs on the one wheel? I never knew how much our friend’s widow got in the settlement, but she took the 2 kids and moved to North Carolina, where I guess she still is. He had just gotten a promotion and was driving home to take his family out to dinner when he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    Whenever I think about one of these wheel falls off incidents where nobody gets hurt, I think of the all time worst screw ups I saw where a new GMC Sierra 4×4 was put on a rack and after it was fully lifted, it fell off and had major damage. The service manager came in and looked at it, and then the owner and his son came in, and they took the soon to be ex-owner of the Sierra back to the lot to find his new truck. The wrecked one ended up being donated to a local school for students to work on. I still can’t really figure out how it fell all the way off like it did. I’m guessing the tech didn’t swing the passenger’s side lift arms out at all? My car was 3 lifts away from it. Did I laugh? Yes, and almost every employee did too.

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