Frozen lug to busted bearing? Is it possible? Or just lucky?

94 SL320

Flat tire. Lug wont budge. Call to tire shop who used gun when I told them not to. Guy comes out with gun. Wont budge. Breaker bar wont budge probably gonna break.

Tow to different shop.

Shop well get it off. Gun no go. Diesel 3500 pound torque gun - no go. Torch to heat it. No go. Torch to melt it. Rim melted first but the tire came off.
The wheel when I saw it in the trunk after picking up the car was destroyed. I expected that but the back of the rim was destroyed oddly. Like the lip of the rim was destroyed.

Spare is on, with new tire.

One day later. The very next day Im driving 55 mph and puh puh puh puh. Not a flat but the sound that a card makes in the spokes of a bicycle. I pull off both wheels and nothing. I do see a big dent in the shield around the caliper on the bottom. A dent that can only be made with wheel off.

Take it back to same shop we go for a ride. He immediately says center bearing on drive shaft. Puts on lift sound clearly coming from center area and sounds like something is hitting the heat shield.

$800 ballpark repair.

Question If the car was dropped could this ruin the center bearing? Is it odd that the bearing went out the very next day? No sound whatsoever prior. Possibly something stuck on the shaft?

The drive shaft goes into the rear differential. The differential has arms out to each wheel to provide drive.

If I understand your description of the dented shield, it does sound like they may have dropped the car when the wheel came off. The drop might also explain the damage to the inside of the rim.

It sounds plausible that they may have damaged the wheel bearing in the process. I would certainly complain about all the damage they caused, to the rim, the bent dust shield, and possibly the wheel bearing.

In my opinion, there is no connection. The wheel is so far away from the center bearing that the two failures must be coincidental. There are at least 3 other bearings between the rear wheel and center (or carrier) bearing that should have seen much more stress than the center bearing. You are driving a 19 year old car. I also have cars that are 18 to 25 years old I’m currently driving, and, at this age, anything can break or fail at any time. I think you just got hit with an unfortunate coincidence.

Unlikely to be related. Make sure the lugs on the other wheels are hand torqued to spec.


This is after the fact, but you should have taken your car to a Benz specialist that has one of these.

All other methods almost always damage the rim

Sure the threads weren’t left handed? I would have thought that one of those methods simply would have snapped the stud off is all.


I assure you the threads were NOT left handed?

Being familiar with OP’s car, I’m 100% certain of that


important question

Do you have chrome rims?

Your answer will influence my next response to you

Yep chrome rims. Flaking, slow leak causing chrome rims.

To previous posters. I don’t care about the rim. Just whether anything described could cause damage to center bearing. (Not wheel bearing)

@bing Positive not left. Have removed every wheel countless times.

Tend to agree re age of car & issues. Just seems like you drive into a shop & can’t leave w /o paying more than 500…


FWIW . . . I used to work at a Benz dealer as a mechanic. The ONLY cars on which we ever had to drill out lug bolts were those with chrome rims


I think not

i believe the lug bolts may have seized against the chrome. In any case, the dissimilarity of the metal is the only explanation I can think of.

As for the slow leaking . . . unfortunately that problem was also almost exclusive to chrome rims.
The tire bead could not make a perfect seal against the chrome rim.

Now I know for a fact that you, or a previous owner, had those rims chromed AFTER the car was built. Benz did not sell factory chromed rims back then. They were AGAINST it, claiming the heating process to apply the chrome actually damaged the rim.

Here’s an idea, and it’s not exactly a recommended practice . . .

Remove all of the lug bolts
Clean them thoroughly
Also clean the holes in the rim where the lug bolts fit

Apply a very small amount of antizeize to the cone shaped part of the lug bolt, the part that comes in contact with the rim . . . NOT THE THREADS

This might help prevent future lug bolt seizures

But . . . IMO . . .the only sure way to prevent this is to mount a factory set of unchromed rims

They didn’t necessarily drop the car, and the two items are related. If they added enough heat to melt the rim and the lug nut, then they destroyed the bearing at that time. The bearing was damaged either from the grease being cooked off or the nylon ball cage melting, or both.

@keith, the bearing in question is the center bearing that holds the center of the two piece driveshaft up, not a wheel bearing. If torch heat on the lug affected this bearing, a lot of other parts would br burnt or melted. Just saying.

Some service manuals say to not use a thundergun on the nut on a halfshaft because it can do damage to the transmission rear diffs. This wasn’t done to the axle nut but something in that general area so who knows: all this violence did damage on an older part but I doubt it can be proven.
It could, of course, also be coincidence.
Regardless, I think it is on your dime.

BustedKnuckles got lost in the op trying to translate what he was talking about half the time, forgot that it was not an FDW car.

No question I need to dump these rims. I do think think they look better than the original plastic looking rims but they are all peeling and causing slow leaks. Now this added joy.

@Keith The center bearing is out not the wheel bearing. Which is a good point though. A lot of bearings to go out long before the center bearing would go out if impact had anything to do with it.

A short fall might do damage to what impacts the floor but the suspension etc is used to much worse while driving 40 mph and hitting a big pot hole.

Bottom line. Center bearing is out. $800 assuming nothing goes wrong. Thats assuming a lot. Debating whether to shop around for a cheaper price. These guys seem honest (except not explaining how my wheel got destroyed.

No I didnt drive on the wheel. From a stopl light to a curb at 3mph. Then the tow guy drove it up the tow truck at 3 mph.

Front. See where they burned it out.

But yea I agree. Violence push the center bearing over top? Probably but its not like a few weeks of driving or a pot hole would not have done the same.

Those look like alloy wheels, not chromed wheels. When the tires were installed, did the tire shop use the wrong lug nuts?


Those are factory rims.

But it appears that they’ve been chromed at some point. Like I said, Benz never condoned this.

I say it looks chromed, because I seem to to see a reflection in the rim in that last picture

Judging by the sheer carnage that used to be your rim . . . I’d think twice about using that shop again. It looks like somebody got the cold shoulder the night before and took it out on your rim.

I’m just asking but isn’t that very extreme significant rust on the back of the wheel? It looks like the rust got to the ridge and either broke causing the flat or broke when the tire went flat. I’m not sure how that wheel or the other three would be salvaged and you can see the extreme rust from the front.

I would be curious if there were 2 separate problems here and whether or not the wheel hub, lugs, etc were replaced. Also agree that a driveshaft carrier would not be affected by the wheel incident but there would be some concern about applying that much heat which would then soak into the wheel bearings and seals. May be problems there in the future.

Could it be the torch (stupid IMO) was used to free the lugs up and once the lugs were off a large sledge was taken to the back of the wheel rim because it was also seized to the hub flange?
That would explain the missing chunks and maybe the bent rotor shield when someone misjudged their aim.

It’s amazing to me a wheel rim was subjected to that kind of torture. If the lugs remained frozen and rounded off then it would seem to me that centerpunching the lugs and drilling them off might have been an option instead of going the railroad worker route.