Heads up on front wheel breaking off

For the second time this winter I saw someone whose front wheel broke off as they were negotiating a low speed turn into a mall parking lot. Both situations involved the right front wheel either being terribly askew or completely off. What I am wondering is how much warning (by sound and feel) would the operator have of a pending failure? Is this a form of neglect or can it happen out of the blue? Oh and in neither situation did the vehicle appear to be an obvious beater.

You’d feel a definite steering oddity like not going in the right direction and needing to make too many odd corrections and perhaps clunking noise.
But too many people don’t recognize the clues .

lug nuts can work loose if not properly torqued.

The cause was probably a ball joint giving up and that’s why periodical inspections of the suspension are critical. There are generally signs leading up to it. Sometimes the signs are not noticed or they’re ignored.

A lady here in OK was killed a few years ago when a ball joint broke as she was rounding a curve on the highway in her Buick and the car rolled.

Another cause is poorly-tightened lug nuts. One would notice looseness in the steering, noises, etc.

A driver might not notice much if a ball joint component was damaged by running over a pothole, cracked, the nut fell off the stud, or otherwise defective and on the verge of failure, but hadn’t quite failed. If the joint was well worn over years of use, you might notice some slop in the steering, unusual noises when turning, going over bumps, before it completely failed.

Some years back I was heading home from the airport in a cab during a blinding snow storm. About halfway home on an expressway, the front wheel of the Chevy cab came off. The Haitian driver nonchalantly brought the car to a halt by the side of the road, called one of his buddies and apologized to me in that beautiful French they speak. He seamed to treat this as an everyday occurrence; his employer must have ranked maintenance somewhere near the bottom of his priorities.

If this had happened on dry pavenemt we might have had a serious accident.

Another cabbie took me home.

Potholes have done a tremendous amount of damage this winter. There are gaping holes in Boston, surrounding towns, and up into Manchester NH. I whacked one myself Friday night in the pouring rain. Puddles are where potholes go to hide.

Usually there’ll be a warning of some type, but often the broken part fails catastrophically before the driver can get to a shop. And then there are the drivers that just keep on driving… like the rotted-out Massachusetts Blazer I saw recently with one wheel visibly bent and wobbling (also with two lug nuts missing) and the driver weaving in and out of traffic. That vehicle had a loose nut behind the steering wheel.

And George is right. Often the driver simply won’t notice. Especially with the some of roads all torn up by the winter the way they are.

@texases and @same and others imply good points that I can relate to. Wheels can fall off for a variety of reasons in all cars. If it happened to me with one of my Toyotas I would be just as upset as OP appeared to be. But, I would hope I held the correct people responsible, including my self if I failed to maintain the car properly.

This winter has taken a real toll on our city streets and I’m thinking that a lot of ‘pending’ suspension problems are going to manifest once the snow melts and the frost leaves the roadbed. Our area has not experienced the economic recovery fantasy that the (imho) reality challenged and sold out Fourth Estate claims to be upon us on a daily basis and I think this is reflected in the deplorable state of some people’s cars around here. A lot more grinding brakes, worn out tires, shot suspensions, vacuum and exhaust leaks than I can ever remember…

From what I have seen and heard rolling down the street, some people wouldn’t notice their engines falling out let alone a simple loose wheel. They either can’t “feel” it or they don’t care or they drive it until it no longer moves. Many people are like that, unfortunately, because they endanger the rest of us, too.

I’ve heard people drive with metal-to-metal brakes, tires that roared so loud I could hear them in a closed car with the radio on, seen tires so low they were almost tapping the rim to the road, heard engines knocking, seen exhaust billowing blue smoke, tires dribbling down the highway like a basketball, cars dragging trash cans… I could go on and on. Scary!

London, I loved your description
The fantasy economic recovery has not only affected the state of people’s cars, it has also affected the state of the roads. Many roads that need to be torn up and have the base replaced are only being hot patched due to depleted highway budgets exacerbated by low and dropping tax revenues. And politics. Our highway department here in NH has been crying about the need for raising gas taxes, yet they’ve allocated millions to do studies and create infrastructure to prepare for a rail line that nobody wants and we can’t afford… all to placate a special interest population to get votes. And, I would argue, to firmly cement their positions with the Washington elite. One never knows when a good ambassadorship or Secretary of Something-or-other might come available.


Wow. How did you find such an unbiased source? Any writer with the name “Anomaly” HAS to be totally honest and unbiased, doesn’t he? And we all know the Huffington Post is a totally unbiased source of information. And, of course, “freakoutnation” is a TOTALLY credible source as well.

Dag, why do you do this? Let other people have opinions and draw conclusions that disagree with yours. Show people you disagree with a little respect. You’ll avoid a heart attack and live longer.

You have an opinion that we have a failing economy which was contributing to failing infrastructure. I have the opinion that we all should share in the responsibility. I said nothing. Why is my reference and opinion any less valid or less respectful then just sitting back and allowing a politic statement to go unchallenged and only gives one side. We are all on this planet earth together and I respect your opinions, like you can respect mine. Why is that any less hard see my good friend. Btw, my best friends and I are always on the opposite of the polical spectrum with me and eachother. We just accept it. I have a resting pulse rate of 55 and BP of 95 over 60. My heart is doing well but I thank you for your concern my good friend.

Don’t get me started on infrastructure problems mb. Our hundred year old cast iron water pipes are breaking, the pavement is buckling, the snow removal if you can call it that, has advanced from a joke to a serious threat to life and limb and our mayor wants to spend (read borrow) money we don’t have to fund an arts centre. These geniuses are so caught up in the ‘if we build it they will come’ nonsense that they can’t see that the city is becoming unlivable for the residents, most of whom, by the way can’t afford the ticket prices which the arts centre will need to charge just to pay the interest on the loan to build it! I’m not opposed to the arts one bit but when it comes ahead of maintaining basic amenities and public transit my blood hits 212. Unfortunately I’ve never heard of politicians getting elected/re-elected on a sensibly crafted infrastructure budget.

Dag, you didn’t express an opinion. You posted a link attacking conservatives by one of the most biased media sources on the planet by a writer who calls him/herself “Anomaly” rather than use his/her real name. The site is an “attack” site. If you believe that we’re all responsible, simply say so, and say why. We probably won’t agree, but at least we could have an honest disagreement.

I may have overreacted, but I don not like “attack” sites. I can respect your opinion, but I cannot respect the site you used to convey it.

What part of the article is untrue ? All Rs like some D’s voted against infrastructure improvements which is a core reason for much of the road integrity problems we all are concerned about. We should both own it. So, which is untrue. We only need to go online and count the votes. It quotes the AP. “fantasy economic recovery …” as a reason for failed infrastructure certainly needs context. Otherwise, it’s just a political statement that has no basis in fact. If the context is not supplied by the author of the quote, I will without any political statements. Just facts.

Congrats Dag,those are fantastic numbers,@ Same,we have a problem around here in that the priveleged and greedy are rewarded for being greedy (tax breaks and such-while the havenots generally pay the full rate and freedom? dont pay your property taxes for 3 years and see what happens) anyway I dont care much for attack sites either-because everybody is usually a little correct,Jim Bohannon said the " Centrists" are the Folks that accomplish much,the “spirit of compromise” can actually eventually get some things done,though its impossible to please everyone-Kevin

They article I referred to may seem like it came from a bias source, but on close reading, it slams EVERYONE and pretty equally. The elites on both sides who are still prospering from an economy that can’t can’t provide decent roads both need to held accountable. After all, the elites fly. Both R and D have their fair share of elites and while we on the ground, grobbling for a few nuggets to get us through the day, they just “fly above us” impervious to our daily problems. We have Dem leaders (Obama)proposing cuts to Medicare (the party proporting to be for the little guy) while increasing military spending and all the while, debating about the infrastructure with a party of Rs who agree with them in substance on everything but can’t vote together that way as getting reelected is paramount. What do they call it ? …a circle “you know what” ?

No one is accountable as in our state we have a governor who won with 35% of the vote. Do you think he listens to the other 65%, the majority. Now, an independent and a D candidate will vie for the office again and someone will again win with less then the majority. Oh great. Another four years of not listening to the clamor ing majority because they will never be elected by them. It plays the same is many states. Why should roads get fixed ?

Are we naive enough to believe that the votes taken on the infrastrure were real ? Votes on legislation are contrived so that representatives can take their politics back to their constituents to get reelected.
Long live Gov. Christy. Regardless of how this turns out, he is just showing us how everyone gets the shaft. He is just the tip of the infrastructure neglect which knows no party lines ! The “house of cards” is stretched, but it may be too conservative. Maybe the story lines are worse. Shutting down our infrastructure by Christy just to prove a point is a welcome exposure of the truth. It happens more then you know. It’s the new normal way of business. We will be forever in his debt for his sacrifice.