Thanksgiving wheel problems on the pike

hi guys 1st your show is aces…

1st a short story before the question.

thanksgiving 07 on my way home with my fiance to alfred maine

via the turnpike i noticed a bright spark fly past my driver side window…caught my attention…next thing i knew my driver side wheel falls off…now this might have not been so bad @

5 mph but we were doing 75 mph…not cool

so i managed to hold it tight and made my way

over to the slow lane and into the break-down

lane after throwing the biggest sparkshow & avoiding all the other holiday road warriors…the good part not a scratch except where the tire got wedged up in the fender…the bad part my wheel fell off @ 70+

so now the question…WHY? i checked the studs and there not broken the ends look like

the lugs where pulled right off.

i have never seen anything like it…have you guys?..figured id ask the car guys…keep up the great show…a fan…garth steffens…ps its a 2000 nissan altima.

So the threads on the studs are intact or… ? Is it possible that you had the wrong size/pitch thread lugnut, or that you didn’t have all of the lugnuts installed?

Wheels don’t just fall off, so you have an enemy, the lugnuts weren’t installed correctly, or the wrong ones were on there.

the ends of the studs are a little stripped…but not broken
and they have been on the car since the new tires with no problems…around 1800 miles on them…
the enemy theory was my first but i had gone 80+ miles since stopping so i threw it out.
i cant come up with a reason why they came off that makes obvious sense…but im not a machanic
…but im wishing i was bout now…a scary mystery thanks for the thoughts.

I had the lug nuts work loose on my 98 Windstar about three months after I changed a front tire change. I felt a shimmy on the highway, pulled off, and discovered all 5 lug nuts were loose. I’m guessing I didn’t tighten the nuts enough when I changed the tire. Did you notice any shimmy or vibration before the wheel came off?

Ed B.

I would expect that the last few threads were stripped as the wheel came off.

I would check the surfaces where the wheel meets the brake rotor for excessive rust or foreign material.

nope just a bright spark fly past the drivers side window…than mabey 2 seconds later off the wheel came…
no shimmy or noise at all… a shimmy would have been nice…i could have used a warning
it was the weirdest thing i have ever had happen on the road…and i drive tractor trailers.

i will check…im gonna post a pic in the morning…check it out.

The first possibility is that the lug nuts were not properly torqued the last time they were installed and worked their way loose.

The second possibility is that they were overtorqued on a previous application and stretched the thread to where they can no longer be properly installed. Yes, this is possible. And with the wheel removed the threads can be checked with a thread gage.

Under the circumstances I’d want to inspect the threads before reinstalling the wheel.

Follow tsmb’s advice. It seems today’s mechanics- me included till recently, will more often overtorque or undertorque than get it within mfr’s specs. I used a 120 ft lb torque stick w/ my impact gun on certain cars but recently after doing this I measured actual torque of lugnut. It was just under the 104 ft lb spec for this application. (Yeah, I know, unprofessional) So that’s why now I use

torque stick and then torque properly w/Snap on torquewrench which I PAY to have calibrated periodically. Some techs just use the impact gun w/no torque stick at all- they must be the one’s who’re stretching studs though not every time maybe. Steel is elastic so if you torque a fastener properly it will try to spring back creating the proper tightness that in itself will keep, say, a lug nut from

unscrewing. If you go beyond “yield point” by overtorquing, steel won’t “spring” back; so actually the nut and bolt assembly could be loose enough to unscrew- by overtightening! I worked in a Meinicke Muffler shop- we had a shop rule: you use a torquewrench on every lug nut. We had a big chart on the wall published by the Rubber Mfr’s Institute, I think. You would think it would be time consuming

eyeballing the specs what w/all the different models and such, but that wasn’t the case at all and they even had specs for the exotic cars like Porsche, etc. qman27: if your lug nuts were over/undertorqued weeks or even months before wheel fell off that in itself could easily have been the culprit. This EXACT SAME thing has happened at the dealership I work at more times than I would like to admit,
except we haven’t had any come off, only get loose and now we have to use a torque wrench every time- shop rule.