The wheel fell off my car

I am driving along and boom the wheel falls off my car. I have it towed to my car guy who tells me that it is a ball joint failure and so happens that my make year and model car has been recalled for defective ball joints. I call the dealer who tells me that my particular VIN number is not covered by the recall.

My question is this:, Is wheels falling off of cars so common that I should believe this line? What are the magic words to get them to get real and get to fixing my car? I have been arguing with them for two days now and they reffuse to do anything about it.

It would be really helpful if you supplied the missing details:

Make and model of vehicle
Year of manufacture
Odometer mileage
Length of warranty coverage

Without those details, it is difficult to provide an answer that has much value.

It’s a little hard to answer your question without knowing the year, make, and model of your car.

Get the info on the recall from your car guy and write to your manufacturer following the instructions in the complaint resolution portion of your Owner’s Manual. You might also want to write to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Try their website for info.

You could check to verify that the recall does not include your car. It is very possible that when the problem was discovered they redesigned a part and your car was manufactured with the new design so it did not fall under the recall.

You did not tell us what make model and YEAR car it was so it is difficult to provide full information. Wheels falling off are not all that common, but it is not something I would call rare. I have seen many over the years.

Sorry I did not mention the make since did not want to start throwing rocks at Honda just yet, but since I was asked, It is a 1997 Honda Accord SE with over 100,000 miles, don’t know exact miles since it is not at home, but for sure is not under any kind of warrenty.

It just seems a little too coincidental that my car would have the same problem as what the recall is for them to say is not related to the recall without even looking at the car.

Not necessarily too coincidental. A recall might affect ball joint failures at low mileage. If you have 100k on rough roads/streets a worn ball joint might not be considered too soon.

Wow, going so far as to hide the make in an attempt to protect Honda, even after getting bad customer service…why do people do this? If this was a GM, for some reason I can not comprehend, the rocks would be in the air already…

The dealer can determine from the VIN if any defective parts that were a result of a safety recall were assembled in your vehicle. And if your VIN is not included in the recall, it means the defective parts weren’t assembled in your vehicle.

But to have a ball joint seperate like this means it was completely worn out. And when this happens, there’s always an indiction that there’s a problem with the ball joint. This includes a shaking in the steering wheel when the vehicle is driven, a knocking or clunking noise when the vehicle is driven over bumps, or a groaning/grinding noise when the wheels are turned.


No matter what the make of car might be, at 100k, it is certainly possible for a ball joint to suffer catastrophic failure, particularly if the car spent much time on roads/streets with bad pavement.

Recall or no recall, one factor to consider is the competence of your mechanic. If the front end was checked by your mechanic anytime within the last few months, he should have noticed the beginnings of excess play in the ball joints, and he should have recommended their replacement. And, if you have not had your front end checked, then shame on you!

Incidentally, my father had to replace one of the ball joints on a '63 Plymouth when it had something like 14k on the odometer, due to the horrendous road conditions in Hudson County, NJ. A friend of mine recently had ball joints replaced on his '01 Accord, and he has less than 80k on the odometer.

Stuff happens, but regular inspections by a competent mechanic can alert you to the need to replace things like ball joints BEFORE catastrophic failure occurs.

Not to play the Devil’s advocate, but I’ve seen this quite a bit where a part needs to be replaced on a particular vehicle and there’s a recall for that same part that covers a range of VIN’S or serial #'s for that same vehicle, but the vehicle’s VIN or ser # doesn’t fall into that range. I sure can sympathize w/your reaction- a really crucial part fails; you find out there’s a recall for it; but then you find out

your car’s not “on the boat”. Double check whether your car’s part of this recall by following advice in above posts; and/or seeing whether another dealer confirms first dealer’s position. I’m wondering why ball joint got to the point of failure before being replaced and I’m not blaming you, mind you, but do you have a state safety inspection program in your state? One would think that a yearly program would nip this

kind of thing in the bud, but if you put on say, more than 20,000 mi/year or drive on real bumpy roads; maybe not. If there’s no such program in your state, it’s your responsibility to have your garage do a thorough safety check- I would do this twice yearly.

The ball joint could have just plain failed from wear and neglect, as opposed to being defective; no offense.

You should have a front end alignment check done at least every three years. I prefer every two years for older cars, unless you put on lots of miles. Your dealer should have checked the ball joints when you had the scheduled maintenance done. You did have it done, didn’t you? If not. more stuff could fall off.

A 1997 with over 100,000 miles? You’re arguing with them trying to get a free fix for a 10 year old car with over 100,000 miles?

Cancel my earlier post. Had I known this earlier I would have simply suggested that things wear out. I suspect you may have withheld the info earlier because you knew that.