Hi. I joined the forum to ask this question. I am really upset right now. My '99 Nissan Quest with 225,000 miles had the driver side rear wheel come off yesterday. The entire wheel came off.
The car is very well maintained. I have a great mechanic that I trust to keep the car safe to drive; if I weren’t comfortable that the car was safe to drive I would buy a new one. I just had two new front tires put on the car about three months ago. My mechanic also aligned the tires at that time. I also had him check the undercarriage this winter to make sure that there is no corrosion. This is the last time any work was done on the tires. The only other work I had done since then was recharging the A/C.
A couple of weekends ago I drove this car about 200 miles from my house to a music festival, where we camped. The car was driving so well on the way over, I even bragged to my husband about how smooth it was driving.
At the campground, we drove the van across the bumpy ground about 100 yards to the camp site, unloaded the car, then drove it out. It was parked all weekend, and then we drove back on the campground to load it back up then drove back out to paved road. Altogether we maybe did 400 yds of off-roading.
As we left, we heard a thumping sound that was obviously related to the wheel rotation. We stopped to see if the axel had gotten bent from the little bit of off-roading we did, or mud had gotten up somewhere in the undercarriage or wheel, and that the tires were all aired up. It was a Sunday, and we were in a rural area, so there was nowhere to stop and have a mechanic look at the car. We couldn’t find anything wrong and drove all the way home with the thumping sound. There is a cover over the lug nuts; we didn’t think to remove the cover and see if the lug nuts were tightened properly/present.
I drove a different car to work for a week or so and finally was able to arrange to get the van to the mechanic yesterday. As I was driving to the mechanic, the wheel came totally off. Fortunately it was a rear wheel and the car is front wheel drive, so I maintained control over the car and got it safely to the side of the road. I had it towed to my mechanic’s.
My mechanic says the studs are not bent or sheared, which is what would happen if the lug nuts had been overtorqued. He said the only way the wheel would come off like that without any damage to the studs was if someone removed the lug nuts. So, I am concerned that while we were at the festival someone sabotaged my car. We didn’t have any run-ins with anyone but there was one kind of nutty person there who seemed harmless but annoying. Maybe she was not so harmless. Or maybe someone else decided to play a “prank.” It was not policed on the campgrounds except some college students riding around on golf carts every so often, but we’ve been at this festival several times and it’s an older crowd of folks looking to enjoy music. It is hard for me to accept that someone would damage a stranger’s car in such a way that it was unsafe to drive it - especially when it’s a minivan and, so, obviously a car that kids might be in. I can see keying it or defacing it, but making the wheel come off? Wow, that’s what you do when you want to kill someone.
Is there any chance that this was not sabotage? I am having my mechanic replace all my lug nuts as a precaution, even though he says the other lug nuts are not stripped. 13 years of tire changes and rotations, I’m sure someone over-torqued these nuts at some point.