Reasons Why A Wheel Might Fall Off

Even though it's rare, it is possible that certain problems, if not attended to promptly, may actually will cause one of your car's wheels to fall off while you're driving. If that happens, then your car may suffer considerable damage. Most of these issues give plenty of warning before things get to that point. Here are a three types of mechanical issues which may cause your wheel to fall off if you're not being attentive.

Bad wheel bearing

Bad wheel bearings cause problems when they seize or break. When these bearings begin to go bad, you will hear a scraping noise that eventually gets so loud that it will be intolerable. You will also see unusual tire wear and it may feel like your steering is lose or that the tire is wobbling. These symptoms are more noticeable when you make turns. If you take in your car for regular service or tire rotation, the mechanic will probably spot the problem long before it gets to the point where your wheel actually falls off.

Worn ball joints

Most cars have at least one set of ball joints on the front suspension and many models also have ball joints on the rear suspension. The first signs that they are going bad is when they make excessive noise. The noises could be only a small squeak, but they will mostly sound like a clunk. You will likely feel these clunks and other vibrations through your steering wheel. It's very rare that they go bad unless your car was in an accident, the joints get exposed to excessive dirt or you've been driving around extremely bumpy roads. They can also wear down due to age, but are generally long-lasting. Unfortunately, once they go bad, they must be replaced.

Loose lug nuts

Loose lug nuts can definitely cause you to lose a wheel, but even they, too, give you plenty of warning before that happens. As soon as you drive off, you will hear clunking or clicking noise, and it may feel like your wheel is wobbling. If you try to make a turn, the symptoms will get likely be bad enough to cause you enough concern to stop driving immediately. Fortunately, unless you continue driving, or drive too fast, this situation is easily remedied by tightening the lug nuts.

The bottom line here is that you if you "listen" to what your car is saying to you, chances are you wheel will not fall off except in extremely unusual circumstances. When you take your car for service, ask your mechanic to inspect your car's ball joints and wheel bearings for any unusual wear. Whenever you take off your tire or have wheel or tire work done, check to make sure the lug nuts are tight when the wheel is replaced.