Ever had your wheel come off at 55 MPH? I did...

Dozer18

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...about three hours ago. We were driving down the Fairfax (VA) County Parkway at about 55 mph when I started to feel a little wobble from the back - though it had been fine a couple hours earlier. Then something hard bounced off the driver's window or door, like a rock hitting the windshield. I know now that that was a lug nut flying off. A few seconds later, without much additional warning, the back left end hit the ground and there was a beautiful spark shower in the rear view mirror. Years of practicing emergency procedures (both real and simulated) in Navy jets must have kicked in, as I calmly slowed the truck (though dragging the wheel helped) and eased off to the emergency lane.

I looked in the immediate vicinity for the wheel, which was nowhere to be found. This bothered me, as that wheel accounted for $400 of new rubber and alloy. Called USAA roadside assistance, and when the driver came we drove around and found the wheel - about 200 yards further down the parkway in the middle of the median. Used the flatbed to lift up the ass end and jury-rigged the wheel back into place - remember, all the lugs were spread across the parkway like shotgun pellets - and got her home.

Three days ago I put the new wheels on at a local military base's auto skills center with the help of a certified mechanic. I swear we torqued that wheel down the same as the others, but the facts dictate otherwise.

I tell this story not to highlight my own incompetence, but so that others will think about it when doing something as easy and basic as putting wheels back on: triple-check that you torqued the wheel back on correctly, whether you just finished a tire/wheel swap, brake job, etc. We were lucky nobody got hurt tonight - us or anyone else around us - and the Ghost will be okay in the end.

Now, a question: the only part of the truck to make contact with the asphalt was the wheel/drum. It dragged for about 50 yards before stopping. The studs are all intact, and on initial inspection I couldn't see anything else out of place. What should I be worried about in relation to the wheel itself? Could something really bad have happened to the wheel or axle that I might not see externally?

As for the wheel, I'll be ordering another new one tomorrow and will hopefully have it mounted back up mid-week. Thanks for reading; stay safe and smart out there!
 
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Had an issue with a toyota celica back when I was a teen. Had fracture marks on the wheel nuts but was too young and dumb to realize what it meant. Lost the drivers front tire at about 35mph on a luckily deserted street. Ground off quite a bit of the front brake rotor. Watched my tire and rim go bouncing down the street. Went and got it back, and then then took 1 nut each from the remaining tires and was able to nurse her back home about 6 blocks. Rotor *thumped* due to some slag from the grinding process but ran. Gotta love toyota engineering.

When at home in the driveway I pulled the front assembly apart went to checker and got a new brake rotor and pads and new shiny lug nuts for all 4 tires, and put humpty dumpty back together again. Ran fine. As far as I ever could tell the nuts must have worked themselves loose due to the top not holding together due to the fractures finally splitting (never did find them but hadn't noticed any missing before driving to school that day) and thus not holding themselves down . Either that or some asshat loosened them. Wouldn't have surprised me with my high school.

Made me a believer in new nice shiny lugs for tires. If I see any evidence or rust or cracking....its outta there. Glad you didn't have a life altering incident on your hands. When I first saw the post was thinking that you might have lost a wheel half shaft or had the lug studs shear - have had that happen on my 60 and had to source new studs and repound them in. Thankfully, *not* trailside for that repair.

Glenn in Marana
 

4Cruisers

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On a late night return from a long weekend trip to southern Utah, I was following (at a distance) my friend in his FJ62. I came around a corner in my FJ60 and saw him pulled over on the shoulder - his wheel had come off at about 60 mph. It banged up the rear passenger wheel well pretty good. We were able to retrieve the wheel/tire and get him back on the road for the remaining 70 miles home.
 

doug720

 
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You mentioned "New tires and wheels" were just installed. Were the new wheels and lug nuts compatible?

Different wheels styles require different style lug nuts. Make sure they they both work together.

Incompatible combo's can and will cause lug nuts to work themselves loose, no matter if they were torqued to spec.

If the wheels and lugs are compatible, another possibility is many new wheels need to be re-torqued after driving 25, 50 or 100 miles, sometimes several times. Many wheel manufacturers note this in the installation instructions.

Just another thing to check.

Glad damage was minimum to all.
 

Dozer18

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Thanks for the inputs - and stories - so far.

Anyone else feel that I should replace the studs? They seem solid, but I understand an abundance of caution. Toyota dealer has OEM studs at $9 a piece, so would prefer not to replace them unless truly needed.

Also, any thoughts about putting the same wheel back on vice ordering a new one? The center cap is toast, but other than some good scratching on the inside I don't know that the wheel itself is done. It would need rebalancing since the weights came off (internal stickies) but that's easily done.

Also, great point on retorquing new wheels. I had only put maybe 20 miles on them as of the moment the wheel involuntarily removed itself. That said, all the other wheels are solid.
 
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IMG_1692.JPG
A group of us rented razor's in Moab to go ripping around Merrimac and not 15 mins into our session my buddies rear wheel flew off. Scared the crap out of everyone! The rental company managed to get everything sorted out but we had them check all of our wheels and it turns out several had loose lug nuts.
 
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I had only put maybe 20 miles on them as of the moment the wheel involuntarily removed itself. That said, all the other wheels are solid.
If a wheel flies off only 20 miles after installing it, and all the other wheels are still torqued tight. You have your answer why it happened: none of the lug nuts on that wheel got torqued.

If only 3 lug nuts (every other one) we're torqued to spec on a wheel, the wheel wouldn't fly off.
 

Dozer18

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If a wheel flies off only 20 miles after installing it, and all the other wheels are still torqued tight. You have your answer why it happened: none of the lug nuts on that wheel got torqued.

If only 3 lug nuts (every other one) we're torqued to spec on a wheel, the wheel wouldn't fly off.
Seems like reasonable logic. Can't disagree, only I could swear we did torque them down. Not the first time I coulda sworn I did something I didn't do, though.
 
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And if the wheels are alloy, a good (safe) rule of thumb is to re-torgue them after 20-25 miles of driving. @Dozer18, your exact story happened to me in a 69' FJ40 except every singe wheel stud sheared all at once. In my case, the brake drum was toast as it was no longer round after meeting asphalt and then getting super hot. I'd be surprised if yours is still serviceable. At a minimum, take the drum in and have it checked at a place that turns drums and rotors. You might be surprised what you find.
 
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The guys at work are always jawin about last night or trump or YouTube or Snapchat or whatever useless thing they get all deep talking about but can't figure out what in the heck happened or how in the world "it" got screwed up- not that "they" did anything wrong...when they didn't put the right stuff in the box or didn't count in an incoming shipment... no one has presence of being at the top of their priorities list anymore or personal accountability. What ever happened to being hear and now? Everyone operates on muscle memory and has no recallection of the actions they committed just 2 hours ago. Be deliberate. Do thing on purpose. MEAN it... sorry for the rant; not aiming at anyone, just venting...

To the OP; your stuff will prolly be ok, just make sure the roundly things are circular and the square things are plumb...
 

1986blue60

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I had the exact same thing happen about 8 months ago. I ordered new lug nuts and replaced the old rusted ones on every tire. I was only going about 25 mph when the wheel came off. It bent several of the wheel studs and caved in the wheel well behind the tire. I beat the studs back into position and got the wheel back on and limped home. While I was checking out the damage I realized the lug nuts were a mix of 21mm and 20mm. So when I put the new nuts on the air wrench tightened the 20mm enough to look tight. Hard lesson learned. I replaced all of the wheel studs myself and just happened to have a new drum I was going to use anyways.
 
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i had the front come off at about 30km/hr after doing some work on suspension. little too late to realize i had only tightened them but not torqued them. it came off around a corner in my 40. tire went bouncing across the road and hit a garbage can that was roughly 4x4x4 feet in dimensions. it moved about 6 feet. if that had hit someone it would have killed them. that was a 33x12.5 tire. thankfully a bunch of big burly army guys came over from a near by picnic and lifted the truck while i put the tire back on. my wife loves this story for that reason. i needed a new rotor and it was a good time to trim dust shields off. amazing how tough these axles really are. drove home with no troubles at all. it's a scary feeling and makes you think a lot of all that could have gone wrong
 

Godwin

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Check the 6 mounting holes of the wheel carefully. If these are out-of-round or enlarged due to having been banged by the studs they'll not hold torque. Learned this lesson on a stock wheel but earlier enough that I did not loose it on the road.
 

Dozer18

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Check the 6 mounting holes of the wheel carefully. If these are out-of-round or enlarged due to having been banged by the studs they'll not hold torque. Learned this lesson on a stock wheel but earlier enough that I did not loose it on the road.
Concur, Jim. The holes had been beaten up a little bit, and I'm not confident enough in the wheel to keep it on full time.

Yesterday the local Toyota dealer said he had seven rear wheel studs in stock when I called him; of course, when I arrived, he could only find three. So I'm going to track down three more studs and replace those this week.

In the meantime, I put the wheel back on and torqued it down to 110 (FSM 101 plus a bit extra for the alloys). Double checked that all the others were torqued down and they were. I did this to get the truck off of jack stands in the street in front of my house, and I feel comfortable driving it the five miles to the Fort to use the auto skills shop later this week. I'm ordering a new wheel today and will install that, along with the new studs, then.

I'm contemplating ordering the new wheel with a new matching tire already mounted and balanced so I can just slap it on. Then I would keep the current wheel as an emergency spare mounted in the factory location under the truck (plenty of clearance under there).

Thanks for all of the constructive input and for sharing your stories. I hope the thread doesn't end here; these stories are good to read as they serve as reminders in the backs of our heads when we will be taking wheels off and putting them back on in the future...
 

Dozer18

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Oh, and one more thing: the silver lining to this story is that I found the lug nuts for those wheels in black rather than the chrome I got when I ordered them. I think the black looks much better:

Before:

IMG_6918.jpg


After:

IMG_6917.jpg


And, I got a shiny new torque wrench and 2lb. hammer for the tool kit...
 
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I have had this happen TWICE in new to me 40s. First time I was headed home from work only a few hundred yards from the house and the left rear wheel falls into the wheel well. I put it in 4wd and dragged it into a parking lot. Spent the next hour or two putting new studs on in the rain. Got it home and decided I'd put a new fuel filter on (diesel) since I was already wet. To make a long story short next thing you know the cruiser is rolling down my drive without me in it and ends up on its side. That was a bad day. Second time I had just merged onto the highway in rush hour morning traffic, I get up to speed, feel a crash and the left rear wheel passes me and goes over the next overpass. I held up traffic that morning. Wheel ended up in an empty parking lot two hundred yards down the road. Fortunately it didn't hit anyone's car.
 
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