When the wheels fall off

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 09:36
ThreadID: 33346 Views:2550 Replies:9 FollowUps:12
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A work mate of mine had an interesting trip to work yesterday when the rear left wheel came off his GU. The wheel headed off down the road at a rate of knots but fortunately no one was hurt. About $1100 of damage to the vehicle though. He had changed the wheel on Sunday (it was the spare) and had (or so he thought) done the nuts up tightly.

When the vehicle was towed to the workshop, the mechanics told him that they had seen this problem before on Patrols and, in their opinion, it was due to two things. First of all something to do with the shape of the nuts and secondly that the standard wheel brace is way too short for most normal human beings to tighten. They reckon that they always use the rattle gun, because even the strongest guy in the shop can not achieve the torque required by Nissan using the standard brace.

Has anyone else had experience with this problem or is my mate really just a weany? And before you ask, he is a very experienced and careful 4WDer, not the sort of guy to do a dodgy job.

Second question, would it be wise to replace wheel bearings as well?


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Reply By: Member No 1- Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:12

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:12
"strongest guy in the shop can not achieve the torque required by Nissan using the standard brace"...this sounds like they'd be overtightend possibly causing other matters to arise

most tyre dealers overtighten wheel nuts

he most likely didnt tighten them at all...i am suprised he didnt notice some abnormal noise prior to wheel coming off
AnswerID: 169648

Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:16

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:16
"most tyre dealers overtighten wheel nuts"

Just ask Truckster!
FollowupID: 425024

Follow Up By: Member No 1- Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:55

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:55
he's had problems too?
FollowupID: 425029

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:18

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:18
me too, broke a stud a few weeks ago getting the nut off.
FollowupID: 425032

Reply By: garrycol - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:15

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:15
Was that the one sitting all sad and sorry on the Defence College roundabout in morning peak hour?

From the position of the car, I assume the wheel came off just before the roundabout and it was safest to drive straight ahead onto it. Didn't see the wheel but I assume you managed to find it - it was lucky no one was hit as it is a busy piece of road that time of morning.

I am surprised that the movement of the wheel wasn't heard just before it came off. About 15 years ago I had a landrover wheel come off about 300m down the hill from where you mates came off but that was due to wheel bearing failure - the mudguard stopped the wheel coming completely away from the car but it was a bit hard to stop because the brake drum was still connected to the wheel and the brake shoes had nothing to grip on. The wheel made heaps of noise when it came off but there was no noise before failure.

I assume the car just dropped onto the brake disk so the wheel bearings are probably OK but seeing the whole lot has to be pulled apart anyway - I would replace them.

AnswerID: 169649

Follow Up By: Member - Matt M (ACT) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:48

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:48
That's the one.
FollowupID: 424991

Reply By: cokeaddict - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:52

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:52
Someone's telling little white ones here mate. ALL wheel nuts have a specific torque setting. Rattle gun tight is a nonsense. If the vehicle in question has alloy wheels fitted, then a rattle gun is the last thing he wants to tighten up wheel nuts, its a disaster waiting to happen. I run sunrasia rims on my GQ and i use a breaker bar with an extension and socket. When tightening my wheels nuts, I run the nuts until they all make contact with the rim then i use the breaker bar to "NIP" them up (around 1/4 to 1/2 turn)...thats it.

Sounds to me like someone who didnt know, used a rattle gun to tighten the nuts up and kept it running till it wouldnt turn anymore. That in itself will cause problems to... wheel nuts, rims, studs...just to name a few.

I am amazed how many places do this, one thing i always request when i am in a tyre shop is .."NO RATTLE GUNS" used on my wheels. If they argue that point with me, i take my vehicle to another shop.

Just glad no one got injured.
AnswerID: 169651

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen M (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 12:35

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 12:35
Hi there cokeaddict, I'm with you there no rattle guns on any of my vehicles, when I bought my commodore brand new was suppose to be genuine HSV clubsport rims fitted until I filled the tank up then did nothing but scrub the rear guards, cutting a long story short I found out they were bob jane copys and after nearly a fist fight with the dealer ship I made them put genuine HSV rims on then bob jane used the rattle gun and stripped 2 threads and cross threaded the other one wasnt happy to say the least but they did replace all the studs and I made them use the cross brace from then on. They reckon they use torque bars between the rattle gun and wheel nut to stop this happening maybe they do but not on any of my vehicles they dont.!!! Regards Steve M
FollowupID: 424993

Reply By: V8Diesel - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 14:13

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 14:13

Mate of mine just had one of his mags come off his tandem boat trailer. Turned out he'd parked the boat outside overnight and someone had tried knocking off his flash trailer mags and new LT tyres.

Anyway, apparently the wheel came off so he promptly pulled over to side of the road but couldn't find it anwhere. He looked over fences, under bushes etc - no luck. Ohh well, puts the spare on and continues on his way. Gets to the boat ramp and sitting in amongst his stuff is the wheel. Must have hit a pole or something and bounced in.
AnswerID: 169669

Follow Up By: Bob - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 16:27

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 16:27
lucky it hit a Pole, they are pretty tough blokes.
If it had've hit a little Asian it would've knocked him over and not bounced.
FollowupID: 425017

Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:01

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:01
FollowupID: 425023

Follow Up By: V8Diesel - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 19:46

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 19:46
But wouldn't it just gradually roll to stop on a slope?

(for the PC nazi's - nothing nasty intended, joke only)
FollowupID: 425048

Follow Up By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Monday, May 01, 2006 at 12:13

Monday, May 01, 2006 at 12:13

Haven't heard that term since my navy days
Any mug can be uncomfortable out bush

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FollowupID: 425359

Reply By: Member - Jim (Syd) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:33

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 17:33
Dear Matt,

Same thing happened to a mate of mine on the way back from the Anne Beadell Highway last year. His car is a new GU4 with alloy rims. He could not get steel wheels prior to the trip because they were not available at the time. He had changed a tyre after it was staked by a lurking mulga spike and had done the wheel up using the wheel brace supplied. As he is no stranger to 4WD's and has years of experience off road etc he made doubly sure it was tight but not overtight. Lucky for him he noticed that three wheel studs had sheared when we stopped for lunch shortly after Wilcannia on the way home. Nissan gave several conflicting stories about him undertightening then overtightening, but they produced no scientific evidence of either. They covered all the expences to get the car back to Sydney, plus accom and hire car etc. They did not cover the cost of a new set of wheel studs!!! In the fine print of the manual, which everyone reads (LOL) there is a specific torque setting for the wheel studs, which has to be checked after 1000kms. Surely they should then supply a torque wrench, but no they had that one covered as well. Well done Nissan - not!
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AnswerID: 169690

Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:01

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:01
They don't supply a torque wrench for any other 100 odd specified settings.
You will find that virtually every nut, bolt or stud will have a factory specified torque setting. The most abused is wheel nuts, I'm convinced some tyre services do them up to around 200 ft lb.
FollowupID: 425030

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:40

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:40
Yes every nut, bolt and screw no matter how little or insignificant is torqued to a setting during assembly.
FollowupID: 425035

Reply By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:04

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:04
Overtorquing stretches the threads on the studs, weakening them so the nuts appear loose, leading to further tighening, "with a bit more torque this time to stop it loosening", and so the cycle goes untill complete failure of the stud. Overtorquing can also cause radial "crush" cracks to develop in alloy rims, that can also make the nuts loosen, and ultimately lead to the cracking through of the alloy rims from wheel stud through to the hub hole.

The normal way of getting the right torque is to put all your weight on the end of the OE wheel brace using your hands (~40kg at 250mm radius, equal to 100Nm). They make them that short for a reason, so you can't overtorque the nuts and studs. By all means use a breaker to undo them, but never to do them up.

As a matter of course I would be replacing all the wheelstuds and bolts as a precaution if they have been consistantly done up with a rattle gun in the past.
AnswerID: 169694

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:44

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 18:44
I do mine with the wrench to 95nm. It never fails to surprise me just how little this really is.
FollowupID: 425036

Reply By: Peter - Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 20:07

Saturday, Apr 29, 2006 at 20:07
GU 2003 Patrol - drivers side rear wheel came off. When checked it appeared the previous owner had lost a wheel (circumstances unknown), and had replaced 5 studs with non standard ones. All 5 studs sheared off and the original Nissan one snapped in 2 places but just gave me enough time to pull off the road. Nuts always torqued to 80nm which is apparently the Nissan recommendation. The tyre mob I go to set the torque on the rattle gun to 80nm so I'm not sure exactly what caused the problem.
AnswerID: 169715

Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 at 08:00

Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 at 08:00

If a wheel is going to come off a vehicle it will be on the left hand side.

When right hand thread wheel studs are used on the left hand side of the vehicle the turning effect of the wheel will over time loosen the wheel nuts.

It has to do with the wheel turning anti clock wise, that is the way the wheel nut also comes off. The wheel is turning the same way the nuts are turned to remove them.

Some trucks have left hand thread on the wheel studs to over come this problem.

With alloy rims I think it is more of a problem because of the shape of the rim and that a steel nut on a alloy rim can bind and may feel tight but the steel wheel nut is not seated properly.

On steel rims the wheel nuts are easy to see if they are seated but if the holes in the rim are worn then the wheel may come loose again.

The wheel on the left back of the Troopie came loose after a trip in the Snowy Mountain area. I could hear some thing rattling at the back and after some looking found that the wheel nuts were loose.
I had changed the wheels before the trip and tightened the the wheel nuts with a rattle gun. I have always used the rattle gun with out any problems before.

The wheel bearings where checked and were found to need some adjustment, since then and the wheel nuts have been tight.

So to answer the second part of your question I would change the bearing while the axle was out of the vehicle.


AnswerID: 169767

Reply By: arthurking83 - Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 at 10:31

Sunday, Apr 30, 2006 at 10:31
Jap wheel studs must be made of sushi or somethin'!! :o

25 years of owning real british steel, never had any problems with wheel studs done too tight with rattle guns!

My only problems, ever, concerning wheel studs was with my 'ol mans C1300 Inter, that thing used drive me nuts!

I just let the 'rattle gun hero's' do thweir thing and never worried about it!

Now you got me all worried with my Rodeo!!!

Going out to check the wheel nuts......to be sure....to be sure....! :))
AnswerID: 169797

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