Key Takeaways

  • Stay calm and keep as much control as you can.
  • Hitting your brakes can cause even more damage.
  • Sometimes, mechanics forget to improperly torque lug nuts, which cause wheel offs.
  • Wheel off lawsuits can be complex and require significant evidence.
  • Maintenance companies may also be held responsible for wheel off accidents.

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Sometimes, catastrophes happen on the road. The only way to combat one is to be prepared. So what do you do if your tire falls off while driving?

Stay calm and keep as much control as you can. Slow down and pull over to the road gradually. Put your vehicle in park and turn the engine off. Check your surroundings before exiting your vehicle. Inspect your vehicle to determine the extent of damage done. Call someone for help.

I’m a mechanic with five years of experience diagnosing and repairing vehicles. I receive training on the most recently released automotive technology. I have received my degree in automotive repair and am ASE certified. And I regularly repair and diagnose vehicles with the latest software and tools.

Table of Contents

What To Do If Your Tire Falls Off While Driving

Having your tire fall off while driving can be a truly frightening experience. The sound it makes and the jarring movements that happen are enough to scare even the most confident of drivers. But while you should worry, you shouldn’t panic. There are steps you can take if your wheel falls off while driving.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is stay calm. Panicking in this situation isn’t going to help anything. Staying calm is crucial to making it out of this situation unscathed. Try to keep the vehicle driving in a straight line and try not to lose control. Try not to overreact to the sudden loss of a tire.

Next, slow down gradually. Hitting your brakes can cause even more damage. Slow down at an appropriate speed instead of slamming on your brakes. A tire falling off may leave the car driving on three wheels, so you still have some traction left. This can be enough to slow down and pull over to the side of the road.

Once you have pulled over to the side of the road, put your hazards on to let other people know that there’s been some sort of accident. Put your vehicle in park, turn off the engine, and engage the parking brake.

Before you step out of the car, check your surroundings for other vehicles. No need to make the situation worse by causing more damage by having a car hit your open door. Make sure to check your surroundings before exiting the car.

Once you exit the car, inspect your vehicle for damage. Also, try and find out the cause of the wheel off. Maybe it was loose lug nuts, or maybe the tire fell off because of a bad axle nut. Whatever the reason, see what you can see.

If you feel comfortable changing tires, try and put the spare tire on so you can get the tire to a repair shop for further inspection of damage. If you are not confident in putting the spare tire back on, call and wait for roadside assistance.

Once the tire is repaired, and all other damages are taken care of you should be good to continue driving. You’re probably going to want to make sure everything is installed properly,but a wheel off is very rare, so don’t sweat it too much.

If you want, go over the wheel nuts with your hands and make sure they aren’t hand tight. But remember, the most important thing a person can do during wheel runoff accidents is to remain calm and keep control of the vehicle.

Lug Nuts

Improperly torqued lugnuts are the most common cause of wheel runoff accidents. This is because the mechanic who works on the car forgets to tighten a lug nut, causing the wheel to spin off once it's going down the road.

Improperly torqued lugnuts are every mechanic's worst nightmare. Mechanics work on cars all day, and they probably take off 15-30 tires a day. It’s no wonder that sometimes, a mechanic will forget to properly torque all lug nuts.

At one shop I worked at, we had to torque lug nuts with a torque stick, which is a special wrench that clicks once you’ve applied the correct pressure to a nut. And then we had to hunt down another mechanic to also torque all the wheels with the same torque stick.

Once the second mechanic torqued all the lug nuts, he had to sign off on paperwork. He had to officially and legally say he torqued the lug nuts, just in case there was a wheel off. Wheel offs are huge lawsuits for repair shops, so they try to avoid them at all costs.

Especially if the wheel off happens at highway speeds, you risk a rollover crash. A lot of people who experience wheel-offs seek compensation for lost wages, injuries, and damages. Shops that don’t practice wheel off protocols are at an increased risk for wheel offs.

Once the tires fall off at high speeds, the ball joint becomes pretty wrecked on most vehicles.

Wheel Off Lawsuits

Wheel off lawsuits typically arise from accidents caused by a wheel coming off a vehicle while it is in motion. These types of accidents can have catastrophic consequences, causing severe injuries or even death. When such accidents occur, individuals who have been harmed may file lawsuits against various parties who may be responsible for the wheel coming off the vehicle.

The parties who may be held liable in wheel off lawsuits include vehicle manufacturers, tire manufacturers, and maintenance companies. Vehicle manufacturers may be responsible for designing and manufacturing defective vehicles or wheels that fail due to poor quality materials or workmanship. Tire manufacturers may be liable if a tire fails due to a manufacturing defect or if the tire was not designed to withstand the weight of the vehicle.

Maintenance companies may also be held responsible for wheel off accidents if they failed to properly install or maintain the wheels on a vehicle. Negligent maintenance practices such as failing to tighten lug nuts or using incorrect wheel size or type can contribute to the failure of a wheel.

In a wheel off lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent or acted recklessly, resulting in the wheel coming off the vehicle and causing the accident. The plaintiff may also be required to prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the defect or maintenance issue and failed to take appropriate action to prevent the accident.

To avoid wheel off accidents and potential lawsuits, vehicle owners and operators should follow recommended maintenance procedures, including regularly inspecting the wheels, ensuring proper installation and tightening of lug nuts, and using appropriate wheel size and type for the vehicle. If a vehicle owner or operator suspects a wheel or tire defect, they should take immediate action to have the vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic and replace any defective parts.

In conclusion, wheel off lawsuits can be complex and require significant evidence and expert testimony to prove fault and liability. It is important for vehicle owners and operators to prioritize proper maintenance and follow recommended procedures to minimize the risk of wheel off accidents and the potential for legal action.

What To Do If Your Tire Falls Off While Driving?

About The Author

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.

Read more about Christopher Sparks