Wheel Failure

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Diesel Doug

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Oct 10, 2005
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I just lost a wheel this past weekend.  The lug bolts were sheared off.  Any suggestions as to what may have caused this?  Is it safe to tow my 31 ft sunnybrook fifer with only 3 wheels about 50 miles to the nearest rv dealer?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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My best guess would be loose lug nuts.  If they get loose, the wheel works back and forth, sawing at the lugs until they fail.  It's not a common problem, but it happens. That's why they tell you to check the lug nuts periodically, especialy on brand new trailers.
 

edjunior

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Roman Forest, TX.
Probably even rarer, but possible (it happened to me!) is the lug nuts could have been too tight.  That would stress the lugs to shear.  This happened to me after Midas did some break work on my old Blazer.  Got really lucky too, as I had just come down out of the Black Hills of North Dakota and was on the Interstate again heading West.  It it would have happened in the hills......
 

John From Detroit

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I will go with loose as well, You should check them every trip

As to towing to the nearest dealer... Not necessary, most any tire dealer can fix you up  In most cases the lugs are easily replaced

That is, of course, unless the hub was damaged beyond the shearing of the lugs
 

Carl L

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Diesel Doug said:
I just lost a wheel this past weekend.? The lug bolts were sheared off.? Any suggestions as to what may have caused this?? Is it safe to tow my 31 ft sunnybrook fifer with only 3 wheels about 50 miles to the nearest rv dealer?

Like the rest of the folks here say, it is likely that the lug nuts were loose, ie under-torque.? ?The wheels on a trailer take a lot of lateral stressing in a turn -- just watch them in a rear view mirror in a slow turn.? ?The cure is to routinely check the nuts with a torque wrench.? ?I have a 'snapper' wrench in my trailer devoted to that task.? ? ?Just set the wrench to your trailer mfr's wheel nut torque spec. and go around the wheels with it.

Overtorquing could be a problem too.? I insist with both my tow vehicle and my trailer during a tire change, the wheels be hand torqued.? ?Some dealers will give you a song and dance that the air wrench can torque just as well, but I have checked my dealer's efforts at air torquing and found his mech torqued my lug nuts to over 300 lb-ft on a wheel that the correct spec was 95 lb-ft.? The floor boss got to loosen and? retorque every one of the 4 wheels times 5 lug nuts by hand himself.? ?Not a happy floor boss.

BTW I use a 1/2" drive snapper wrench just because it is a lot easier to use on wheel lugs.? ?A needle wrench practically has to be used in a prone position.? ? The cheaper models of snapper wrenches are not so accurate or durable but, imho, they are are good enough for the limited use I give them.

If you suspect overtorquing, loosen all nuts on a wheel and retorque them using the trailer mfr's star pattern of tightening.
 

maynard9089

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Oct 18, 2005
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This does sound like a lug nut issue but you should know that Sunnybrook is in the process of a recall on their 16" chromed steel wheels. They are suffering from poor welds. Check out www.sunnybrooktalk.com for more help and info.
 

Smoky

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Sounds like loose lug nuts to me as well.

And yes, most trailers can be towed on three wheels (assuming you have duals on each side of the axle) if you are lightly loaded and stay well below speed limits on good roads.  I lost a tire in 2003 and was able to get my trailer another 30 miles to a place where I could spend the night.  Of course if you have good insurance, they will come get you anywhere.  I had good insurance, but it was a Sunday and I wanted a safe place to spend the night while waiting.
 
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