A tire falling off while driving sounds like a scary accident. In many cases, such a fender-bender is caused by failure to tighten the lug nuts properly, failure of the ball bearing in the wheel hub assembly, or broken axles.
While the potential causes of a tire falling off while driving goes beyond those listed above, the silver lining of this predicament is that they can be entirely preventable.
In the rest of this post, we will walk through some potential causes of tires falling off while driving and the immediate steps to take once that happens.
As a bonus, you will also learn how to prevent future occurrences through regular inspections and routine maintenance.
Table of Contents
10 Reasons Why Tire Fall Off While Driving
1. Failure of the wheel stud
When there is stress on the wheel and axle assembly, it can lead to wheel stud failure, which then results in wheel separation. This is caused by improper tire inflation pressure, uneven weight distribution, or excessive wheel rotation.
Failure of the wheel stud can also stem from improper torque on the lug nuts, especially when it needs to follow the manufacturer’s specifications.
2. Lug nut failure
Lug nut failure is one of the most common reasons a tire will fall off while driving. It is usually caused by vibration and corrosion. This occurs during a centrifugal force when the nuts can no longer withstand the high stresses, particularly if they are loose.
3. Poor tire service
The possibility of a tire falling off while driving at high speeds increases when you fail to check for cracks and bulges regularly.
The accident could result from incomplete tire services and a lack of assurance that the tires can carry the vehicle’s weight.
4. Bent rims or hub
When the rim is bent or damaged, chances are the wheels are not held properly. This can result in the tire falling off, especially when you drive over a bump. The wheel gradually loses traction until it eventually falls off.
5. Bad wheel bearing
A damaged wheel cannot support the weight of your vehicle. Hence, the tire is likely to fall off while driving. Wheel bearings are what keep your tire attached to your vehicle. Once they are bad, an accident like this can happen.
6. Wheel seizure
If the car shakes violently while driving at great speeds before the tire separates, the accident results from a wheel seizure.
This happens when the bolt on your tire becomes loose, causing the wheel not to balance and turn freely. It won’t be easy to gain traction and control the vehicle when this happens.
7. Improper tire pressure, alignment & pressure
Incorrect configuration of the tire pressure, alignment, and pressure all contribute to improper installation, which is one of the popular reasons tires fall off while driving at great speeds.
When the wheel assembly is not installed properly, it can result in improper tire balance, which leads to vibrations in the steering wheel.
Apart from the rough driving experience this will cause, it also removes balance between the front and rear wheels, leading to tire failure.
Underinflation is another cause of tires falling off while driving. It accounts for one of the many errors in tire maintenance that some car owners make. An under-inflated tire lacks full traction, which makes it heat up easily. When it heats up easily, it blows out and likely falls off while driving.
9. Tire pressure problems
Tire pressure is another sensitive part of tire care that can prevent or cause damage. While over-inflation leads to damaged tire structure, as mentioned earlier, under-inflation leads to heat buildup.
What To Do When Your Tire Falls Off While Driving
If a tire falls off while driving, the first thing to do is to keep looking ahead. Continue focusing on what’s in front of you to avoid obstacles. Then follow these steps:
Step 1: Steer your vehicle over without scrubbing the pavement. So, do it carefully.
Step 2: Slowly press on the brakes to prevent a skid
Step 3: Now, reduce your speed to as low as 25 mph so that you can still control the vehicle
Step 4: Try to get off the road to a safe place to park the car.
Step 5: Seek a solution to get the tire fixed
The bottom line is that wheels do not separate from the hub for no reason.
When a tire blows out while driving, it is either due to improper lug nut torque or insufficient replacement of original material such as rim nuts, bolts, and studs.
If you ever experience this situation, consider calling a tow truck to help you bring the vehicle to a car repair shop that you trust (after following the above steps, of course)
It would help if you also considered contacting a lawyer because a higher force does not cause such an accident. Meanwhile, the damaged lug nut or wheel is not the only thing to worry about when a tire falls off while driving.
If you were not stationary at the time of the incident, your car could have sustained additional under-body damage, such as engine (oil sump), frame, or suspension parts damage.
Someone is to blame, especially if you suspect it results from poor tire repair or vandalism.
Before you take any action, you must allow the mechanic to check the status of the wheels first to diagnose the cause properly.