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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While driving my 2005 Chrysler Town & Country, I started getting a vibration in the front end. I decided to head for home, driving very slowly. I was going about 5 or 10 mph while making a left turn when the right front wheel came off the rotor and the van dropped to the pavement, scraping along for 2 or 3 feet. All of the studs that hold the lug nuts were sheared flush. The drop from suddenly losing the wheel damaged the right front fender, which now interferes with the front passenger door - it cannot be fully opened.

The van has 244,000 miles on it, has un-repaired collision damage on the right rear quarter panel, rocker panel rust, dog leg and rear wheel well rust, hood and right front fender rust. It also needs a new window regulator on the driver's side front, new blower motor for the front heater, and new rear shocks. I have just been using it as a vehicle to transport dogs, building materials, and yard waste. It is not my primary vehicle, but it does serve a purpose, even if it looks like an eyesore.

Prior to losing the wheel, I was planning on replacing the window regulator, blower motor, and rear shocks. But losing a wheel and dropping to the pavement and scraping for a few feet had to cause some damage. If I were to assess whether the van can be made safely drive-able, and at what cost, what kind of front end/suspension damage should I be looking for?
 

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Ball joint damage likely, it there indication of damage to the control arm? What happened with the rotor and the caliper? A picture is worth a thousand words.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am going to take a look at it tomorrow and will take some photos. Forgot to mention that the van was dragged up on to a flat bed tow truck to get it off the street. That probably could not have helped, either. I am capable of doing brake work, but have have never done suspension or steering component work. If it's just a rotor replacement, then I may give it a shot. Still have the issue with the damaged fender preventing the passenger door from completely opening.
 

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My wife's 97 civic had a similar issue. The ball joint failed and the CV joint on that side was ripped apart
I didn't have any wheel stud damage or body damage, we got lucky.

All I needed was a new ball joint and CV joint. Needed to borrow the loan a tool to press in the ball joint to the knuckle. Was about a 4-5 hour job and some of that was trying to locate a loan a tool.

Parts cost be under $150 canadian. If you got a shop to fox that up I'm sure it will be well over $600 for parts and labour.

Try to fix it yourself.

Post a pic and well be able to help out more.
 

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I don't know the cause but I would suggest that whatever repairs you make on the left side you also make on the right.
 

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While driving my 2005 Chrysler Town & Country, I started getting a vibration in the front end. I decided to head for home, driving very slowly. I was going about 5 or 10 mph while making a left turn when the right front wheel came off the rotor and the van dropped to the pavement, scraping along for 2 or 3 feet. All of the studs that hold the lug nuts were sheared flush. The drop from suddenly losing the wheel damaged the right front fender, which now interferes with the front passenger door - it cannot be fully opened.

The van has 244,000 miles on it, has un-repaired collision damage on the right rear quarter panel, rocker panel rust, dog leg and rear wheel well rust, hood and right front fender rust. It also needs a new window regulator on the driver's side front, new blower motor for the front heater, and new rear shocks. I have just been using it as a vehicle to transport dogs, building materials, and yard waste. It is not my primary vehicle, but it does serve a purpose, even if it looks like an eyesore.

Prior to losing the wheel, I was planning on replacing the window regulator, blower motor, and rear shocks. But losing a wheel and dropping to the pavement and scraping for a few feet had to cause some damage. If I were to assess whether the van can be made safely drive-able, and at what cost, what kind of front end/suspension damage should I be looking for?
Your van landed on the brake rotor. check it over for cracks chunks missing. take it off hang it by a wire and strike it with a hammer on the outer edge if it rings chances are its okay. replace the studs torque to 100 ft lbs do this in a star pattern. pry the fender out enough so the door passes inside of the fender look at driver door. as far as other damage compare to the other side see if they look the same. i doubt there is any other damage. be confident in your work test drive in a safe place. report how ya made out.

Hope this helps
Mr.Fixit
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks for all the suggestions. I looked at the online manual for my vehicle on alldata.com. The technique they describe for replacing the studs might not work for me since the studs were sheared off flush with the rotor. Based on the responses that the van is likely repairable, I might just have the car towed from the impound lot to a nearby shop to have new studs installed, and also to have a mechanic inspect the steering and suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Thanks again for the ideas. I had it towed to a shop to have the suspension and steering inspected. If the damage is not too severe, I may just fix it and keep driving it. I've burned myself in the past by hanging on/repairing something long after it should have been recycled or junked. I don't want to repeat that behavior with this van, when it might be more prudent just to move on to another vehicle. As I mentioned in the first post, the van is not in the best shape, but it is still useful as a vehicle for hauling dogs, building supplies, firewood, etc. What is interesting is in 2013 it was accident free and still in pretty good shape. I even had body work done to keep it looking good, and would never have considered it a utility vehicle. But a couple of crunches to rear quarter panel, the relentless march of rust, and all of a sudden the van is beater.

Here are some photos:

Wheel Well
Wheel Well Closer view
Control Arm - Tie Rod
Rotor Close-Up
Behind The Rotor
Behind The Rotor 2
Control Arm 2
Control Arm 3
Control Arm - Stabilizer Bar
 

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I would change the wheel bearing unit as said previously, the lugs are one issue/reason, and the 2nd reason is due to the hit the bearing took when the lugs sheered off, the bearing has a high probability of damage and quick failure. Change the rotor, check body/under the hood where the strut mounts and if on issue, get an alignment and drive it till the other wheels fall off.
 

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I would change the wheel bearing unit as said previously, the lugs are one issue/reason, and the 2nd reason is due to the hit the bearing took when the lugs sheered off, the bearing has a high probability of damage and quick failure. Change the rotor, check body/under the hood where the strut mounts and if on issue, get an alignment and drive it till the other wheels fall off.
I Agree.
 

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The only thing I see that might be damaged is maybe the lower ball joint. The hub bearing assembly needs replaced for sure, I might get a new rotor as well, if it were me. I'd replace those two things, take it to an alignment shop, and go from there. Whoever does the alignment should be able to tell you if anything else needs replaced.

Here's a video for the hub bearing assembly replacement.

https://youtu.be/MWoahgJgmS0
 

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Good to see your rotor stayed in placed and may have saved the day for you. Other than the rotor, your ball joint is your lowest point and may be damaged or the grease fitting (if it has one) sheared off.

Who torqued up those lug nuts to begin with? Great pictures by the way.

Replacing the studs shouldn't be a big deal and may be the cheapest way to go. However, bearings are fickle to forces that they aren't designed for and if that bearing has been on there for say 100,000 miles, replace the hub and bearing assembly anyway.

For example, the instructions for wheel bearing installation will say "don't use an impact wrench to tighten the axle bolt". Pounding on the wheel bearing/hub excessively is not recommended either. Wheel bearings have to be handled with some degree of care.

They aren't that expensive, around $80.00 depending on brand and warranty, and the Shop labor should be 1 hour max. Make sure you get the right bearing though, looks like you have 4 wheel disks with ABS.

Rock Auto prices: http://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/...e/wheel+hub,wheel+bearing+&+hub+assembly,1636
 

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Good to see your rotor stayed in placed and may have saved the day for you. Other than the rotor, your ball joint is your lowest point and may be damaged or the grease fitting (if it has one) sheared off.

Who torqued up those lug nuts to begin with? Great pictures by the way.

Replacing the studs shouldn't be a big deal and may be the cheapest way to go. However, bearings are fickle to forces that they aren't designed for and if that bearing has been on there for say 100,000 miles, replace the hub and bearing assembly anyway.

For example, the instructions for wheel bearing installation will say "don't use an impact wrench to tighten the axle bolt". Pounding on the wheel bearing/hub excessively is not recommended either. Wheel bearings have to be handled with some degree of care.

They aren't that expensive, around $80.00 depending on brand and warranty, and the Shop labor should be 1 hour max. Make sure you get the right bearing though, looks like you have 4 wheel disks with ABS.

Rock Auto prices: http://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/...e/wheel+hub,wheel+bearing+&+hub+assembly,1636

That's what I was thinking, I bet that ball joint took a pretty good beating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I did have the van towed to a shop. After reading everyone's comments about the potential for damage to the bearing, I wish I had told them to just replace the hub. Here is what they did: replaced the lower ball joint and wheel studs. They also said the front right brake pads were wearing unevenly. His guess was they were not sliding on the caliper correctly. So the front rotors were turned and new pads installed. That cost me $340. Since I was barely moving when the wheel came off, he said there was minimal damage, and thought the hub bearings would be OK. I guess I will find out. Many miles ago I had purchased a lifetime alignment from Tires Plus, so that will be my next stop. The van pulls to the right now.

I had replaced brake lines and rotated the tires in February, so if anyone botched the lug nut tightening, it was me. I use a torque wrench and go to 100 ft lbs. I have no idea how I screwed up the lug nuts on this wheel.

Still will have to massage the fender to get the passenger door to open all the way, or just go looking the junkyards for a replacement fender in the same color. It seems like it would be something easy to swap out.

Thanks again for all the advice - I was just going to have the vehicle hauled to the boneyard until all of you suggested it could still be road worthy. It does not look very pretty, but for what I use it for, it is the perfect vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Took the van in for an alignment. Looks like it needs more work (not related to the wheel coming off) They recommend the following parts be replaced:

Rack and pinion (leaking): 763.19
Right front tie rod end (included with new rack and pinion unit)
Control arm bushing: 103.59

Is this vehicle safe to operate with the existing parts? The van has 243,000 miles, so I suppose it is not unreasonable that these parts are worn. But with the mileage, collision damage, and rust, I am reluctant to put large amounts of money into the vehicle. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 

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Took the van in for an alignment. Looks like it needs more work (not related to the wheel coming off) They recommend the following parts be replaced:

Rack and pinion (leaking): 763.19
Right front tie rod end (included with new rack and pinion unit)
Control arm bushing: 103.59

Is this vehicle safe to operate with the existing parts? The van has 243,000 miles, so I suppose it is not unreasonable that these parts are worn. But with the mileage, collision damage, and rust, I am reluctant to put large amounts of money into the vehicle. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
You might want to go to another shop. Your free alignments may be a loss leader. The steering box for my Jeep has a leak around the input shaft seal that has been going on for a couple years now, needs to be topped up every three months or so. Those ZF steering boxes are noted for that and are very much out of stock for replacements. How bad is your leak? It has nothing to do with your alignment. Maybe time for "stop leak" to be added and most certainly worth a try before doing a major replacement.

Right front tie rod end is an easy replacement. You should be able to check that yourself. Did you see the looseness? Sometimes one can detect a very slight looseness but can't pin down its source, the tie rod end being a "pat" answer. Such is the situation for the front tie rod end on my 2002 GC. My Mechanic said to wait until it got worse to determine its source. I am going to replace the tie rod end anyway.

Control arm bushing: What's wrong, maybe get a second opinion.

Wouldn't the shop that did your repairs notice this. Your alignment shop has you over a barrel. Watch out for that aspect.
 
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