Wheel coming off - advice please

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Apr 21, 2018
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Hi,
I'm after some advice please. We had our van in for a service 4 weeks ago with our local dealer. Last week we, (my husband myself and 8 year old daughter) travelled about 55 miles towards a site when suddenly the nearside wheel completely came off whilst fortunately only travelling about 20mph. We contacted a local recovery company who responded very quickly. The mechanic was able to jack up the van to access the spare wheel and use 3 recovered wheel nuts to make a short term repair to enable us to make the remaining 1.5 miles to the site. The mechanic suggested that we use a nut from the offside wheel to allow 4 bolts in each side. When he went to remove a nut from the offside wheel he discovered all of those wheel nuts were also lose. He raised this as a concern before he ensured that we made it to our destination safely. We made an attempt to set up our van and assess the damage, identifying significant damage to the alloy wheel, the wheel hub, damage to the wheel arch and noted that the motor mover no longer works. In addition to this, we also established that the gas cylinder was still plugged in and the valves in the 'on' position. This was our first trip of the season and the gas had been totally unconnected prior to the service and we never travel with the gas connected.
I have been into our local service centre who are denying any responsibility however I wish to take this further. The mechanic who assisted at the roadside is supportive of our predicament. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
May 24, 2014
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If your caravan has been serviced properly, they will have tested all the systems, including the gas. As with any vehicle on the road, its the drivers responsibility to make sure its safe. Probably not what you want to hear, but its fact.

Also when your caravan was serviced, your running gear including the brakes will have been checked, and that will have entailed taking the wheels off. Just as if you have had new tyres on the car, its your respon sibility to check the all the wheel nuts or studs are still torqued to the correct setting and you should do this after a few kilometers. I would be almost certain that the issue is either due to the wheel nuts not being torqued properly, not being checked later by yourselves, or possibly they have been overtorqued and the studs stretched.

I learned this the hard way during my HGV days. The tyre fitters had been in over the weekend and instead of using a proper torque wrench, they just used a long bar with as much force as they could muster. Consequently I lost a front steer on the M1. Had I checked, it may not have happened, and every driver is held responsible, but very few people I know bothered to check the legion of nuts on an eighteen wheeler.

Really sorry to say this, but it does seem to come down to your responsibility regardless of the cause. I feel you will have very little recourse via the service agent.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Sorry to hear of your troubles which given the incident could have turned out much worse.
It’s difficult to say if the service Center did tighten your wheel nuts to the correct torque. Alloy wheels on caravans are sensitive to correct torque and on my van Swift even announced a post manufacture increase in the torque from 115 to 130Nm. I always check them using my own torque wrench before leaving the service Center and after 15 miles as advised in my Swift handbook. I also check them before every trip irrespective of whether the wheels have been removed or loosened. I carry the torque wrench with me on trips. Some years back Baileys had a number of wheels coming adrift and introduced modified wheel bolts.
Regarding the gas I leave my bottle connected but ensure it is turned off by shutting down on its screw valve. But I leave the isolation valves in the caravan open.
 
Apr 21, 2018
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It appears I would be safer not getting the van serviced which just can't possibly be right! I certainly need an after service, service!
Crazy.
The service centre is suggesting that maybe the van has been tampered with...unlikely in a gold star storage facility fully covered with CCTV.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I can understand your disappointment but what advice does your owners handbook give for checking wheel nut torque after replacing wheels. Mine says 9 miles and you did 55+ miles. Proving that they did not torque up the nuts could be virtually impossible given both the distance driven and the time since it was serviced. Proving over torque stretched the bolts would be feasible but but complex. Was it a NCC approved service Center?
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I can't understand this caravaning mentality about wheel nuts.As a car mechanic of 20yrs plus experience,only on vans with twin wheels have I ever said to any customer,it's your responsibility to check your wheels are tight.If both surfaces are clean and wheel torqued then you should have no problem,until you remove wheels at next service.
Ask yourself this,do you go out every day and check your car wheel nuts?no didn't think so.Having said all that I do check my caravan wheel nuts when I set off from home,just for safety's sake.
Michelle,do you have a service sheet that says wheels torqued? Some garages double sign a service sheet to prove and back each other up.As above replies you would be hard pushed to prove it was loose,but a good garage will try to be sympathetic,not much help I know.
 
Oct 17, 2010
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On all the services I'had done the engineer has always done the final torque in mine or my wifes presents, which we have signed for, the torque figure noted on the form, which we have been asked to sign. Even when we pick the van up after we bought it, the wheels were done before we hitched up.
In all cases it was made clear to us that, we needed to re-torque them within a number of miles.As the driver, that is my responsibility. As has been said I also check the wheels before the start of any journey.
And after watching the wheel come off my brothering laws motor when following down the A46 I check my motors before a long run.
 
Apr 21, 2018
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I must admit, I've been driving a car for nearly 30 years and never checked my wheel nuts!
I can understand one wheel coming loose, but both, this is not a coincidence.
The work sheet said they had checked the gas and made safe, they clearly hadn't so I'm struggling to take a service sheet as a guarantee for anything.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Brasso530 said:
I can't understand this caravaning mentality about wheel nuts.As a car mechanic of 20yrs plus experience,only on vans with twin wheels have I ever said to any customer,it's your responsibility to check your wheels are tight.If both surfaces are clean and wheel torqued then you should have no problem,until you remove wheels at next service.
Ask yourself this,do you go out every day and check your car wheel nuts?no didn't think so.Having said all that I do check my caravan wheel nuts when I set off from home,just for safety's sake.
Michelle,do you have a service sheet that says wheels torqued? Some garages double sign a service sheet to prove and back each other up.As above replies you would be hard pushed to prove it was loose,but a good garage will try to be sympathetic,not much help I know.

When I take a car in for new tyres or rebalancing every service depot I use either ask me to bring it back in 50 miles or give me the receipt which recommends torque to be checked after 50 miles.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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Whilst other people have said that it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your van , which is true , but I am concerned , in fact very concerned, by your service centre.

You already have an independent person, your recovery guy, who found the offside wheel nuts loose, which makes me wonder just who serviced your van.

Also the gas being left in the On position is against all good practice.

If the service centre is an Approved Workshop then there are a number of things they must do when handing a van back after a service.

The first is to torque the wheel nuts in your presence, and get you to sign that you have seen it and agree that it has been done.

Secondly all services, gas , water, electric must be left in the OFF position and that is a check on the service sheet, which you should have been given along with a detailed damp check sheet.

I do not understand where you got the check wheelnuts after 50 miles? it is recommended to be much shorter than that , around 10 miles at most.

I still cannot understand how workshops get away with the shoddy work they do, and it is , in my view, wrong to shift all the blame for things going wrong on to the owner not checking what has supposedly been done by so called "professionals" but needs checking by unqualified and largely none too familiar with the workings of a caravan owner?????? crazy and wrong whichever way you look at it.

In all the time I have been servicing caravans not a single customer has lost a wheel after the service, nor have they found any loose wheelnuts, or gas and other services left in the On position.

Sadly, unless you have the resources to do it, making the service centre own up to incompetence will be almost impossible.
However, in future you now know what to look for and INSIST upon when getting your van back, but even better may be to use an Approved Mobile workshop to do your servicing where you can watch what they are doing and ask any questions during the service and deprive the service centre you have just used of the money they would have got from you.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Michelle8516 said:
I must admit, I've been driving a car for nearly 30 years and never checked my wheel nuts!
I can understand one wheel coming loose, but both, this is not a coincidence.
The work sheet said they had checked the gas and made safe, they clearly hadn't so I'm struggling to take a service sheet as a guarantee for anything.

Both wheels are subject to virtually identical conditions so why shouldn’t they both loosen equally if they hadn’t been retorqued.
Re the gas how was it unsafe. Was the gas bottle screw down valve in the open or closed position. Your first post didn’t say.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I'm sorry to read of your experience. I haven't lost a wheel, but I have lost wheel nuts from an alloy car wheel, which was disconcerting enough.

Sadly whilst you may have the support of the engineer who attended your stricken caravan, it will I suspect be quite difficult to gather enough irrefutable evidence to show the service centre failed to tighten the nuts correctly.

The problem of caravans loosing wheels has been reported several times here on the forum since 2005 and been debated extensively,. I recall it usually appeared to be the nearside or left hand side alloy's that were coming off, just like the OPs. But as far as I can check, we could not come to any conclusive reason why it seemed to be affectining caravans.

Good practice guidelines about changing wheels and rechecking torque after a few miles were highlighted. Some caravan manufactures did revise torque settings, and there were a number of after market high tensile bolt sets available, since when the number of forum reports seems to have dropped.

It was suggested the reason the near side seemed to be more affected was possibly due to the the number of potholes which seem to be more prevalent near the kerbs, and the direction of rotation of the wheel.

Its still something of a mystery why trailers do seem to more prone to this than cars.
 
Jul 15, 2008
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I am no expert but I would at least report this incident to my insurance company to get their advice.

You may be covered for the damage caused by this incident and they would know if a claim could be made against the service centre and possible put pressure on the centre for compensation.
Wheels should not become detached if correctly fitted by a conscientious fitter carrying out the correct procedures.

I certainly would not let my caravan anywhere near such a service centre in future.
 
May 7, 2012
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I agree, report this to your insurance company and let them deal with the question of recovery. They have a lot more clout than you have than you when pursuing a claim and cannot be fobbed off as the dealer seems to have done here.
I do not accept that you should know and have the tools to retorque the wheels and if both were loose then the obvious answer is that it was not done correctly by the dealer. The dealer should warn you to check the wheels and if this was not done there is a claim there.
Because of the way the wheels rotate only the one side will normally come off if they are loose, the direction of rotation at the other side means they should tighten if anything, so the fact that they were loose is an indication that the dealer got it wrong. Frankly I think you have a good claim against the dealer but your insurer is best placed to do this.
If you are a member of either of the clubs you might want to speak to their Legal Helpline.
 
Sep 5, 2016
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I've just had a look at several service reports and at the bottom it says , wheel nuts tightened to 85ft/lbs, and an advisory to check after twenty miles, thing is not all caravanners have a torque tool, in days gone by when we changed our own blow outs on the lorries it was just a case of tightening the wheels nuts till they cracked up,
 
May 7, 2012
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The law will not require you to read the service book after each service. If the dealer does not advise you to check the wheel nuts then he is likely to have a liability here.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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85ft/lbs is not a figure that anyone uses, it converts to 115Nm, which again is not a figure that appears anywhere in anything to do with caravans.
Steel Wheels should be torqued to 88Nm, and Alloy Wheels have a couple of different figures ranging from 120nNm to 130Nm.

Whatever they have done is wrong, whichever way you look at it, either too tight for Steel wheels or too loose for Alloys.
 
Sep 5, 2016
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I know 85ft/lbs converts to 115Nm that's what's on my service sheet and
the person who did the job torqued them up to, this morning I checked the wheels and they are at 115Nm, but you say they should be 130Nm, when did all this come about because there is plenty of info out there telling folk to torque alloys to 115Nm, can you direct me to the site that suggests 130Nm is the correct torque for alloys,
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Damian-Moderator said:
85ft/lbs is not a figure that anyone uses, it converts to 115Nm, which again is not a figure that appears anywhere in anything to do with caravans.
Steel Wheels should be torqued to 88Nm, and Alloy Wheels have a couple of different figures ranging from 120nNm to 130Nm.

Whatever they have done is wrong, whichever way you look at it, either too tight for Steel wheels or too loose for Alloys.

You may wish to qualify your comments as I have three service invoices for 2014,15 and 16 which show clearly that the wheels were torqued to 85ftlb. Page 30 paragraph 9 of my Owners Handbook under "Changing Wheel" states" Tighten all five bolts, according to Figure A to 88nm (65ftib) for steel wheels and 115Nm (85 ftlb) for alloy wheels using torque wrench...." However, for some reason I was aware that Swift had amended the torques to 88Nm and 130 Nm respectively for steel and alloy wheels so I have annotated and amended my documents. When this change was promulgated I don't know but at least until Spring 2016 one West Midlands approved service centre was still using 85ftlb.
I may add that I bought the caravan in early 2017 and since then the wheel torques have been in line with Swifts amended specification, and the Main Dealer service also used the later specification. Why Swift increased the torque from 115Nm to 130Nm I don't know, but can only surmise that some caravans may have had a wheel displaced.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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camel said:
I know 85ft/lbs converts to 115Nm that's what's on my service sheet and
the person who did the job torqued them up to, this morning I checked the wheels and they are at 115Nm, but you say they should be 130Nm, when did all this come about because there is plenty of info out there telling folk to torque alloys to 115Nm, can you direct me to the site that suggests 130Nm is the correct torque for alloys,

What make caravan do you have? I recommend that you contact the makers technical support department for a specific answer. Swift have issued an Addendum to Caravan Handbook which is a sticky reference 1098560 for my caravan.
 
Sep 5, 2016
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I think when the likes of Swift , Bailey and the rest of that lot who go under the name of caravan manufacturers inform their agents to a just the torque settings surely it must come from the chassis manufacturer,
 
Nov 11, 2009
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camel said:
I think when the likes of Swift , Bailey and the rest of that lot who go under the name of caravan manufacturers inform their agents to a just the torque settings surely it must come from the chassis manufacturer,

Where it comes from isn’t relevant as the caravan maker is the Design Authority responsible for ensuring configuration control of their products specification.
 
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