Wheels coming off???

Aug 1, 2005
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Somewhere, and I cannot find where, I have read about caravan accidents occuring because the wheel nuts work loose and the wheel comes off. My Haynes manual also alludes to this.

I am now having nightmares about this. We have just had new tyres put on so hopefully we are ok for our next trip. But realistically, does this happen? often? Do I need to buy a torque wrench and check them every time?

Please put an end to my nightmares!!!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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That sort of thing can happen with substandard wheels which are not up to the job. However, assuming you have factory fitted ones on the caravan, they should be OK (with the emphasis on should). It would be good practice to have the wheel nuts re-torqued after the first 100 miles or so following a wheel change.
 
Aug 1, 2005
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Thanks Lutz. Going down to the South West at the weekend so may get a torque wrench so can do them at destination. I think that the wheels are the original ones, but I really have no idea.

Thought I had read somewhere about someone painting little yellow marks on the wheel nuts so you can see if they work loose. But I can see I could get obsessive compulsive about this sort of thing if Im not careful.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Thanks Lutz. Going down to the South West at the weekend so may get a torque wrench so can do them at destination. I think that the wheels are the original ones, but I really have no idea.

Thought I had read somewhere about someone painting little yellow marks on the wheel nuts so you can see if they work loose. But I can see I could get obsessive compulsive about this sort of thing if Im not careful.
Hello Alyson,

To put your mind at rest, I suggest checking your wheel nuts before the journey, rather than afterwards or do both!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Alyson,

never use caravan wheel trims, Fitted yellow arrows to each wheel nut,( As used by varios bus companys)that way you can check at the start and end of every journey whether the wheel nuts have started to move.

Roy
 
Apr 13, 2005
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as my van has alloy wheels with resessed holes for the nuts i found i could not fit the arrows that are commonly available so i just painted a small red dot on each nut end and a small red dot next to it inside the recess of the wheel, now all i have to do is walk round the van at each stop and have a look at the dots, if any have moved i know i have a problem, as yet its never been a problem but better safe than sorry.
 
Aug 1, 2005
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Good Idea Icemaker. Roy, where do you get these yellow markers from? I thought they were something that you painted on not something you bought.

I will take my wheel trims off now, but the wheels are so ugly on old vans!
 
Aug 1, 2005
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Thanks Lutz. Going down to the South West at the weekend so may get a torque wrench so can do them at destination. I think that the wheels are the original ones, but I really have no idea.

Thought I had read somewhere about someone painting little yellow marks on the wheel nuts so you can see if they work loose. But I can see I could get obsessive compulsive about this sort of thing if Im not careful.
I can see the sense in that John. The reason I didnt say check before was I assumed that Mr Kwik fit did his job correctly last week!
 
Dec 16, 2003
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Many years ago as a newbie to caravaning I had new tyres fitted to my caravan. Took the wheels home bolted them on and lowered the van ready to torque the bolts. I got distracted by the kids with some gear to stow in the van. 3 miles on way to Portsmouth ferry and the near side bolts had wound undone and as I crossed some lights, BANG the wheel fell off. Red faced I had to travel home 3 miles on two bolts and call P&O to reserve the next day late ferry so I could find new bolts on a Sunday morning. Off side bolts were not torqued but the rotation on that side kept them tight! BE WARNED!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Alyson,

never use caravan wheel trims, Fitted yellow arrows to each wheel nut,( As used by varios bus companys)that way you can check at the start and end of every journey whether the wheel nuts have started to move.

Roy
You can buy these from caravan shops, packs of 8 arrows sized to suit your wheel nuts.

Roy
 
Aug 1, 2005
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What is puzzling me is that I have never seen or heard of this happening on a car. Perhaps it does, and I have lead a sheltered life. Can someone explain to me why it happens on caravans?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Assuming they were torqued up correctly in the first place, there are two possible reasons for the wheelnuts loosening - either the studs have stretched or the wheel itself has deformed very slightly under load in the area where it is bolted to the hub. I rather suspect the latter. Car manufacturers spend a lot of effort developing wheels with their suppliers. Maybe the caravan builders with their relatively small volumes just haven't got the resources to test all conceivable road conditions and they are tempted to cut product costs (always assuming that the wheels that have come adrift were the factory fitted ones)
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I always check the wheel bolt torque before every trip since I stopped to help someone whose wheel was inside his sink unit after it came undone.

It seems to be the nearside wheel that is the one that usually comes off.

Its not just sub-standard or old wheels that come off as I remember the CC towcar testers a few years ago had a wheel come off a new ABI caravan.

Strangely all the checking with a torque wrench on my caravans has never revealed one loose bolt.!!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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You need a torque wrench, they're not expensive, from Argos. I always check at home before each trip.

It's also useful to re-set the car wheel bolts torque as tyre fitters ALWAYS tighten them far too tight. I can only undo them by standing on the end of an extended rachet spanner, and I'm certainly not light!

The only time I've found a loose wheel was immediately after my car came back from dealer servicing, one of the reasons I do my own servicing on car and caravan once the warranties have expired.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I experienced this happening on a Bailey 500/5 in July of this year on the way to Merley Court. The van was bought new approximately 2 years ago and had only been used about 5 times as just after buying my wife was taken ill. Three bolts sheared, one disappeared and the fifth was inside the hub cap with the thread almost ripped off. The wheel damaged the floor, knocking the cooker, which had never been used, and fridge across the centre of the van, the near side panel, door and roof were all damaged and the door to the underside of the wash hand basin came off. Don't know if the chasis or hub is damaged - awaiting insurance assessor's report. The wheel bounced over three cars behind and then over an eight foot hedge. Luckily, apart from the van, there was no injury or damage to any body/thing else. I had the yellow markers fitted to the bolt heads and on leaving home all was O.K. I have since heard of four other cases of this happening so far this season.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Like Alyson pointed out in an earlier message, the failure rate is alarming compared to that of cars. If proportionately as many cars had the same incident rate, there would be an outcry in the whole industry.

It may be worthwhile trying to find out whether the problem is linked to any particular caravan manufacturer. Obviously, from the previous response, Bailey is involved. Any others?
 
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Like Alyson pointed out in an earlier message, the failure rate is alarming compared to that of cars. If proportionately as many cars had the same incident rate, there would be an outcry in the whole industry.

It may be worthwhile trying to find out whether the problem is linked to any particular caravan manufacturer. Obviously, from the previous response, Bailey is involved. Any others?
one point no one has mentioned is every car i have ever worked on the wheel has been a snug fit on the hub centre, i was shocked when refitting a wheel on 2003 elddis that it was not supported by the hub centre but just by the cones on the hub bolts ( 5 bolts on mine and yes i check them all the time)
 
Jul 11, 2005
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Like Alyson pointed out in an earlier message, the failure rate is alarming compared to that of cars. If proportionately as many cars had the same incident rate, there would be an outcry in the whole industry.

It may be worthwhile trying to find out whether the problem is linked to any particular caravan manufacturer. Obviously, from the previous response, Bailey is involved. Any others?
I picked up a new Bailey Ranger 2 weeks ago and was told to check the wheel nuts after 20 miles, pressumably Bailey realise this is an issue. I noticed my new van has tyres manufactured in China! Should I change them?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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You need a torque wrench, they're not expensive, from Argos. I always check at home before each trip.

It's also useful to re-set the car wheel bolts torque as tyre fitters ALWAYS tighten them far too tight. I can only undo them by standing on the end of an extended rachet spanner, and I'm certainly not light!

The only time I've found a loose wheel was immediately after my car came back from dealer servicing, one of the reasons I do my own servicing on car and caravan once the warranties have expired.
Hello RogerL

Trading Standards would be very interested to be told of companies that over tighten wheel nuts.

The car manufactures specify a set torque which is designed to offer maximum security whilst not over extending (stretching) the bolt/nut.

The fitters should be using a torque wrench to set the correct tension in the bolt. If they over tighten they will be increasing the potential for bolt failure, and would be liable if a failure occurs.
 
Aug 1, 2005
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Im pleased to say our first long trip has been completed without incident (600+ miles). But naturally it remains a concern.

As Lutz states, I would also be very interested if any particular caravan manufacturer is implicated, if any particular tyre is implicated or if any particular age of caravan/chassis are implicated. Statistics would be difficult to compile, because we would tend only to get responses from people who have probs and people who read these forums. That means that the sample would be skewed. Are statistics on caravan reliability maintained anywhere?

By the way, before I set off I went to our local caravan shop to try and find these yellow arrows. They sold me some red plastic things which were supposed to lock the wheel nuts, they fit over two nuts at a time, but they wouldnt fit on our wheels.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello RogerL

Trading Standards would be very interested to be told of companies that over tighten wheel nuts.

The car manufactures specify a set torque which is designed to offer maximum security whilst not over extending (stretching) the bolt/nut.

The fitters should be using a torque wrench to set the correct tension in the bolt. If they over tighten they will be increasing the potential for bolt failure, and would be liable if a failure occurs.
Every tyre fitter that I've ever used, in the last 20 years over-tightens wheel nuts.

One time, even jumping up and down with my full 17 stone on the end of the wheel brace wouldn't undo it. In the end I had to use my torque wrench on about 200 Nm to undo it.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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one point no one has mentioned is every car i have ever worked on the wheel has been a snug fit on the hub centre, i was shocked when refitting a wheel on 2003 elddis that it was not supported by the hub centre but just by the cones on the hub bolts ( 5 bolts on mine and yes i check them all the time)
What you say applies only to caravans with AlKo chassis. Explorer Group caravans, for example, have BPW chassis and they do have wheels which are supported by the centre hub. This isn't meant to be a statement that BPW chassis are any better than AlKo, though, just an observation.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I spoke to both BPW and AlKo about wheels coming off and they say they have virtually no reports of such happening. As they do not supply the wheels with the chassis but leave selection of the wheel equipment to the caravan manufacturer, this does indicate to me that there could possibly be a connection between wheel failure rate and caravan manufacturer.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I find it hard to believe that Alko and BPW have no knowledge of this problem as its well publicised and as has been said even mentioned in workshop manuals.I am not doubting that they gave that reply but it seems like a head in the sand reply to me.

A couple of years ago in the Birmingham area there was a lot of reported cases of ambulances losing wheels so its not just caravans that are affected.Even formula 1 cars have been known to have one come adrift.

I have had a new caravan supplied with steel wheel bolts fitted to alloy wheels and torqued to the steel wheel setting even though I stood next to the fitter and asked what torque they should be set at.

Fortunately the salesman was more clued up than the Fitter.

Perhaps Alko and BPW salesmen could be more clued up than the service dept on this issue!!!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Maybe the information got as far as the caravan manufacturer but was not passed on to AlKo or BPW because it was obvious that they were not responsible.
 

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