Don't Forget Your Safety Checks!

Catherine and I just got back home a bit ago after receiving a painful reminder of why we’re supposed to do walk around safety checks before going anywhere in your vehicle. While we were preparing cat food, we decided to take a break halfway through to go get something to eat for ourselves. On the drive to the restaurant, I heard some weird metal sounds from the car, but I thought they might be something in the engine, which we’ve known was causing us some trouble.

We got to the restaurant fine, but we got less than a quarter mile away before suddenly the car started making terrible sounds and shaking badly. As soon as I began pulling into a nearby parking lot, the driver’s side, back corner of the truck fell to the ground and I had to drag it into the spot, and watch as the tire rolled down the street a little ways, stopping traffic as it went. Awesome.

After getting pulled in, I immediately went to retrieve the tire, eliciting some ‘funny’ comments from the barely-out-of-high school kids on the road, but not any actual help. The truck had a jack, of course, but the jack was designed for replacing a flat tire, not a missing one, and there was no way to get it under the axle to jack up the vehicle. Luckily, I do own a 2-ton floor jack. Of course, it was across town. Catherine made some calls and we were able to get a friend to come down and drive me to get the jack. Which then wasn’t tall enough. So we found someone with a taller jack, and proceed to do the ‘jack shuffle’ to get the new jack into the proper jack point so we could reattach the tire.

Of course, we’re missing a full set of lugs nuts, so we had to scavenge a few from the other tires so we could at least reattach the fallen wheel, and drive home. Between a few trips back to the car, it took at least an hour and a half to take care of this, and I still need to go to the local auto parts store to get a set of lug nuts to replace the missing ones.

The kicker? Catherine had had this wheel off the truck a couple months back, when she was doing break work with a friend while I was feverish. Apparently, they had failed to get the nuts back on correctly, though it wasn’t a huge problem given how long it took to materialize as a big problem. However, I can’t blame her. On the drive to the restaurant, I’d noticed some oddities in the handling and a couple of odd noises that should have prompted me to do the walk around that I know I was told in Driver’s Ed I should always do. And even if I hadn’t had those warning signs, if I’d made that habit in the first place, I probably could have avoided this problem, and the damage to the body that came with it.