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2G Best candidate for 'maybe my front wheel is falling off'?

waltah

Proven Member
37
8
Mar 2, 2011
fairfield, Virginia
'95 GST bought two weeks ago, driven a couple hundred miles since, no major problems reported by p.o. or noted since. Returning from a short night test drive (for headlight aim) and about 1/2 mile from home on two-lane mountain road with no place to stop I hear a sudden ker-thunk ker-thunk ker-thunk, wheel rotation speed. Slow down to 5 mph or so -- there is nowhere to stop here -- it gets home okay but as I turn into the driveway I notice the ker-thunk is now associated with a slight force on the steering wheel.

Parked in my 'out of service car' slot I can see nothing obvious underneath (dark and drizzling rain ...), camber and toe are eyeball normal (as best I can tell with a flashlight) but the left front wheel looks about an inch left of where it should be. This is not good ...

Clearance between the tire and upper part of the knuckle seems unchanged but something is coming loose down there. I have no happy thoughts about just what ...

But definitely thankful that whatever it is happened where it did and at a speed of 25 mph or so. 'New' cars are always exciting but this is a bit more than I care for.
 

waltah

Proven Member
37
8
Mar 2, 2011
fairfield, Virginia
I found that recall: "1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse Suspension Recall 00V421001" Damage to the rubber boot on the ball joint during factory assembly could lead to corrosion and ultimately cause the lower lateral arm ball joint to separate. Over half a million cars potentially affected!

When I looked under again this AM it all looked fine but the wheel still looked not quite right. When I picked up that corner the problem was obvious -- the lug nuts were all loose and one stud is broken off.

I had that wheel off about ten days ago, put it back as I usually do with a solid two handed twist on a T-wrench. That was not enough. I put it on again, this time with a torque wrench to 100 lb-ft; until it's fixed completely it's on very limited local duty and I'll check tightness every trip. I've ordered the hub assembly -- I don't want to trust the other studs.

No fool like an old fool.

There may also be a deeper problem. Wheels should be a slight interference fit on the hubs should they not? The weight of the car isn't supposed to be on the lug nuts but on the hub with the nuts limited to holding the wheel on there solidly. The aftermarket wheels that came on the car have some clearance -- they go right on, meaning the lug nuts and studs have the whole job. They're plenty strong enough but the inevitable rolling side thrust on the nuts will tend to undo the ones on one side or the other.

Years ago -- into the 50's that I remember -- cars had left-hand thread lug nuts on one side or the other. (Don't remember which side that was.) The theory was forward driving tightened on both sides. I suppose studies showed that to be unnecessary but it was an added defense.

I have a set of OE Mitsubishi alloy wheels that I had planned to put on. I'll move that up.

If anyone knows the details of how a wheel should fit, please educate me. I know on steel-wheel Mitsubishis in the same years you better keep anti-seize on the hubs and when starting with a 'new' car you can expect a fight taking off wheels because nobody else uses it. If proper alloy wheels fit like that then anti-seize compound would be even more important.

Thanks for the comment, Pauleyman.
 

dwb

Proven Member
51
14
Sep 9, 2021
Broomfield, Colorado
Glad you found it before you lost a wheel! I wasn't quite so fortunate many years ago. I always use a torque wrench now and set it at 90ft-lb

If lugs come loose on a drive wheel, usually the right side due to the rotation of the wheel, you'll hear a thumping sound under minimal load. The thump will go away under braking and acceleration, at least did in my case.

Hub centric rings are often needed with aftermarket wheels.
 

waltah

Proven Member
37
8
Mar 2, 2011
fairfield, Virginia
Aftermarket wheels usually come with a plastic or nylon hub adaptor. Their bore size is larger to fit multiple applications. I'm not sure but this sounds like it might be your issue.
That makes sense -- there are no hub adapters with these wheels.

This was a 'project car' that was given to the PO daughter and her husband. All the engine and turbo stuff seems to be basically well done but many details are real casual. Unsupported lines flopping around, the oil pressure sender disconnected and idiot light burned out, the front bumper cover held on with just a few screws and none of the other hardware, the instrument cluster is from ??? -- the low coolant light printed circuit trace goes to a different pin on the connector than the wire from the coolant bottle switch, stuff like that.

The cluster had a lamp for ABS which this car doesn't have so maybe it's a transplant. In the Expo LRVs for those years they moved one trace/connector pin when they added ABS, evidently in order to avoid having to use a jumper. Everything else in the cluster is right -- just needed bulbs.

I suppose I could buy the hub adapters but I'm going to replace the wheels very soon anyhow so I'll just keep a close watch on the lug nuts.
I always use a torque wrench now and set it at 90ft-lb

If lugs come loose on a drive wheel, usually the right side due to the rotation of the wheel, you'll hear a thumping sound under minimal load. The thump will go away under braking and acceleration, at least did in my case.
Mine was beyond ''goes away under braking and acceleration' I guess. I'm a convert to 'always use a torque wrench now'!

Tnanks, everybody.
 
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