What Causes a Wheel to Fall Off While Driving?

Every driver fears a wheel fall off because if your wheel suddenly detaches, you’ll lose control of your car and will likely end up in a roadside accident.

However, if you’re unsure how to prevent a wheel from falling off while driving, you may want to know what causes it in the first place. If you’d like to find out, keep reading to see what I learned!

What Causes a Wheel to Fall Off While Driving?

While there are several reasons your wheel may fall off while driving, it is typically caused by some sort of issue with the fastening. In many cases, this may occur because the lug nuts have stopped working, which could be because the nuts have broken or they weren’t installed properly.

If you’d like to learn more about what causes a wheel to fall off, how much it costs to fix a wheel bearing, and more, keep reading for more useful facts and tips!

Why Would a Tire Come Off?

Having your tire snap off is never a good thing, however, there are several different reasons why your tire may come off.

Most notably, over-tightening the bolts on your tire can cause the tire to fall off, as they will wear down quickly.

In most cases, over-tight bolts are the primary cause of wheel runoff accidents, therefore, you should be very careful regarding over-tightening your car’s bolts. Preferably, have your bolts tightened by a professional.

On the other hand, under-tightening a nut can also cause your wheel to run off. Obviously, if the wheel isn’t attached tightly to the car, it could easily pop off when you’re traveling at high speeds.

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In some cases, if your wheel has too much paint on it, the nut may not be able to hold it tightly. Therefore, it may also pop off, even if you’ve technically tightened it correctly.

Occasionally, the hub of the wheel may stop working properly. In some cases, the wheel may be overloaded or not have the proper lubrication, and both of these issues can lead to the wheel popping off.

Side note: below is a video that shows a wheel falling off a car while driving and how the driver handles the incident.

Can a Bad Wheel Bearing Cause the Wheel to Fall Off?

Your wheel bearing is what keeps the wheel attached to the rest of the vehicle, therefore, if your car has a bad wheel bearing, then it may fall off. However, this problem doesn’t generally make your wheel fall off unprompted.

Instead, you will likely notice a variety of different issues related to your wheel before it falls off, which you should keep a close eye on to prevent your wheel from detaching.

Typically, bad wheel bearings will make an audible noise, so if you notice a grinding noise, it may be from your wheel bearing. Often, this issue causes the wheel bearing to sound worse when your car goes faster.

As well, the wheel will not be nearly as responsive when you’re driving, and in many cases, users describe the wheel as being “loose.” While this issue can be caused by other problems, it may also be caused by wheel bearings.

While uneven wear can be caused by many factors, it is often related to a bad wheel bearing. Therefore, if your tire has a worn wheel bearing, it may wear unevenly.

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Can Your Wheel Fall Off From a Bad Ball Joint?

If your ball joint gets very worn, it can cause your wheel to dramatically fall off of your car.

Therefore, it’s essential to keep an eye out for problems with your ball joints. Otherwise, your wheel could pop off and cause an accident.

Therefore, you’ll need to replace your ball joint as soon as you notice signs of wear. Most ball joints will deteriorate eventually due to regular grit and dirt, and if you’re driving your car, you’ll come into contact with these issues eventually.

If your ball joint isn’t allowing for even movement from side to side, then it may be worn down, and is a sign that your ball joint needs to be changed.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Wheel Bearing?

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Wheel Bearing?

If you need to replace your wheel bearing, you’ll likely need to pay at least $60 to $150.

Typically, this covers the part alone, but if you need to replace the entire hub assembly, then you’ll need to pay closer to $200 to $400 for each wheel.

For the most part, the cost for a wheel bearing is determined by your vehicle type, as some cars are cheaper to fix than others.

Therefore, you’ll need to speak to a mechanic to determine the exact cost for your vehicle.

How Do I Know if My Ball Joints Are Bad While Driving?

To determine if your ball joint is bad, you often just have to listen, because if they are bad, then they will make a loud grinding sound.

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Typically, this sound gets worse as you accelerate, though this may be hard to tell on some occasions.

If you notice any strange sounds while driving, it is likely the sign of something wrong with your car. Therefore, you should get your car checked if you continue to notice any strange noises.

To learn more about tires, you can also see our posts on what are wheel bearings, what are tires plies, and what are highway tires.


While there are many potential causes for a wheel to fall off while driving, the most common causes are a bad wheel bearing or the result of bolts breaking or not being installed properly.

As well, a bad ball joint can cause your car wheel to fall off, and the oncoming result will be indicated by a distinct grinding sound coming from the tire area of your vehicle.

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