19 October 2012

Losses and Lessons: Play it safe before you get into wheel trouble

VEHICLE COVERED: 1941 Ford F-100 pickup

WHAT WENT WRONG: We stress the importance of inspecting your vehicle on a regular basis because unless your classic has undergone a recent restoration, chances are good that the older the car, the older the parts. That means as those parts wear out, odds are greater that something might break or fail to work properly. The owner of this 1941 Ford F-100 pickup can attest to that. While driving down a rural road in the state of Washington, one of the pickup’s wheels seized, pulling the truck off the road, through a fence, down an embankment and through a blackberry bush before crashing into a plum tree.

DAMAGE/LOSS: Fortunately, the driver of the F-100 wasn’t injured. But his unexpected detour through the countryside caused significant damage to the pickup’s front fenders, grille, hood and cowl, running boards and driver’s side door – so much so that the vehicle was determined a total loss. Hagerty paid the truck’s Guaranteed Value of $15,000, as well as $4,257 to repair the fence and replace the plum tree.

LESSON: At the risk of sounding like your mother, we can’t stress it enough: Check and re-check the safety features of your classic. Whether you live in the Midwest and make it a habit to inspect your brakes, tires, lug nuts and steering every spring before your first drive, or you live in a warmer climate and schedule this task annually, don’t take shortcuts when it comes to playing it safe on the road. It could save your life or someone else’s.

20 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Jim NC November 12, 2012 at 20:37
    How does a wheel seize?
  • 2
    Rob Indiana November 13, 2012 at 21:52
    A front wheel will stop rotating if a wheel bearing siezes
  • 3
    Dennis Michigan November 13, 2012 at 09:55
    I don't think Ford started using the "F" classification for their trucks until 1948. From 1948-1952, "F1, F2," etc.; 1953 "F100" began. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
  • 4
    Mike Dogtown, Mo. November 14, 2012 at 14:37
    A wheel can seize due to wheel bearing failure.
  • 5
    Mike Dogtown, Mo. November 14, 2012 at 14:37
    A wheel can seize due to wheel bearing failure.
  • 6
    Dave VA November 14, 2012 at 07:19
    How would inspecting the car have been able to determine a wheel was going to seize?
  • 7
    Dave VA November 14, 2012 at 07:19
    How would inspecting the car have been able to determine a wheel was going to seize?
  • 8
    Bill Benenati Chesterfield Mich 48051 November 14, 2012 at 07:44
    Wheel itself does not seize. Sounds like the wheel bearing dried up, or was not packed right? I had a 39 Chevy I had just b ought and the right front wheel started smoking. Stopped immediately. Lucky it did not melt the spindle and I saved the car. The race was dry as a bone. Prior owner neglect.
  • 9
    Eduardo Ortega Reno Sparks Nevada November 14, 2012 at 19:44
    I belive the F-100 began in 1952
  • 10
    Norm Indiana November 14, 2012 at 08:03
    The wheel bearing typically seizes causing the wheel to stop turning.
  • 11
    Larry Pippin United States November 14, 2012 at 08:43
    I am lucky enough to have a four post lift for my vehicles, and since I build and maintain them myself I make it a point every spring before the driving season begins to go over every nut, bolt and other critical areas to make things are as they should be along with regular brake inspection/cleaning and bearing repacks. Makes a whole lot of easy confident road trips.
  • 12
    West Arizona November 14, 2012 at 09:44
    Or in my case a mechanic I paid dearly to inspect such things who I discovered later had done nothing. I am now the soul mechanic and inspector after losing thousands to a fraud and a near catastrophe.
  • 13
    West Arizona November 14, 2012 at 09:44
    Or in my case a mechanic I paid dearly to inspect such things who I discovered later had done nothing. I am now the soul mechanic and inspector after losing thousands to a fraud and a near catastrophe.
  • 14
    Robinson Dude, right on there broethr. November 29, 2012 at 03:29
    Dude, right on there broethr.
  • 15
    Tony Michigan January 18, 2013 at 15:19
    A wheel bearing can seize if someone improperly tightens (as in over-tightens) the spindle nut after repacking the bearings. Some well-intentioned owners incorrectly assume "the tighter the better". It can also occur if the bearings were excessively packed with grease, causing the seal to fail from the excess and losing the grease (now oil).
  • 16
    Dave Columbus Ohio January 28, 2013 at 11:04
    First generation (1948–1952) The first F-Series truck (known as the Ford Bonus-Built) was introduced in 1948 as a replacement for the previous car-based pickup line introduced in 1941. The F-Series was sold in eight different weight ratings, with pickup, panel truck, cab-over engine (COE), conventional truck, and school bus chassis body styles. Second generation (1953–1956) The second generation trucks were given their now familiar names: The F-1 became the F-100, the F-2 became the F-250, and the F-3 became the 1-ton F-350.
  • 17
    Herman Bodkin nashville, TN January 30, 2013 at 22:07
    The vehicle may have had bonded brake shoes. I have seen more than one with bonded shoes driven with a dragging brake or the parking brake on. After the shoes cool down, the bonding agent for the lining breaks free from the shoe itself. The lining can shift and lock a wheel.
  • 18
    Herman Bodkin nashville, TN January 30, 2013 at 22:08
    The vehicle may have had bonded brake shoes. I have seen more than one with bonded shoes driven with a dragging brake or the parking brake on. After the shoes cool down, the bonding agent for the lining breaks free from the shoe itself. The lining can shift and lock a wheel.
  • 19
    Herman Bodkin nashville, TN January 30, 2013 at 22:08
    The vehicle may have had bonded brake shoes. I have seen more than one with bonded shoes driven with a dragging brake or the parking brake on. After the shoes cool down, the bonding agent for the lining breaks free from the shoe itself. The lining can shift and lock a wheel.
  • 20
    Joseph Ficht Macomb, Michigan (summer) February 20, 2013 at 16:22
    Each year I successfully drive my restored 1965 Plymouth Valiant cross country to Seattle, Washington which is over 5,000 miles round trip. I enter the car, which is 100% original except for the radial tires and paint job, in the Seattle Art car show. I've done this four times and the worst that happened was a u-joint needing to be replaced. The secret to safe long distance driving are brakes and tires and wheels. Since many older cars have "single" brake systems, the brake lines and hoses must be checked and replaced if they show any signs of rust of cracking. Also, since classic cars sit a lot, the tires should be inspected and replaced if they show cracks and "dry rot" and replaced even if they have a lot of a lot tread left. Finally wheel and axle bearing should be checked and replaced if necessary. When in doubt, replace them. A $30 part isn't worth a wreck. A driver and classic car can survive a non-charging alternator/generator or overheating radiator but brake failure and blowouts can lead to a catastrophic accident. Finally is one is planning a long trip. it's best to have some shorter trial runs beforehand, such a trips to the store or weekend "cruises" and then maybe an intermediate outing of a 100 miles or so, as most incipient mechanical failures can be detected in advance. My Valiant was rescued from a Houston, TX salvage yard 18 years ago with 164,000 miles. It was rust free so I bought it for $300, rebuilt the 170 cid "slant six" motor and have since driven it through over 30 different states. It now has over 250,000 miles (The Mopar 904 trans is original and hasn't been rebuilt.) and cruises smoothly at 70mph on the freeways.

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