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.

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    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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