Jan 10, 2016
Current Location
Burlington, VT
I don't usually post these experiences here, so I'm feeling this out. Here goes.

Driving down the road Sunday I started to notice my driver's side front wheel "dribbling" over every tiny bump in the road. I'd hear it bounce around on any tiny thing even a slight crack in the asphalt. I pulled over and when going slowly I stuck my head out the door and could actually see the wheel twitching, snapping, crunching around. Not good.

Got underneath and saw this.

nldkca2-jpg.30513_So, my wheel almost fell off._Van Dwelling / Rubber Tramping_Squat the Planet_9:14 PM

Evidently a bolt had run off down the road somewhere. I'm not real knowledgeable with front end stuff, but I think that's the steering knuckle it used to be bolted through...

cx15cjf-jpg.30514_So, my wheel almost fell off._Van Dwelling / Rubber Tramping_Squat the Planet_9:14 PM

At this point I took the bolt out of the opposite side to match up and walked into Lowe's nearby. They didn't have anything big enough, but I was able to confirm by comparing thread pitch that it was metric. Something bigger than 12mm.

I looked up on my phone the nearest auto parts store. Closes at 7:00 PM. Estimated walking time to destination: 41 minutes. Current time: 6:20 PM. Well, shit.

So I started jogging. Called the parts store on the way. "Yeah, a bolt fell out of my front end and I'm walking to your store, I just wanted to see if you wouldn't lock the door right at 7:00 if I haven't made it yet..." The monkey on the other end explained that their lights are on a timer from the corporate office so they wouldn't be able to stay open late. Then he told me to explain what I wanted so I didn't come all that way for nothing. It didn't matter whether he could have confirmed they have it, because if I spent five minutes explaining it to him, he would still say "...okay we close at 7:00, good luck" and I'd be 5 minutes late. I'd rather walk and find out they don't have it than arrive at 7:01 and find they locked the doors at 6:58.

I made it in the door at about 6:50. I told the same guy who had answered the phone that I needed a bolt around 14mm or 16mm. He pointed me to an assortment of packaged 1/4" nickel plated bolts and such.

Found someone else who turned out to be the acting manager. She knew enough to know that the other guy was an idiot, but it turned out she wasn't much better. I told her I was just looking for an assortment of larger bolts, 14mm or 16mm, as might be used in suspension/steering parts. She started punching things into the computer. "Don't you have some assortment of larger bolts back there somewhere?" Her eyes glazed over. She said there was no steering knuckle available in the computer. I knew I was in trouble when she typed "bolt" into the computer.

Finally she walked behind the counter to some big metal drawers which were marked things like wheel studs and bolts, 12mm-16mm. Sweet Jesus! That's what I wanted in the first place. As it turned out, the size was 16mm and they had only one 16mm bolt. It was too long and would have poked through to my wheel. I had no other options, so I took it anyway. It came in a package with the matching nut. She couldn't figure out how to ring it up so she gave it to me for free. I would have bought large washers to space the head back for length, but they didn't have any.

hbei9ne-jpg.30515_So, my wheel almost fell off._Van Dwelling / Rubber Tramping_Squat the Planet_9:14 PM

Lowe's and everywhere else was closed so I walked back to the van to see what I could make work. I didn't have any washers big enough back at the van either, but fortunately I did have my milling machine.

owhemct-jpg.30516_So, my wheel almost fell off._Van Dwelling / Rubber Tramping_Squat the Planet_9:14 PM

With the cordless drill, zip ties, vice grips, and a real nice IPA from Beer World, I drilled out all of the threads from the nut and reamed out its inside diameter until it would slide freely over the shaft of the bolt. It was just the right size to take up distance on the new bolt and make it the correct length.

New and old bolts put back in place, van made whole, total cost: $0.00

I think I'll check and re-tighten those in a couple hundred miles.
Dec 2, 2014
Current Location
near Linköping, Sweden
Glad things worked out!
I went to check out a van earlier this year and the front driver side wheel came off completely during the test drive (luckily it was parked at the time).
I spent the whole trip home going through a mixture of amusement and then horror when I thought what if the wheel had fallen off while I was driving the van around?
Mar 1, 2016
Current Location
Wow awesome story man! Glad you didn't get hurt and you got it fixed up at no cost to you!


Lifetime Supporter
Apr 6, 2013
Current Location
Nice improvisation clearing out the threads on the inside of the nut and using it as a spacer...

I would deff keep an eye on it though.
If the inside diameter of that nut is not flush with the bolt surface the whole deal could still shimmy lose over time??


StP Supporter
Aug 10, 2014
Current Location
Nice save dood,

I'd still check into getting a correct replacement bolt.

All the suspension hardware is strengthened steel; wrong tensile strength and she'll shear right off!


plastic wingnut in a microwave
Sep 23, 2009
Current Location
folks who know me have my #.

this is why, however, i carry, no shit, about 25 pounds of various nuts, bolts, screws, lags, wires, connectors, etc, ranging in size from 3mm, 1/8 inch (or less) to 12" by fucking 5/8 / 17mm or better hardware with me, at all fucking times..

i absolutely fear my front end going out.
i am too fat & old to fucking jog.

but i can swear & bleed.

& fear..

but when i have my shit?

i only fear until my shit fixes stuff,,

very good save, but goodamn..

go to the $2/pound bolt bin at habitat for humanity & engage in intense, selective & (as much as is possible) indiscriminate collection of.. whatever..

i am twice yer age, my Valiant friend of Resistance..

shit.. traveling with tools since 19 fucking 78..

i'm not patient enough to think..

i just grab shit, & still have a couple of crankers from 4 fucking decades ago..

i should be fixing my damn van this very moment..

but i Love Glorious Leader, more..

all i am saying ismake sure yer tool set contains as many, many many random items, as well as yer nut, bolt, screw, washer & garblefarbel collection can hold..

but damn.

nice, contemplated & executed save..

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