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Ontario man shocked after wheel comes loose and causes nearly $7,000 in damage

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A Midland, Ont. man was shocked when he was driving down the road and his front wheel came loose from his car.

"The tire just sort of came right off. It was pretty scary, it's something you don't really expect,” said Greg Pulver.

It's recommended you get your wheels retorqued following a tire change after driving about 100 kilometres, but many people either forget or feel it's not necessary.

Pulver was driving his 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage, which had the winter tires switched to summer tires just five days earlier at an oil change shop that also offered tire services.

He had driven about 250 kilometres when the wheel came loose causing damage to the wheel hub, fenders and undercarriage of the car totaling $6,700.

Pulver complained to the tire shop that the wheel must have been installed incorrectly.

"If the tires are put on properly there really shouldn't be a concern they could come loose so soon after a tire change,” he said.

But the tire shop told him: “We always emphasize with high importance that a retorque must be done between 40 to 100km.”

Pulver says while a retorque was suggested, he didn't feel it was mandatory.

"I really feel like if they thought it was that important they should have put it on the receipt paper to come back,” he said.

Kal Tire, which operates 260 tire shops across Canada, shifted to a new process dealing with the retorquing of tires in March of 2021.

Geoff Wiebe, national account manger for Kal Tire, said that some customers don’t come back to have their tires retorqued because they feel it’s not needed, they forget or think it’s too time consuming.

Under Kal Tire’s new procedure, which doesn't require retorquing after 100 kilometres, customers don't have to come back to have their wheels checked.

Instead, Wiebe said, the wheels are torqued to proper specifications while on the hoist and then once again after the car is driven 10 to 20 feet. Then the brakes are applied and a second torque check is performed.

"The new procedure we have in place takes away the necessity of having to come back,” Wiebe explained.

“We torque the lug nuts on the hoist where we affix the wheel on there and then back it off. We apply the brakes firmly, put it in park and then check them again. So they have been torqued to specifications twice before they leave our sight,” he said.

Pulver says his insurance company has written off his car and he'll have to buy another one. He still feels the tire shop he used should compensate him for the loose wheel.

Using a torque wrench is important because if the lug nuts are not tight enough they can come loose while driving, but also if they're too tight, they can strip or damage the bolt threads and the rotors.       

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