Home » Have You Ever Had Parts Fall Off Of A Vehicle While Driving?

Have You Ever Had Parts Fall Off Of A Vehicle While Driving?

Parts Fell Off Aa Ts
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“Simply, then add lightness” was the philosophy of legendary Lotus founder Colin Chapman, but it’s rather unnerving when your vehicle decides to simplify and add lightness while you’re underway. [Ed note: if you only click one link today, that’s the one.] While parts aren’t supposed to fall off of vehicles while driving, if you happen to be piloting an abominable shitbox, it can happen.

I haven’t always owned good examples of vehicles, so I’ve lost several things while underway. A section of exhaust piping on my Ford Crown Victoria made a horrendous clunk as I ran over it, the undertray on my G35 was largely silent as it parted company with the rest of the car, and an indicator lens on the Crown Victoria barely made a whisper as the ancient sealant gave up on life, allowing the polycarbonate to be taken by the breeze. Believe it or not, I’ve had a part fall off of a brand-new vehicle while driving too. Many years ago, I was driving a GMC Acadia press car over some freeway expansion joints when one of the rear HVAC vents fell out of the ceiling.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Hyundai Accent

The most puzzling case of parts-shedding I’ve encountered didn’t happen to me, but I’ll never forget witnessing it. Pulled over on the oncoming side of the road was a second-generation Hyundai Accent, and several meters behind the car, its fuel tank was resting in the road. Given the tenacity of filler necks and lines, one can only imagine how the hell the driver managed to do that.

So, have you ever had parts fall off of a vehicle while driving, and if so, what were they? How spectacular or stealthy was the departure? As ever, we’d love to hear your experiences with spontaneous lightweighting in the comments below. We can commiserate, because many of us have been there before.

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(Photo credits: Hyundai)

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Steve Lee
Steve Lee
1 month ago

I learned to drive stick in a co-worker’s unregistered Geo Metro. Of course, we also did this in Martha Stewart’s fancy-pants town of Westport, CT. And of course, during one of these lessons, the muffler decided to make a break for freedom and we ended up dragging it around on the ground. Had to pull over and reverse over it to get it to fully detach from the car. And then we were just in an obnoxiously loud unregistered car in a fancy-pants town. We quickly (but not too quickly) drove back to my friend’s house to avoid issues.

AceRimmer
AceRimmer
1 month ago

A wheel and tire. My first car, had just put my summer set on for the season. Had some vibration when coming to a stop. Asked my dad, he went around, pushed pulled everything, looked at suspension. All OK but we decided to go to the mechanic anyway. On the way there (15 miles, including freeway!), the vibration got so bad and then POP! Off goes the wheel w/ the brake rotor crashing down on it. Just 1 block from the mechanic. So what happened? We didn’t retorque the damn lugnuts! They were new wheels. An expensive, scary lesson we’re both glad it was in a 25 and not 75 on the freeway.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
1 month ago

The rear bumper fell off of my ’93 244. Thankfully, it was a block from where I lived, rather than on the highway on which I’d just been.

Other than that, the ’97 Mystique my family used to own and my blueberry have both had their splash shields fall down, but not entirely off.

Vc-10
Vc-10
1 month ago

Not me, but my mother. In a then relatively new (as in still under warranty) Peugeot 807 minivan.

It was one of the pulley wheels for the accessory drive belt. Not sure if it was a tensioner wheel, a drive wheel, or what, as I was only about 14 at the time and also wasn’t there, but this reasonably chunky metal pulley wheel just fell off the car mid-roundabout. And with it went the hydraulics for the power steering and the brakes.

That was just one of a number of failures on that car. Definitely a lemon (which would be funnier if my parents had bought the sister car to the 807, the Citroen C8)

Walmart Shoes
Walmart Shoes
1 month ago

I heard some bits fall off my 1955 Cadillac while I was cruising around. Very unnerving.
Stopped and went back to search and found a few pieces of the sway bar linkage on the side of the road.
Thankfully it was nothing major. She still drove fine, and the replacement parts were under $50 from a specialist vintage Cadillac parts supplier.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
1 month ago

A friend left the stock wheel lock key on my 99 Miata and we lost it on the test drive. Never did find it. The local Mazda dealer was very nice though and used their key to remove the locking lugs and replaced them all with standard ones for free.

In my 04 Mach 1 I had the metal cover that goes over the clutch fork fall off one day and likewise I never could find it. A new one was $65 for essentially a stamped piece of scrap metal.

I also had my radio pop out of the dash and the coolant cap on my overflow fly off after a Jetta rear-ended me once. They didn’t buy me dinner but did have to replace my differential since the arm broke(by design).

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
1 month ago

In the fall of 1981, I and my survey crew were buzzing down the autobahn between our work site and our home station in Neu Ulm Germany, We were in a 3 vehicle convoy of Dodge M880’s series trucks with many many more miles on them than the average 880 in the motorpool. This meant that they had gone through a lot of maintnenace.

Anyhow, on a quarterleaf intersection just outside Stuttgart, I was in the trail position when the truck in the middle position began wobbling a bit side to side. It was a cyclical motion that was getting wider and wider, when suddenly the left rear wheel began to edge out from the fender. This gap got progressively wider until, amazingly the entire wheel/axle assembly was standing clear by at least four feet. This ended when then entire thing came free allowing the axle housing to drop the pavement, where it gave off a brilliant display of sparks. The tire/wheel/axle assembly went airborne in a wild gyrating flight path just inches above the autobahn traffic until it ended up stuck straight up in the median just like a giant lolli-pop!

To this day I don’t know what the upper/mid-level maintenance people did or didn’t do but the entire incident was treated as a hush-up and not spoken of again other than by those of us who watched it happen.

Last edited 1 month ago by Opa Carriker
Leicestershire
Leicestershire
1 month ago

Was given permission to publish this spontaneous disassembly anecdote after it was transmitted to me (air gapped) through duly secure one-time pad cypher, to maintain the originator’s mission security:


Pulling away from a stop light in my then 20+ year old ’73 Galaxie, I experienced a sudden banging about coming from the floor pan. Backing off the throttle, the banging disappeared, but when I put my foot down again, so had any semblance of acceleration. This was because my driveshaft had left the chat, which I realized when I looked in the rearview mirror, as I coasted to a stop.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
1 month ago

Long about 1973 my wife and I were crusing up the interstate between San Diego and LA in my ’62 Triumph TR3B doing about 75 when suddenly and without warning the entire hood flew up, blocking all view to the front. This only lasted a few seconds before the pot metal hinges gave up the ghost, breaking off and allowing the hood to skitter down the pavement (naturally paint side down) where a nice CHiP retrieved it.

We both were knocked semi-silly, but otherwise unhurt. Bungee’d the hood over to trunk area and continued to our visit with family. I was a poor Marine Corp Corporal so money was very tight as a result the lovely pot metal hinges were replaced by hardware store hinges and self tapping metal screws.

With perfect 20/20 hindsight, I realized that the two dzu fasteners were not reliable and best supplemented by little leather straps and buckles which were much more practical than binder’s twine looped through the dzuopenings. (ebay.com/itm/144036602510)

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago

The hubcaps on my parents’ 1964 Galaxie 500 were constantly coming off; I remember plenty of rides that ended with us circling back to locate an errant hubcap. By the time I was able to drive it, Dad had gotten a set of cheap rims, so we didn’t have that problem anymore.

As far as my own driving experience, I accidentally left my good roll of duct tape on top of my Jeep; remarkably, it stayed up there until I accelerated onto the interstate. The resulting ‘clunk’ as it hit the side of the Jeep on the way down scared the hell out of me.

Last edited 1 month ago by PlatinumZJ
Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
1 month ago

It was the spring/summer of 1974. I owned a fairly nice ’55 Chevy with the stovebolt six and three on the tree. I found that if I really wound it out in 2nd gear I could win a few stop light grand prix. This resulted in several R&R’s of the 2nd gear cluster, which in turn meant precious summer hours spent under the Chevy.

On the final rebuild, I inadvertently knocked off one of the bearing caps on the front u-joint. In preparation to putting the u-joint together I found I was missing two of the roller pin bearings. After consideration, I decided that this couldn’t be too big a deal, so I used extra grease and put it back together.

The rest of the reassembly went without issue and I was soon back on the road. I noticed an odd growl from “growl” from somewhere underneath the car. It was a rotary noise that increased in intensity with speed. Anyhoo, as I rolled down highway 74 at a sedate 60 mph or so, the noise and vibration reached a crescendo followed by a loud bang and the disconcerting experience of the entire rear of the car vaulting a good 6 feet off the pavement followed by cessation of all forward momentum and absolute silence.

Yes, the U-joint had given up the ghost, let go allowing the drive shaft to drop and gouge into the warm summer asphalt with the above described mayhem. So yes, I could say I’ve had a part fall off my car while in motion.

Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

I lost the a-pillar trim piece off my ’03 Mini Cooper S in high winds, but it was already a bit loose.

But while I’m here:

You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me Loose Wheel

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
1 month ago

The driver’s rear wheel fell off my smart fortwo two weeks after I bought it. I’d just had the summer tires swapped to aftermarket rims and the shop forgot to torque the bolts. I pulled onto the freeway, immediate CLUNKCLUNKCLUNK, and made it off the next offramp, where my car’s ass was unceremoniously dumped onto the ground.

I should have lawyered up and gone after them but I was young, and the shop *did* cover the cost of basically an entirely new rear end. I think the transmission was invisibly damaged, though, because it gave me nothing but trouble ever after.

BoneBrothOutback
BoneBrothOutback
1 month ago

Missed a turn, pulled a hard U-ey in my 2008 Escape and ran something over. Got out and picked up a very flaky and frangible piece of what looked like an old garden T-post. Looked at the tires, everything seemed ok. A week later I was under the car looking at something else and realized that it had been one of my gas tank brackets. Touched the other one and put a hole in it with my finger that would have made David smile.

Wired it up with speaker wire and drove the car for another 3 years.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
1 month ago

Lost the harmonic balancer on an 84 Chevette one morning at 70 mph. That car was done…
Lost the driver’s side, rear window of my dad’s Pinto wagon one time as he was pulling into the highway. It just swung open, and then kept going. It got him to finally get rid of that thing though.

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
1 month ago

Was driving my 31 Austin Seven and heard a loud clonking sound and lost power. The fabric coupling to the driveshaft let go. Luckily found a leather store nearby and was able to make a replacement out of some old leather machine belting, worked well enough to get me home.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

When I took possession of my 6-y-o Plymouth Horizon, the exhaust fell off.

Inthemikelane
Inthemikelane
1 month ago

Drove a Volvo F12 (I think) satellite truck cross country a few times, but the first time going over the continental divide, they told me to be careful of the back pressure (and the un-burned fuel) inside the exhaust pipes when punching it and then letting off.

Couldn’t help myself, I had to see what happens. End of the exhaust pipe (which ran up the sides of the cab), and its rain flap at the top, blew up, removing the flap and flaring out the end of the exhaust. Made one hell of a gunshot sound. Didn’t get canned, but would do it again.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

As a passenger in an early 70’s textbook shitbox Datsun 1200 at 75 MPH I watched the front passenger side fender separate from the body and ever so gracefully flow up over the hood and sail over the car thanks to a “sunroof” my friend had sawzalled in the roof.

Jimmy7
Jimmy7
1 month ago

Motor mounts rusted through on my VW Van, the engine hit the sidewalk as I was going up a driveway pulling into a gas station. It was still connected to the tranaxle and the throttle cable, so I guess it only fell half out.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

It didn’t fall off, but the hood on my 84 Jetta (when I had it) flew up against the windshield (but didn’t break it) when I was on the freeway…it startled me but didn’t surprise me since it was a shitbox (but fun to drive)…I just stopped and hooked rope to it then went home

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Freelivin1327

Back in ’96 I took my first metro into a dealership because the trans lost 3rd gear. Days later they still hadn’t looked at it but I needed a ride to get my lizard some food. Promising to bring it back I took off down the highway only to have the hood fly up and scare the crap out of me. Limped the car back to the dealership and told them I got more problems with the car. Later they called and said there was a recall on the hood latch so they replaced the hood, windshield, and fixed the dent on the roof for free!

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago
Reply to  Geo Metro Mike

Whoa, nice! I was sure you were gonna say they popped the hood but didn’t open it (although you would have probably noticed it)
Glad they made it right!

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Freelivin1327

They didn’t charge that much for the transmission issue either. Unfortunately luck ran out about a year later when a deer decided to take a stroll at night and it was bungee cords ever since.

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