Left stranded! Cautionary tale to drivers to check your nuts!
I've just returned home (carless!) with a fairly unhappy clan after getting a flat tyre and falling foul of the dreaded 'ridiculously over tightened locking wheel nut' problem. I'll take the hit for not being aware the wheel nuts have all been fitted by Thor but I've only had the car, a Ford Fusion on an '06, for a few months although I know someone will say I should have checked.
But what irks me a little is that I've gone from flat tyre to being stranded in the middle of nowhere and a taxi and two train journeys home with the wife and my girls aged 7 and 11 despite having Comprehensive RAC breakdown cover.
Here is what happened; I notice a problem and pull in to discover the flat but then managed to crack the locking nut a little due to the uber tightness. The rest of the wheel nuts were starting to splay the head of the socket spanner before I admitted defeat and called the RAC. They were out very promptly and with the proper extended spanner the standard wheel nuts loosened but the locking nut key disintegrated.
I was left with the choice of an 'expensive' tow back home or a temporary plug that would get the car to a local RAC approved garage. Hearing the word expensive left me option 2 but being a Saturday morning nobody is able to drill out the locking nuts (which is what I'm told is required) until Monday. Now while I'm thinking 'how the hell am I going to get my family home? what am I going to do without the car? How am I going to get back here? Never mind how much it will cost, all I see is the garage manager and the RAC guy looking at me incredulously when I say I'm going to try and phone around for another garage to maybe do it today. Needless to say that was unsuccessful.
So I've finally arrived home from a journey that I can only say was emotional and after a few quick searches I've discovered this is not uncommon and there some products e.g. dynomec that can sort this out and even that the AA carry these with them.
Like I said, my main aim is for people to check their wheel nuts particularly the locking variety. But I'm just a bit curious about a few other thing:
1. Why don't the RAC carry these kits for such a common problem? I'm guessing that it boils down to being the drivers responsibility but that's no reason not to help the thousands of people who suffer from inept wheel fitters.
2. How come the RAC guy kept saying it would be 'expensive' to tow me home. He didn't discount it as an option but kept saying it would be 'expensive'. Without a garage open to do the job he might as well have left the car in the countryside until Monday really so his obligation to get me to a garage seems pretty pointless.
3. Drilling out the locking nut? This is the bit that's worrying me. I am sure the RAC rep and the manager of the garage have many years of experience but seems strange they are unaware of some of the options it took me 5 minutes to research. I'd like to know if I should leave the car there at the mercy of the 'RAC approved' garage on Monday or seek out an alternative.
Any thoughts would be welcome and much appreciated.
Last edited by dazyg2000; 22-02-14 at 22:22.
I had a similar problem with a locking nut not that long ago. The RAC attended in a reasonable time and used whatever he used to remove the nut and changed the wheel. This is in east Yorkshire. Don't know why that couldn't have been done for you. Totally agree about tightness of wheel nuts : I gave up ever trying to change a tyre a while ago : I'd rather wait than wreck myself ! Incidentally don't think I've heard of many, if any, people who check tightness of wheel nuts.
Thanks for that, just what I was hoping for really, this problem and more importantly the solution are quite well known.
I think I'll see what the garage quotes me in the morning and what their solution is but I think I'll try and see if there are any mobile locking nut removal businesses in the Staffordshire area today just in case.
I will look into this and come back to you.
For some years now, I always watch the fitter when having a wheel changed. I expect to see a torque wrench used when he re-fits the wheel.
My daughter had a similar problem, although she wasn't stranded fortunately, she just went in to get a worn tyre replaced. It cost me over £100 in the end, plus the new tyre. She works in an HGV garage and a month earlier a 'helpful' mechanic had changed the brake pads for her. That was a false economy...
I know what you mean Santa. I bought the car off a mate recently for a good price so I can hardly go back there ranting. The good news is I'm going back up there today and the garage have quoted me £97 + VAT for removing the wheel nuts, sourcing and fitting new standard ones and fitting a tyre so no complaints there. Still unsure about being left stranded by RAC though. I think I need to check what kind of cover companies do more carefully. With a young family I really need some way of getting us all home safely in the event of a breakdown.
We have seen the locking nut problem on the board before. As far as I can remember, it was probably down to the luck of the draw as to whether the patrol would be able to remove it or not.
From your description, I guess that you don't have relay cover. If you had, they would have been able to take you, your car and your family home at no extra cost. If you do have it, then I guess that compensation and an apologetic bunch of flowers will be winging their way to you as I type. (Probably on one of those flying pigs)
Just to give a final update on this, I travelled back to Staffordshire to get the car home today after the garage removed all the locking wheel nuts for me, replaced them with new and fitted a decent tyre all for the £97 which included VAT. Really happy with the service and price I received from them.
I also got a call from RAC customer services this afternoon and they were very interested in hearing about the situation. I found out that having comprehensive RAC breakdown cover does indeed cover onward transit (hire car) but that was not offered. I also found out that the RAC do carry equipment to remedy this fault but I was told it wasn't attempted for fear of damage and the engineer felt it wouldn't work. Being stranded at the time I would have liked to have seen that tried. But I really was impressed with how much the RAC were concerned that I might not have had the service that might be expected from a brand as big as theirs. It was just so good to hear someone working hard to help a paying customer.
It seems that in this situation there is a bit of a grey area between the over tight locking nuts being an actual fault and the driver being responsible for them not being in such a state. Unfortunately for our family on Saturday the RAC technician seemed to make a judgement that it was the latter and offered us an expensive tow home or a long trek home without the car. Maybe he's seen one too many over tightened locking nuts or he's never had young children but I felt like I deserved a better service and to their credit so do the customer service of the RAC. Very well done to you and thanks all for your interest!
I check my nuts every day.
Thank you dayzyg for letting us know. We are often left in the dark about the outcome of poster's problems.
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