We’ve heard quite a few people laugh about seeing a runaway wheel rolling down a road, whether it’s after an accident or just one that comes off a vehicle suddenly. We’ve seen serious accidents when these wheels collide with cars, buildings, or people, including many that are fatal.

Watch a reality TV star crash his Ferrari F430.

Perhaps the most potent example comes out of California. The front driver-side wheel came off the axle, rolled right in front of a Kia Soul, and sent the little crossover flying into the air like something out of a cartoon.

People were amazed a wheel could do such a thing, but we’ve seen them peel the roof off a car, rip through the safety glass on windshields like it’s paper, act like a wrecking ball on buildings, and bowl over pedestrians violently.

Wheels can come off vehicles for several reasons. One common problem is that people don’t tighten the lug nuts enough. You can guard against that by torquing to the manufacturer’s spec, which might sound like a little much. Other people just tighten the lug nuts as much as they can, hoping it’s enough.

Other issues can lead to a runaway wheel, like a crash which breaks the tire free, improper maintenance leading to wheel separation, and people transporting unsecured spare tires mounted on a wheel in the bed of a truck or int a trailer – that’s why tying it down with a ratchet strap if not using the factory mounting point for the spare is a good idea.

If your wheel comes off because you’re negligent and causes serious damage, hurts someone, or leads to a fatality, you might be held liable for that. So, get out that torque wrench, don’t neglect maintenance/repairs on your vehicle, and if you do see a runaway wheel treat it with extreme caution.

Image via KTLA 5/YouTube

Follow The Auto Wire on Google News.