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Friday, I was traveling home with my two year and we had been gone all day. We got off a ramp onto the interstate and made it about half a mile before I switched lanes to pass a trailer in tow and I heard my back windshield shatter and my 2019 Tahoe Z71 dropped and I lost control and had a hard time steering and realized I had lost a tire and saw it jump the median into oncoming back. I was going maybe 45 mph when this occurred. ( first picture is off where the tire came off and the back right tire was bent inward towards the inside of the car) (second picture is where the tire came off and somehow hitting the lift gate and shattering the back window before running over the median.) This car has been in the shop twice for a stabilitrak problem and 4 weeks ago I had a flat on the tire that came off and I got it fixed and never had a problem or I thought other than the tire monitoring systems reverse reading after the tire got fixed. The Chevrolet dealership is trying to tell me a wallowed out single lug nut caused this accident and my insurance company is wanting to investigate what caused the accident because they said they had been getting other calls of this problem happening to others. The dealership then tried to start replacing parts without the approval from the insurance company and was got very hostile. I do not believe that a wallowed out lug nut caused this accident. But I am not a mechanic and I am in the process of getting my car towed to a non affiliated Chevrolet body shop to get a second opinion. I have tried to add pictures of the damage. Is there anything else other than a loose/wallowed out lug nut that could have caused this accident?

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  • Welcome to the site @SarahPilgrim. It sounds like you've had a tough time, it's not completely clear what your question is. If you are asking whether a single bad lug nut can cause a wheel to come off then that's already been answered in this question: mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/57574/… – GdD Nov 12 '20 at 8:16
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    Does this answer your question? What can cause a wheel to fall off/hub to break? – GdD Nov 12 '20 at 8:16
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    There are no pictures attached. What is "wallowed out"? – jwh20 Nov 12 '20 at 13:17
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    The lug nuts were loose. When loose the small movement causes the "wallowing". Looseness can also cause the studs to fail by fatigue ; Fatigue fracture will be mostly smooth and flat . A close photo of wheel studs would show fatigue . I nearly had the same accident . Miraculously , I found the broken studs before the wheel came off ( my fault). – blacksmith37 Nov 12 '20 at 15:16
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    For what good it can do you ; whoever fixed your flat ,left the nuts loose . In the 4 weeks the wallowing has been occurring but more importantly ,fatigue cracks have been growing in the studs. In my case , I drove 1000 miles before I found the damage , when I looked at the right front wheel , there were nothing but empty holed, no nuts, no studs. Yes, I know it is hard to believe. – blacksmith37 Nov 12 '20 at 16:21
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To specifically answer your questions: yes, there could be other factors that could have caused the wheel to come off like this. Judging by what I can see the in the picture the brake rotor is still there, and likely the studs are also still present.

Two most likely reason why the wheel came off are related to how the lug nuts were installed, so:

  • Lug nuts were not tightened and/or torqued
  • Lug nuts were not re-torqued within 30 - 50 mile distance after the lug nuts were reinstalled for any reason.

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