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wheel rim explodes

grmdog1psugrmdog1psu Member Posts: 4
edited March 2014 in Jeep
I had my 93 Jeep Grand Cherokee in for routine
maintenance at 96,500 miles. I received a call
from the mechanic telling me my left front wheel
rim exploded while they were moving the car from
one area to another in the garage. He said there
was a loud bang, followed by metal flying
everywhere. The mechanic working on the car
apparently was not injured, but was very shaken up
about the whole situation.

I asked if this was a common occurrence. He
replied that he had heard of it, but had never
experienced it personally.

I know little of metallurgy. I asked all who
drive the car if they had encountered any extreme
trauma while driving that could have led to this
happening. I maintain the car religiously, and
certainly was surprised to have this happen.

What do you think? Just a coincidence, or bad
luck occurring at a rather good time.


  • floridianfloridian Member Posts: 219
    grmdog1psu: You did not mention what type of wheel was involved here. Was it a "alloy" wheel ? had the dealer done ANY work on the wheels, rotation or flat repair? I have a background in Non destructive testing (X-ray,ultra sound,dye penetrant, mag particle etc) from the aerospace industry. I have NEVER heard of such a exteme failure of a one piece wheel even on high performance aircraft. Sounds like the dealer may not be giving you the whole story. Just thank your lucky stars it did not happen on the freeway @ 70MPH. I would definately notify Jeep of this event and the Feds as well.

  • tboner1965tboner1965 Member Posts: 647
    Ask to see it of course, if it did explode the wheel should not be dented "inward". If they dropped it, the wheel would be dented outward, and probably in one place. An explosion would probably deform the whole wheel. There may be a slight dent where the vehicle rested. Of course, look at the tire too. I would imagine that the force to cause flying metal would cut up a tire pretty badly.

    One thought concerning how this might occur, have you used a "flat fixer" aerosol can to inflate any tires on your vehicle. Some of the earlier formulas used flammable propellants and chemicals. You didn't mention what type of work was being performed, so would they have been working on the wheels?

    Just some thoughts.


  • grmdog1psugrmdog1psu Member Posts: 4
    The wheels according to the window sticker were called "luxury aluminum wheels" and made no mention of being an alloy. The tires were to be rotated, but I am not aware when the so called "explosion" happened. I'll be picking up the car tomorrow and I'll try to get more specifics.
  • grmdog1psugrmdog1psu Member Posts: 4
    No prior use of aerosol flat fixer. I think of the word "explosion" as a descriptive term regarding what must have been a catatrophic failure of the wheel in the absence of any true explosive material. I have asked that the wheel be held for review. To my knowledge, the tire itself was not said to have been damaged, again suggesting metal failure as the underlying problem. Let you know more when/if I can. Thanks
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Member Posts: 647
    Perhaps the explosion was either

    a) a crack already in the aluminum wheel and when they tightened it putting it back on the vehicle it "shattered"

    b) they overtorqued the wheel putting it on the vehicle, again shattering the wheel.


  • floridianfloridian Member Posts: 219
    What tboner1965 said may very well be the case. Mechanics have been told time and time again NOT to use pneumatic tools to mount alloy or cast aluminum wheels UNLESS they use a torque limiter so as NOT to exceed factory specs. many a wheel(and brake rotors too)have been ruined by some clutz with a air tool not knowing what the heck he was doing. The fact that the tire was not damaged tells me there was NO explosion per se but a fracture of the wheel. The explosion story was most likely a coverup by the dummy that did it. in any case IF it really did "explode" then I believe the shop must inform OSHA of the incident. Bet they didn't do that.

    If I were you I would be darned sure to check the REST of my wheels to be SURE they are not ready to "explode" too.

    Nothing like having a flat in the rain and trying to get the lug nuts off with a short handled wrench that some ape screwed on at about a gillion foot pounds of torque. The urge to kill does cross your mind !!

  • dispatch1dispatch1 Member Posts: 30
    I'm no metalsmith, but never heard of aluminum exploding. I think tboner and floridian hit the nail on the head, they used a pnuematic wrench to put the bolts back on without a torque limiter,
    and the wheel shattered. Pressure in the tire probably threw some of the shattered parts, but would not necessarily damage the tire (I would have it replaced anyway).

    Just my 2¢
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    wheels may shatter (explode) from metal fatigue that resulted from over stress sometime in its past. While I cannot say this is what happened to your wheel, at 96 K miles you have most likely had more than on set of tires, and running on a low tire, overloading a tire, a flat tire at speed, not to mention abuse, could have formed the start of cracks in the metal that took weeks, months, or even years to reach failure. At the age and miles of the vehicle, the manufacturer may not be interested in finding out what happened, but I'd keep the wheel and write Jeep a letter complaining about unsafe vehicle from defective wheels,and see what they respond.

  • grmdog1psugrmdog1psu Member Posts: 4
    I have the wheel in question. It is fully intact except for an 8 to 10 inch piece of what is the inside rim which appears to have broken off. The tire was intact and not at all damaged. Sounds like oldharry may be close in terms of metal fatigue or shattering due to stress. The area that broke off is not close to the bolts, if that is important for the over-torquing idea. I am told when this piece suddenly broke off there was a very loudnoise and the piece flew out, i.e., that must have been the "explosion".
    Thanks to all for your thoughts.
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    some pickups and station wagons back in the seventies and replaced the wheels with heavier gauge steel ones. It seems radial tires and heavy loads would peel the edge flanges off wheels that had no problem with bias ply tires. There is always some new problem out there waiting for a chance to bite you.

This discussion has been closed.