Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lug Nuts and Jesus Bolts

I apologize in advance for yet another car post.

Two week ago, my Mazda was making terrible noises each time I hit the brakes. It sounded like it was time for new brakes and rotors. I stopped by a national chain and had my brakes checked. I did not need rotors but I did need new calipers. The brakes on my car had frozen. The mechanic warned me not to drive because it was not safe. I left my car sit in the shop to wait for the parts to arrive. The following day the car was repaired.

For three days, my car ran perfectly. Then the noise started. The front drive side wheel would be silent when driving on the highway but noisy when driving slowly. The noise was mild at first but then became a horrible sound. It was as if I was driving over rumble strips. My husband suggested taking the wheel off and checking to see if there was anything visually loose. I watched as he used a jack to raise the car. He sat in front of the wheel to remove the lug nuts.

Two of the lug nuts were extremely loose. He tightened the lug nuts and the noise disappeared.

I stopped by the garage and told the Customer Service Representative my story. I mentioned that two lug nuts were not tight. The CSR became very defensive and suggested that “someone” may have loosened the lug nuts on purpose. Seriously! He did not even mention that I should bring my car back in so they could check out the wheel.

Later that day, I drove to my Uncle’s surprise 70th birthday party. On the way to the picnic grove, the noise resumed and was louder than ever. I pulled into the parking lot and asked my brother to look at the wheel. I touched the lug nuts and two came off in my hand. We found the lug wrench in my trunk and tightened the wheel. I drove slowly and carefully home. I called the national chain and spoke to the manager. The manager told me that what I was describing was highly unusual. (Is this the code phrase for "I don't believe you?") He told me to bring my car in as soon as possible.

I have a new appreciation for the tiny pieces of metal that keep my tire connected to my car. In the world of helicopters, the fastener that holds the rotor blade is sometimes referred to as the "Jesus Bolt" because the operator must have faith in it. In the past, I have never given lug nuts much…o.k. any…thought. I am starting to consider lug nuts the "Jesus Bolt" of the automobile. The CSR stated the obvious in our initial conversation “three wheels is not good”.

My car is in the shop today. I am waiting for a phone call to find out what highly unusual problem is wrong with my car.


I should be posting on a regular basis soon. I am caught up on my reading but have not had much time to post or comment. The last five weeks have been busy with my daughter’s play rehearsals.

Thank you for the excellent comments on my previous post. More to come on the topic of self-defense.


Meg said...

That "highly unusual" noise/issue with your car is another way of saying, "we don't have a CLUE why your car is making noise and we don't want to take the blame for it!"
I hope they figure out the source of the noise and the mysteriously loosening lug nuts!

Michele said...

You are so right!

My car is fixed but they did not actually tell me what was wrong. The CSR kept telling me that everything was "being taken care of". I reviewed the bill and it said "no charge car damage".

I think they stripped the lug nuts/studs. They will never admit it!