[Vwdiesel] HELP - WHEEL FELL OFF !!

Rolf Pechukas rbp at 4u2bu.org
Wed Nov 1 20:33:19 EST 2006

hey all
more developments with the 93 Eurovan - it's still in the shop with  
more damage now
pls excuse the lengthy email - just needed to sort this out

aslo, I'm looking for feedback:
pls tell me if my take on this is unreasonable in any way

sequence of events:

- driving slow on side road, vehicle gives sudden lurch, driver's  
side front wheel collapses and locks up, I bring to stop in 50 ft

- see that lower ball joint has given way, wheel canted at 45° angle  
and wedged into wheel well

- find local garage that will repair within 2 days (I am supplying  
major parts - all 4 ball joints, 2 axles, tie rod ends - had ordered  
these to rebuild front end, BJ failed a few days ahead of schedule)

- tow guy (from same garage) shows up w/ flatbed (I had suggested  
wrecker due to nature of the vehicle's condition - would not roll,  
wheel could not be moved - dispatcher had ignored me)

- tow guy messes around for 45 in, then goes back to get wrecker - I  
wait another 2 hrs

- shop gets van; quickly reassembles driver's side wheel - working  
outside b/c van can't be moved - so they can get it rolling and bring  
it in and up on a lift

at this point, they have replaced axle and ball joint to get it back  
they get it in shop and finish rest of front end work


according to everyone I have talked to, this is standard operating  
procedure when stubby axle has been pulled out of tranny due to ball  
joint failure - there is NO WAY that clip can survive this

in fact, several people emailed me from this group and the VW and EV  
lists and told me to MAKE SURE the clip and seal were replaced

and I called the shop before they did any work on the van, talked to  
the dispatcher, tried to relay the tips from the group, specifically  
about replacing the clip and seal
he cut me off - 'yup, all under control'
me: 'you sure? these guys know this vehicle'
him: 'we're on top of it'

so that's the second time he ignored me and screwed something up

- I get the van back; everything seems OK

- I head out for Boston the next day - @ 90 miles

after 20 miles the tranny won't stay in 5th gear - keeps popping out

I hold it in and continue

at @ 70 miles I stop for red light
when I try to start up again, nothing
no enganement of tranny

I push to side of road and look under
CV axle is pushed away from tranny again
new part, but same old injury, tranny fluid bleeding all over road

I get AAA'd back home (thanks, AAA Plus!)

- call the shop next day, let 'em know what happened
ask them if clip and seal were replaced when flange drive was  
am told the stubby axle was just 'pushed back in'


- OK
we agree that they need to reassemle the driver's side axle at their  
I undertake to locate the clip and seal they should have ordered  
themselves the first time

- I order clip and seal from dealer; 2 day wait

- clip and seal arrive (today, 11/1)
I go to shop to consult, make sure they do it right this time, etc
they tell me 'we've got other problems'

turning green, I ask what

the stubby axle has been damaged, surprise surprise
entire tip has sheared off (from retaining clip slot to end, about  
3/8" of shaft)

stubby axle needs to be replaced
we decide to order it ($135 and 4 bus days - that's another week for  
me of no wheels)
and argue about who pays for it later

the shop owner is of the opinion that the tip of the shaft sheared  
off when the ball joint failed and the CV was yanked out
certainly a possibility


pictures from sitting on the side of the road before anyone touched  
anything show stubby axle almost fully exposed and still staying  
engaged with splines
this indicates to me that there is still full-length shaft intact

here's what I think happened:

- ball joint fails
- wheel splays out, yanking axle out of tranny
- retaining clip is destroyed, but stubby axle remains intact (no  
twisting action at any point - wheel bound and not turning from the  
instant ball joint failed)
- shop reassembles w/o new clip or seal, or even examining stubby  
shaft for damage
- I drive to Boston w/ no clip, shaft working its way loose
- but drive still engaged all the way to stop at red light -  
important - no slipping, no missing (except 5th popping out)
- I think by the time I stopped at the red light, shaft must have  
worked so far loose that only the end of the stubby drive was engaged  
by the splines of the final drive
so when I tried to start in 1st from dead stop, all that torque went  
into twisting the end of that stubby axle off
probably weakened/fatigued by the axle yank and the driving half-out,  
but I don't think it sheared off until that moment starting from stop
that's the only thing that could explain why it drove fine to a stop,  
but could not get going again
(unless it somehow in that moment happened to push its way another  
1/2" out - unlikely - wheels were straight forward, no reason for the  
axle to move a lot at thered light)
no, I'm pretty sure I'm right - starting from stop after axle working  
out w/o clip is what sheared off end of stubby

anyone have any other thoughts?
how to talk to the shop guys about this?

as far as I can see, the shop is rersponsible for not following SOP -  
replace clip and seal, examine stubby axle for damage - following  
ball joint failure and axle yank
and because of that they're kind of, hate to say it, responsible for  
everything that happened after that, including:
damage to stubby, tow from Boston back home, damage to tranny caused  
by clip and/or end of stubby mangling around in there, certainly  
rebuild of driver's side axle

is there any other way to see this ??

thanks for any thoughts

Rolf in MA

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