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Old 10th June 2012, 10:25   #1
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Default Falling hubcaps: Potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

I use a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 for my daily office commute from Jayanagar to ITPL. Those of you in Bangalore would be familiar with the road from HAL to Domlur flyover along old airport road. There is a slight curved stretch near old airport gates leading to total mall signal. This past friday, I was returning from office at around 5.30pm on this stretch. I was chugging along at a usual, relaxed pace of 40-45 kmph with a few vehicles in front of me. There were a few office cabs, and some more cars and 2 wheelers.

An Innova cab around 15-20 metres away was travelling at a slightly relaxed pace of 25-30kmph on the centre lane and I was approaching him for overtaking. At this 15-20 metre distance, a remarkable thing happened. One of his rear wheel hubcaps fell out of the wheel suddenly!

This hubcap fell directly in my path, and my front wheel got stuck on the hubcap. All this happened in a second, so there was hardly any reaction time. In other words, the hubcap got sandwiched between my front tyre and the ground. Due to this, I lost traction and front brakes obviously stopped working too! The bike being enormous and heavy was just sliding ahead on the hubcap! Fortunately, I was at a slow speed and managed to jam the rear brakes and bring it to a stop, but only after quite a good distance of sliding.

Although I managed to avoid a fall, this thing caused a major loss in control (with the sliding) and fortunately, no vehicles were ahead of me or else I might have rear ended something due to a lack of front tyre contact with the ground.

Question is, how do we handle such incidents of falling hubcaps? Personally, after experiencing this, I am a bit wary of hubcap-equipped vehicles now. These things are potential deathtraps when they fall out, and although what happened to me was rare, such an incident on a highway might prove to be more dangerous to following traffic. Many vehicles have loosely secured hubcaps just staying in place with 2-3 plastic clips, which can give way anytime. Perhaps the hubcap manufacturers need to consider following some prescribed standards of how these things are secured to the wheels.
Any thoughts as to how we can prevent such incidents, or should we go to Avishek Goenka way and file a PIL against using these flimsy hubcaps? On a lighter note, if owners fancy looks, let them get alloys, else they can live with the steel rims.

@mods : I searched for a relevant thread but couldn't find any. If there is any thread appropriate where this should be merged, please do so.

Last edited by KarthikK : 10th June 2012 at 10:48.
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Old 10th June 2012, 11:14   #2
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

Thank god that you got away from that potential fatal incident with no injuries to yourself and your bike. Things could've been worse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarthikK View Post
Question is, how do we handle such incidents of falling hubcaps? Personally, after experiencing this, I am a bit wary of hubcap-equipped vehicles now. These things are potential deathtraps when they fall out, and although what happened to me was rare, such an incident on a highway might prove to be more dangerous to following traffic. Many vehicles have loosely secured hubcaps just staying in place with 2-3 plastic clips, which can give way anytime. Perhaps the hubcap manufacturers need to consider following some prescribed standards of how these things are secured to the wheels.
Any thoughts as to how we can prevent such incidents, or should we go to Avishek Goenka way and file a PIL against using these flimsy hubcaps? On a lighter note, if owners fancy looks, let them get alloys, else they can live with the steel rims.
Yes most of the wheel trims are secured with plastic tabs with steel spring clip and they can fall out if one of the tabs break. It can happen to old wheel trims which was removed and re-inserted multiple times or if the wheel hit a bump at high speed which can pop off the wheel trim. A piece of plastic weighing less than a kilo but travelling at highspeeds can cause serious damage to other road users.

To prevent a plastic wheel trim from flying off use a tie wrap to secure the hubcap to the rim. Have seen many taxi innovas and qualises with this tie wrapped wheel caps. When i bought a set of aftermarket wheel trims for the family qualis i secured it with two tie wraps on each wheel.

Aftermarket wheel trims of the clip type never sit secured on the wheels. So those who are using the same should secure it with tie wraps.

In the Hyundai i10 the wheel trims are not secured by tabs and steel clips, but instead the wheel trim is held in place by the wheel nuts. This is a good design by Hyundai and these wheel trims are never going to pop out. I think Hyundai might be using the same design wheel trims on other models in their line up.
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Old 10th June 2012, 11:40   #3
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarthikK View Post
...
Question is, how do we handle such incidents of falling hubcaps? Personally, after experiencing this, I am a bit wary of hubcap-equipped vehicles now. These things are potential deathtraps when they fall out, and although what happened to me was rare, such an incident on a highway might prove to be more dangerous to following traffic. Many vehicles have loosely secured hubcaps just staying in place with 2-3 plastic clips, which can give way anytime. Perhaps the hubcap manufacturers need to consider following some prescribed standards of how these things are secured to the wheels.
Any thoughts as to how we can prevent such incidents, or should we go to Avishek Goenka way and file a PIL against using these flimsy hubcaps? On a lighter note, if owners fancy looks, let them get alloys, else they can live with the steel rims. ...

What happened to you was a geat deal of bad luck with some good luck. What are the odds of a hubcap getting stuck the way it did on you bike?

It is a nuisance for everyone but more hazardous for 2-wheelers than anyone else. Still the occurance is fairly rare. I mean think about stones flying out of truck/bus tyres on broken roads - that is much more dangerous than what happened to you and quite common in fact.
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Old 10th June 2012, 12:17   #4
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

A couple of days ago, I realised that I had lost one of my wheelcaps. And the first thing that came to my mind - "I hope it did not hit a biker". I had no way of finding out, but could only pray.

I guess its one of the bike driving hazards where you just hope that you stay lucky !
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Old 10th June 2012, 12:27   #5
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

It's a very rare occurrence, Karthikk. I think bikers face bigger, more frequent "driving environment" risks on the road.

I personally think wheel cap/hub cap on steel wheels look ugly and for that reason alone, they ought to be banned!
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Old 10th June 2012, 15:40   #6
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

wow thats quite a heart in the mouth experience! You are lucky the cap didnt crack and get lodged between the wheel and fender cause that would have been disastrous!!!

Ive seen hub caps going flying off in front of me but they used to just roll off to one side of the road and fall there. My greatest worry is those smart-a$$es that keep their helmets dangling on the top of their heads!! A helmet on the road is sometimes enough to even flip a car!!

Cheers!
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Old 10th June 2012, 15:59   #7
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

@Karthik - Thank God you are safe and there was nothing serious. I agree it is a potential danger but would be a rare occurance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sankar View Post
To prevent a plastic wheel trim from flying off use a tie wrap to secure the hubcap to the rim. Have seen many taxi innovas and qualises with this tie wrapped wheel caps. When i bought a set of aftermarket wheel trims for the family qualis i secured it with two tie wraps on each wheel.

@Sankar - This tie wrap seems to be useful and my car i guess needs it. Can you post a couple of snaps of how it has been done in your car?
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Old 10th June 2012, 16:06   #8
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

That was a close shave. My Bolero's wheel cover flew out while taking a turn and was inches from hitting a cyclist. I removed the rest from the vehicle and I too am of the opinion that they are hazardous for pedestrians and cyclists/motorcyclists. The wheel covers should be designed to be fitted with the bolts for the wheels and not just some metal/plastic clip.
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Old 10th June 2012, 17:00   #9
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
@Sankar - This tie wrap seems to be useful and my car i guess needs it. Can you post a couple of snaps of how it has been done in your car?
Amit, the Qualis sits at my maternal home some some 180Kms away. However this is how it was done -
Falling hubcaps: Potential deathtraps for the following traffic?-wheeltrimtie.jpg
- but i used only two ties per wheel. The ties were bought from the same shop which sold the wheel trims. Last time i saw the qualis the wheel trims were intact.


Edit: Got the pic from the internet.
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Old 10th June 2012, 17:57   #10
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarthikK View Post
Although I managed to avoid a fall, this thing caused a major loss in control (with the sliding) and fortunately, no vehicles were ahead of me or else I might have rear ended something due to a lack of front tyre contact with the ground.
I think you were really unlucky and very lucky to come out unscathed. But the threat is real. More so to the unaware pedestrian. Even I had a wheel cover fall off from my car (don't know where or how) and that got me thinking what if it hits someone at speed (pedestrian, biker, car). But in our country, are people concerned about this? I once saw a truck on Meerut bypass, skidding on 3 wheels. The rear axle was broken off and the fallen wheels along with the long axle rod were running of onto the way of other vehicles. Fortunately the speed was slow and it was a 4 lane highway with a central divider (i.e. no oncoming traffic) and traffic was thin, so no danger to anyone.

In developed countries, for a thing like that, you could have sued the pants off the offending vehicle.
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Old 11th June 2012, 05:18   #11
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

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In developed countries, for a thing like that, you could have sued the pants off the offending vehicle.
This could happen anywhere, even in Developed countries. Check this out "Runaway tire checks into hotel room". Report by CNN's Jeanne Moos
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Old 11th June 2012, 17:52   #12
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: Potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

Hubcabs are nothing when compared to stuff that fall from two wheelers. I have seen bike and scooter riders drop stuff like helmets, buckets, even poultry animals on the road Everything is possible on our roads.
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Old 11th June 2012, 18:00   #13
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: Potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

In my old neighbour hood, one guy with a Qualis was complaining about how hub caps were getting stolen. Then he shows the Santros parked nearby and says, "everyone's hub caps get stolen here except from those cars"! implying that gentleman is somehow involved with the thieves

I think they need to ban the hub cap makers or make them to create those that can be secured along with the lug nuts.

Even in U.S, you can find hub caps strewn on highways, so nothing specific to our country.

Last edited by srishiva : 11th June 2012 at 18:01.
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Old 11th June 2012, 18:16   #14
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: Potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

I have once seen a moving truck (tractor trailer) whose tyre burst and the tyre debris was thrown high towards the rear side, almost 100ft distance. This was on NJ turnpike, and I was on the parallel road. This is the section where cars and trucks have different roads.

There was nothing behind the truck at that moment, so there were no casualties.
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Old 11th June 2012, 20:06   #15
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Default Re: Falling hubcaps: Potential deathtraps for the following traffic?

Using those Cable ties is the best way to prevent the caps from falling out.
It will be a simple way to prevent theft too.

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I have once seen a moving truck (tractor trailer) whose tyre burst and the tyre debris was thrown high towards the rear side, almost 100ft distance. This was on NJ turnpike, and I was on the parallel road. This is the section where cars and trucks have different roads.

There was nothing behind the truck at that moment, so there were no casualties.

IIRC, Same type of incident happened some years ago in Mangalore - Udupi Highway. Sadly a by-stander lost his life.
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