There I was, minding my own business as I drove the Pretty Pine Road, when I felt a jolt and then saw the wheel off my camper overtake me as it scooted across a paddock. I pulled up as quickly as I could without applying the brakes — the camper dragging behind me helped. On exiting the car, I watched as the tyre kept rolling, rolling, rolling until it finally ran out of momentum and fell on its side.
Damage to the camper appeared to be minimal, nothing I couldn’t fix with a hammer. I felt calm as I wandered through the saltbush in search of the runaway wheel. I finally stumbled across it before starting to roll it all the back to the road. I was able to determine in my own mind what had happened. Having taken the wheels off to coat the underside with Raptor coating and regreased the bearings, I’d screwed the wheel nuts back on while the camper was still on axle stands. I did recall tightening the driver side wheel nuts with the breaker bar, but somehow forgot to do the same on the passenger side. Having driven 300km, the wheel nuts must have gradually worked themselves loose until they’d all let go.
Then I remembered that the wheel nuts on the camper were different to the ones on the Prado. I knew I had some spare ones somewhere, but I wasn’t sure if they were for the camper or the Prado. Sadly, when I did eventually find them, the nuts were for the Prado. My solution was to remove one wheel nut from the driver side and four-wheel nuts from the spare tyre that hangs on a spare hub on the front of the camper, so that I would have five-wheel nuts on the reinstalled passenger tyre.
Taking it easy, I drove to Swan Hill to see if I could find more wheel nuts at one of the auto stores. Autobarn were a great help, working out what type of wheel nut it was before ringing around to see if anyone had any. We hit paydirt with Bursons in Mildura having three in stock. I limped into Mildura as the sun began to set and checked into a motel, as Bursons were closed. Next morning, I purchased the three wheel nuts in stock before heading to Bursons in Berri who had plenty more. Finally, all the wheel nuts had been replaced and I even had a couple spare.
As I continued on my travels I got in touch with NutWare, a small family business located on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, and they mailed out a set for my camper and a set for my Prado. They too had experienced wheel loss and bearing collapse while travelling and after coming across some of the yellow Loose Wheel Nut Indicators, often found on mining vehicles, they eventually found some Australian made ones, but wanted different colours. They took a chance and now have their own range of colours made by a company in Melbourne.
The idea behind the Loose Wheel Nut Indicators is that once you’ve installed the indicators firmly over each wheel nut in a uniform pattern of your own making, you can visually monitor them.
- If the pattern changes, you have a loose wheel nut.
- If an indicator is missing, you’ve lost a wheel nut.
- If the indicator discolours, something is overheating, so check your bearings.
These indicators are a proactive bit of kit that warns you that something is wrong before it happens. They were easy to install, too. A gentle tap with a rubber mallet does help and getting them off just takes some finger strength as you wiggle them loose. Gloves do help. NutWare supply indicators to fit most 4WD’s, camper trailers, caravans, boat trailers, box traders and horse floats, with the website providing instructions on how to measure the size of your wheel nuts. When it comes to colour choices for the indicators you have black, green, military green, yellow and orange.
I’ve been travelling with black indicators on the Prado wheel nuts and green on the camper trailer wheel nuts for six months and so far. Nothing has changed, so all is good. These NutWare Loose Wheel Nut Indicators are a cheap investment and something I will now always use, if only for peace of mind that I haven’t done something stupid again.
Hits and Misses
Simple to order
Easy to install (with some help from a rubber mallet for the first time)
Checking for movement/loss is a breeze
Good range of colours
If you change your rims often, the plastic may expand and then slip off easily
Pack of 15 - $49.99
Pack of 25 - $69.99
Pack of 100 - $239.99
Phone: 08 8687 2140