The iris blue Bugeye in this photo came to us from Boise, Idaho for sorting and upgrades. I climbed-in to unload it from the enclosed trailer in front of our shop and my conversation with the driver went something like this:
Driver: “Turn the wheel to the right”
Me: It’s all the way to the right.
Driver: No it’s not.
Me: the wheel is hard over
Driver Then how come this wheel is all the way to the LEFT?
At which point we climbed deeper into the dark 53′ trailer so we could see the front of the car. Indeed, one tire was pointing fully to the left and the other fully to the right. We looked under the car to find the nut missing and the tie rod end no longer connected.
It may look pretty normal in the photo, but if you look closely in the upper right of the picture, you will see the tie rod end floating in mid-air beneath the steering arm. That’s because the nut came loose, unscrewed and departed the vehicle, and then the tie rod end fell out of the steering arm. When turning the steering wheel with this configuration, one wheel turns, and goes in any direction other than parallel to its mate, which is to say, driving in this mode could have disastrous consequences. Fortunately, this all happened while the car was making its cross country journey, safely secured inside this trailer.
We fixed it, tightened it and drove it off the trailer without issue. No one was hurt. But
please before your next drive in your classic car put a wrench on YOUR tie rod ends. Original tie rod ends were drilled for a cotter pin. Unfortunately, newer replacements are sold with a nyloc nut instead. We’ll never know why this one fell-off. Perhaps it was insufficiently tightened. Or maybe the installer lost the nyloc and used a generic nut. Regardless, have a look at yours. Two-wheel steering is a good thing.