"Just thought I'd share... 11/28/2002"
I hit a tire and wheel on the Southeast Expressway doing about 50-60 mph... I didn't even see it due to the vagaries of traffic. There was a big BANG! that I thought was me hitting the mother of all potholes, and then things felt a little wrong so I pulled over hard to the left and put on the 4-ways (there are no break down lanes on this wonderfully nasty road).
I hopped out expecting to see a flat, already dreading changing the spare on with cars whipping by at 60, making emergency lane change manouvers to avoid me.
No flat (!) ... but, the left front tire was sticking out at a rather awkward angle... oops. If you've ever seen pictures of a compound fracture of a bone (or suffered one), this looked rather similar - all wrong.
The patient is in the operating room now, so I can figure out what is wrong. The basic malady is that the strut housing (upper half) of the two piece strut/bearing housing assembly tore right off the lower bolt holding it to the bearing housing.
The outer cv boot got gouged up a bit by shrapnel, and the upper strut bearing looks a bit lopsided. The ball joint probably would have survived, but its boot was old and tired, so it tore. The tie rod and tie rod end appear to be just fine, and the brake rotor caliper just went along for the ride, too. Here you can see where the tire did a nice job of polishing the strut housing where it pressed up against it:
The strut boot was jammed and torn, and upon disassembly, I found that the "gland nut" that holds the strut in the housing was cracked, in fact, the top threads of the housing were torn off, too. The strut was leaking oil, and as you can see, was no longer straight.
The car was even, in a very awkward sense, driveable... but more interesting than my wondering how far I could have driven it with one tire travelling sideways (home? 75 miles!?), was that with the front wheel basically broken off, the car handled just fine...