Sunday, December 08, 2013

I Broke Martha's Car, Schnitzel

I was driving Martha's car, a 2005 BMW X5 we'd named Schnitzel, yesterday just before Noon, enroute to Oscar's house to talk mechanical stuff in his warm garage.  Temperatures were around 5F, quite chilly.

There's a small hill just before Oscar's house, with a negative-cambered slope on the downhill side.  I was going just below the posted limit of 25 mph as this is a neighborhood street.  However, I didn't account for the fact that it was basically slick ice on the downhill side of the hill.

Schnitzel, started sliding, the tail moving to the right, I let off the gas and tried to counter-steer but to no avail.  I believe, the right front tire hit the curb first, spun the car around 90 degrees so that it was now headed sideways towards the far curb.

The impact took out the stop sign and lamp post located on the corner.  I was unhurt, and after a second or so, drove slowly off the curb, turned the car around and parked it to assess damage. (Airbags didn't deploy)

 The stop sign above had actually been thrown into the fence and caused
the hole you see.  I think the local utility crew had moved it when they put up
the temporary stop sign you see.  I believe the parallel dirt tracks are where
Schnitzel's left side wheels rode up over the curb.

This was the body damage I initially saw and thought myself lucky to have
only sustained on Schnitzel.

The left front tire was flat, knocked off its bead by the impact.  I called Oscar and asked for the loan of his jack since he was only a block away.  I got the spare tire out, and prepared for the tire swap.  Oscar shows up, does most of the work and the spare tire was in place.  However, this is when the real damage was noted by us.

 The right front wheel is pointed straight, which left the left front wheel
pointing at an off-angle as you can see in these pics.  
Oscar believes that the lower struts were bent, at the very least.

Obviously not drivable, I asked for a tow truck through my insurance company.  I'd called the police who showed up as we finished work on the tire.  Because there was property damage, he cited me for "driving too fast for conditions".  Apparently, I was the officer's third similar citation of the day, the neighborhood streets all over being quite slick.

Oscar drove me in his truck to his home and there I waited the almost four hours it took to get a tow truck to pick up Schnitzel.  Busy day for the towing companies I imagine.

When the tow truck did show, he informed me he couldn't take me home as I'd assumed.  Oscar generously took me home in his truck, what a good friend.  My thanks to Oscar and his lovely wife Janet for letting me camp out in their house during the frigid afternoon, for their help and finally his driving me all the way home in darkness and icy road conditions.

Schnitzel sits in a secured storage area today, tomorrow hopefully gets taken to an approved repair center and the decisions are made by the insurance adjuster to either fix her or total her due to her mileage and value.  I really hope they decide to fix her, Martha really likes Schnitzel.  

We'll be taking receipt of a rental car on Monday, under insurance coverage fortunately, so Martha will be mobile once again as the cold weather continues its grip on our area.  


SonjaM said...

Poor Schnitzel, but I am genuinely happy that you weren't hurt. I am surprised that the damage was relatively high given your low speed. I guess it must have been a very awkward angle when the car hit the curb. Kudos to Oscar for being a great friend.

Trobairitz said...

Oh no. I am glad you are ok. Cars can be fixed, but there is only one you.

So, do you think you could have made it without slipping if you were on Valencia?

RichardM said...

Sorry to hear about the crack up, but at least no one was hurt and the damage relatively modest though it's hard to tell with the unibody cars.

You may have heard by now from others but with a FWD or AWD, when the back end starts to slip, a tiny bit of throttle instead of backing off will usually get things in line again. AWD requires a little more finesse than FWD but the technique usually works. Backing off of the throttle usually accelerates the tendency to spin.

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM, was a bad angle and the wheel took the whole impact really.

Trobairitz, thanks...I think Valencia would have been better, she loses a lot of speed when going sideways....

RichardM, actually, I'd not heard that re AWD, now I know.

Bluekat said...

That sucks, but I'm glad you're okay! Too bad they ticketed you - adds insult to injury. Doesn't seem to take much to break cars these days.

RichardM said...

BTW, an even more important skill when towing.

BeemerGirl said...

So sorry the damage was so bad at slow speed! So happy you weren't damaged in the process. Hope Schnitzels story is a good one.

Unknown said...


in the end, the important thing is that you are Okay. Metal can be fixed. You, not so much

Seems like the front suspension took the full force. Probably is a bent A-arm or broken spindle. Too bad you had to get ticketed

a big thanks to Oscar, he is truly a good friend to be relied on

Riding the Wet Coast

Gary France said...

This is a sorry tale, but made funny by the picture (on Facebook) of Martha in the sidecar with the groceries. I don't know why, but when I saw your poor wife sitting there surrounded by the shopping, I couldn't help but smile. Dom, you are really lucky to have such a great wife.

Ken said...

Oh man.... it was not fair for the citation. Maybe you should fight it in court. Glad that you're OK.