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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-29-2012, 03:05 AM
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Lessons learned extricating my E39 after being mired in the mud of a CA hillside

Learned a few neat new things today about extricating my BMW from the mud on a one-lane curvy road in the Santa Cruz Mountains!


We've had some pretty good (i.e., stormy) weather lately here in the Silicon Valley so I grabbed my camera for a long drive in the mountains to find a nice new spot to hike in the rain (which I love to do) - and - instantly realized my mistake as soon as I tried to park off to the side of an unfamiliar windy road.

The moment the front wheels left the pavement, my bimmer mired itself nose down into the mud on the wet slippery steeply downhill slope!

The amazing thing was the unexpectedly total and unequivocal lack of traction!


Funny thing was that I was mired in the mud even before either of the rear wheels left the pavement. They just spun uselessly as I tried to back out uphill. Disabling DSC had absolutely no effect!


So I tried to use forward downhill momentum to power out of the mud moving downhill and away from the slope.

Didn't work.

Luckily, AAA has an "extrication provision", where you're apparently allowed only one driver and one extraction truck (I had not realized that extrication isn't towing, per se ... at least not in their book).

Problem was the car couldn't be pulled forward as it had nosed into the hill - yet it would have been dangerous to pull backward due to the uphill slope, slick one-lane road, and nearby curves and cliffs.

So he pulled it sideways!

I learned something new as I had never been towed sideways before!

What else I learned from the very friendly tow truck operator was that he NEVER uses the tow hook when extracting a BMW sideways ... he used this cloth contraption that he bought from a crane operator to pull out sideways from the wheels. Said the tow hook will tear the car apart when pulled sideways.


He said the wheels are the strongest point of the vehicle when pulling sideways!

It was also non intuitive to me that the tow truck operator locked the front wheel in place by setting the steering lock and then firmly set the parking brake and put the transmission into the park position.

Too bad I didn't carry my snow chains!

Lesson learned!
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Last edited by bluebee; 11-29-2012 at 10:56 AM. Reason: Added photos.
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  #2  
Old 11-29-2012, 04:17 AM
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Very interesting! I can see not pullling the tow hook sideways as the hook is not designed for a lateral load, only an inline load. But pulling the wheel sideways is an interesting trick. I had a similar thing happen, only in snow in my Explorer as I had to dodge a car coming up our one lane private road in ME. I stuffed it into the snowbank and could not back out (and uphill) nor go forward. We finally dug enough of the snow bank away so that we could turn slightly and drive out, downhill. I now keep an old airdrop sling and ratcheting winch around, just in case it happens again. I'll remember that sideways pull trick. Thanx!
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  #3  
Old 11-29-2012, 06:08 AM
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Oh my Goodness !! That is wild !! I will tell you that I would have questioned the Tow Truck Driver's sanity when he suggested pulling the front end laterally. I'm going to give him the benefit of doubt and say that his experience trumps all. I just hope he wasn't looking for the easy way out.

So what did you do as soon as you were back on Terra Firma ??? Drive to the Car Wash and get all that mud off the underside ??? Did the BlueBee shake violently because the mud threw everything out of balance ??
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:15 AM
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Silly rabbit. Mud is for trucks.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:55 AM
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The cloth contraption is called a Tow Strap. I keep one handy when I have to pull people out of the dunes at OBX, NC because they think they will be fine using their small/med size SUV on the 4 wheel drive beaches.
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2012, 07:32 AM
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Interesting. If you had the car in 2nd gear it would not wiggle out?
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:44 AM
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Looking at how saturated that soil is, I think most awd/4wd would have been a challenge getting out. Glad you had a competent tow driver that knows his stuff.
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  #8  
Old 11-29-2012, 07:58 AM
Sumotide17 Sumotide17 is offline
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Sorry to hear about you car. Did you get some pictures other than your car getting dug out by the tow truck driver?
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:05 AM
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1+,

This tow truck driver knows his stuff.
Clever guy.
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  #10  
Old 11-29-2012, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Sumotide17 View Post
Did you get some pictures
Because the tow-truck operator arrived relatively quickly (within the half hour), I did get to go on a slightly abbreviated hike.

Here is what it looks like this time of the year hiking in the mountains.

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Last edited by bluebee; 11-29-2012 at 08:26 AM.
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  #11  
Old 11-29-2012, 08:17 AM
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So those were the pictures you wanted eh? Sorry to hear about your misadventures bluebee.

My $0.02, I'd have requested he put warning triangles or cones on either side of the bend and just pull from the back rather than going side ways. The wheels aren't really designed for a high lateral load like that either.

But he was very correct about not pulling laterally via the tow hook, those are not terribly strong and will goof up the mounting spots.

Tow truck drivers aren't always perfect, I've caught several mistakes on pulling from improper places, and but overall sounds like you got a good one.

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  #12  
Old 11-29-2012, 08:39 AM
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So those were the pictures you wanted eh?
Yeah. The weather in California is boringly sunny and clear most of the year - but now, near the Pacific Ocean at least, it changes drastically by the minute, cloudy and rainy, and then sunny for a few minutes, and then back to clouds and rain.

At the bottom were the lakes and streams (and mud!), while near the top, was the view of the cloud shrouded magical mountains!

The only humans I ran into on my hike were the die-hard mountain bikers - but they had a (much) rougher time getting there than I did!

So, no need to feel sorry for me. It was a glorious day for sure!

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Last edited by bluebee; 11-30-2012 at 08:33 AM. Reason: Added pictures.
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  #13  
Old 11-29-2012, 09:00 AM
540nj 540nj is offline
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Bluebee,

Great pics! I have ridden my mtb around saratoga hills area, beautiful (and strenuous!) rides.

Are you sure your car incident didn't have anything to do with the leaf you have stenciled on your dash?


dave
03 540i6
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  #14  
Old 11-29-2012, 10:05 AM
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Are you sure your car incident didn't have anything to do with the leaf you have stenciled on your dash?


dave
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LOL i thought the same thing. Whoooaaa duude the car is like, stuck!
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:14 AM
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Yeah. The weather in California is boringly sunny and clear most of the year - but now, near the Pacific Ocean, it changes drastically by the minute!

At the bottom were the lakes and streams (and mud!), while near the top, was the view of the cloud shrouded magical mountains!
Great shots!

I can't wait for this rain to go away though. You're on some if my favorite driving roads, btw.

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  #16  
Old 11-29-2012, 10:25 AM
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Actually I don't think it is bad to tow the thing sideway as long as it is done slowly and methodically.

Look, when people drift their car on dry road or on snow, the lateral force is way more than this tow truck pulling it.
Just do it slow and easy like this tow truck driver did.
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  #17  
Old 11-29-2012, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by BentValve View Post
The cloth contraption is called a Tow Strap. I keep one handy when I have to pull people out of the dunes at OBX, NC because they think they will be fine using their small/med size SUV on the 4 wheel drive beaches.
I keep a 4" wide strap in my 4x4 as well. Way better than any tow rope, chain, or anything with metal hooks.

(I'm a former tow truck operator myself).
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  #18  
Old 11-29-2012, 08:31 PM
briangl92 briangl92 is offline
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Where were you? That's too deserted to be Hwy 9 so I'm guessing Glenwood? Or somewhere near Summit Rd. Haha I'm surprised you got cell phone reception :P
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Old 11-30-2012, 06:29 AM
Sumotide17 Sumotide17 is offline
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My guess would be Sanborn Park. The picture of the mini-lake is definite give away.
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  #20  
Old 11-30-2012, 07:20 AM
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Where were you?.
You both are right as I was just aimlessly driving around the mountain roads for miles and miles, oggling the wineries and busy taking ad-hoc tangents to follow the temporary signs to Christmas tree farms, and pulling to the side whenever it seemed like a nice spot to walk around and snap pictures. The pond in the picture is dead center on the San Andreas Fault line, and, I'm told, enigmatically fills at the sides and empties out both ends because of the way it was formed by the fault.

Because of the winds, trees, branches, leaves, and even large rocks were all over the road, and the smaller ones mostly seemed to have a debris-strewn muddy hill to one side and a precariously slippery cliff on the other side - with nary a guardrail or shoulder for protection from either. At times, the one-lane roads (few had center stripes) made wild bends, deliberately curving protectively around huge redwood trees, and at other times switchbacking over and over again, with hairpin reversals galore. Some of the roads and paths I drove and hiked were actually blocked off with a swinging gate or hand-painted keep-out no-trespassing signs - (one gravelly dirt road even had a toilet seat painted that way) - which I had figured can't possibly be considered legal (or at least I'd figured I'd say that if/when confronted). That particular road deep in the mountains (Ambrose?) was so steep & gravelly I had to back out, as I couldn't make it up one of the hills - so I started getting scared I'd drive backward off a cliff as it seemed even the mountain bikers had a tough time with traction at that point.

Is it just my observation or do all these mountain roads suddenly get muuuuuch steeper at the top than at the bottom? They seem to start out easy in the bottom thousand feet, but, in the last thousand feet, they seem to start going straight up!

Here's a picture of San Francisco (under the clouds) from a previous hike at a spot near the top of the hill I was trying to get to - but I couldn't make it this time because of the sheer slipperiness. I'll have to wait 'till it dries out, come spring!
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Last edited by bluebee; 11-30-2012 at 08:36 AM. Reason: Added picture...
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  #21  
Old 11-30-2012, 08:29 AM
nsogiba nsogiba is offline
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Yeah. The weather in California is boringly sunny and clear most of the year -
We should all be so lucky to have such problems…

Glad to see the car is unharmed after the mishap. Although cleaning the mud out of all the crevices will be a task for years to come…
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  #22  
Old 11-30-2012, 08:58 AM
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Glad to see the car is unharmed
The bimmer is fine. But the poison oak got me pretty bad this time.
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Last edited by bluebee; 11-30-2012 at 09:01 AM.
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  #23  
Old 11-30-2012, 11:23 AM
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It's raining like a cow pi**ing on a flat rock out there now.
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