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SMOODY
01-30-2006, 01:29 PM
On Saturday I got to play BMW mechanic. The morning was spent putting a new thermostat housing on the wagon. The old thermostat was leaking and stuck in the open position. The afternoon and evening was spent putting my new UUC sway bars on the 330i. I set them for full stiff up front and soft in the rear, just to be on the safe side. I went to bed with a sense of accomplishment.

On Sunday I took the 330i out to run some errands. I, of course, took some twisty back roads to check out the handling. I also turned off the DSC to make sure it did not mask what I was feeling. The car felt O.K., body lean was reduced substantially and the car felt very responsive. Then I entered a right hand turn, the road was still wet from the morning rain. Right after I entered the turn, the rear began to slide out. I corrected for the slide, but then the front wheels found some traction and whipped the car back the other way. The rear was much looser than I have ever experienced, even on snow or on the skid pad. The understeer that I am used to was replaced with oversteer, big time oversteer.

I was starting to win the battle, when the right rear tire dropped of the side of the road. Physics then took over and the car rotated to the left as the tire slid down the side of the road into the ditch. The car rotated about 90 degrees, and just before coming to a stop slide backwards into the woods. The car ended up neatly parked between 2 trees, perpendicular to the road. Only by a miracle, or sheer dumb luck, none of the body panels sustained any damage.

The car was stuck. It would not move backwards or forwards.

I called my wife, she called the tow truck. While I was waiting for the tow truck, two of Prince William County’s finest happened on the scene. They asked a few questions, and verified that no one was injured and no one else was involved. I told them what happened. They surveyed the scene. Then they asked for my license and registration and went back to the squad car to wait for the tow truck.

The tow truck finally arrived, the cops did their traffic duty, and we winched the car out of the ditch using the tow point on the front bumper. An inspection of the car revealed a missing plastic jack point pad, damage to the front bumper and the plastic shroud in the left wheel well. I paid the tow truck driver and then Prince William’s finest presented me with a reckless driving ticket. Ouch, talk about insult on top of injury. They explained that the ticket was “routine” in these matters. They gave me some compliments on my car and went back to their squad car. They also stuck around to make sure the car would move O.K. on its own.

I was able to drive the car home with no issues detected. I hosed down the undercarriage (it was covered in mud) and jacked it up, I could not find any mechanical damage.

I plan to take it to a professional to get it looked at, replace the damaged pieces, and get a 4 wheel alignment.

I also plan to remove the UUC sways, and put the stock bars back on.

Thanks for hearing my tale of woe.

Nick325xiT 5spd
01-30-2006, 01:50 PM
Keep the big front bar.

Dirichlet
01-30-2006, 02:17 PM
Sorry to hear about that smoods... at least there was no 'significant' damage done to you or your car. And, what's up w/ the reckless thing - you gotta be able to challenge that somehow. Anywho, good luck.

SMOODY
01-30-2006, 03:28 PM
Keep the big front bar.
Won't that make it plow like a truck?

SMOODY
01-30-2006, 03:56 PM
Sorry to hear about that smoods... at least there was no 'significant' damage done to you or your car. And, what's up w/ the reckless thing - you gotta be able to challenge that somehow. Anywho, good luck.
I am looking into challenging the reckless / unable to maintain control charge. I have not had a ticket in over 10 years, I really don't want a reckless charge on my record. We will see how that goes.

I think the one officer felt bad about giving me a ticket, but his partner was going by the book. A little, good cop, bad cop routine.

Nick325xiT 5spd
01-30-2006, 04:10 PM
Won't that make it plow like a truck?
No. E46es desperately need more front bar. Rear bar is optional (you don't need it at all).

glindsay
01-30-2006, 06:50 PM
Sorry to hear about the bumper damage. It must have been awkward to explain to your family on top of the cost for the bars. Since no other vehicles were involved, the reckless driving charge should not hold up, I'd think. Check your wheels over very carefully for roundness and wobbles. Sounds like they went through a lot of forces.

I'm certain you have re-played the event over and over to determine what went wrong. Sounds like road surface moisture inconsistency on a cold morning running summer tires introduced more variables than the new sway bars. Learning changes in car behavior may not have been a time to defeat the DSC either. From your recount, sounds like you were first faced with under steer, came off the throttle too quick and introduced over steer. Been there done that. Chances are you could have ended up in the woods either way.

I have a 330Ci sport with the 18' staggered wheel option and fully endorse UUC sway bars. As did you, I initially went with full stiff on the front and full loose on the rears. But it was not until the first Driver's School did I push the car hard enough to really find the limits. The track is much more forgiving than a back road.

I feel rear bars are very important. In order to accomplish a turn you have to rotate the car. Controlled over steer helps to do just that. I have now worked up to full stiff on the rear and backed off one position on the fronts.

Just my thoughts,

Greg

OwnedbyDuncan
01-30-2006, 08:29 PM
Reckless Driving is not a traffic offense but a Class 1 Misdemeanor in the State of VA. You should not have spoken to cops at all and if you said anything claimed you were trying to avoid a deer, dog, fox or Paris Hilton. You court appearance is mandatory. Your age will make big difference. I would hire an attorney and try to plea down to Failure to Obey a Highway Sign or something similar.
You have one strike against you going into court because of the vehicle type. Your clean driving record though is an asset that your attorney can use. A conviction for Reckless may result in your insurance company dropping you.

Dave Apker

pranu
01-31-2006, 01:41 AM
Smoody I feel REAL bad for you. I can totally understand the horror and disappointment at not only having to suffer the loss of control and the ensuing damage and sadness but having it topped of with a ticket is - just like you described it - insult to injury - salt in the wound!

This definitely should not deserve a "reckless" ticket - but unfortunately
common sense <> law

I think Dave's advice is pretty apt. Best of luck with trying to reduce the ticket as much as you can - and hopefully the damage wont set you back by too much!

bren
01-31-2006, 08:45 AM
This definitely should not deserve a "reckless" ticket - but unfortunately
common sense <> law

Going into a turn too hot resulting in an out of control spin off the road surface sounds like "reckelss driving" to me.

Of course the officers can't really say what you did was reckless since they didn't actually see what happened.

pranu
01-31-2006, 10:23 AM
Bren: Point taken.

I guess I was considering it from the point of view that no one was hurt in the process, the person who caused the incident seems to have suffered a fair amount of ordeal already. But I guess you can't go soft on the law due to these reasons.

From the sympathetic point of view perhaps a stern warning or a failure to follow road signs might have been a more appropriate punishment.

AlfaEric
01-31-2006, 10:41 AM
Bren: Point taken.

I guess I was considering it from the point of view that no one was hurt in the process, the person who caused the incident seems to have suffered a fair amount of ordeal already. But I guess you can't go soft on the law due to these reasons.

From the sympathetic point of view perhaps a stern warning or a failure to follow road signs might have been a more appropriate punishment.
It is a very harsh ticket.



Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+coh+46.2-852+500666

I believe a court appearance is mandatory. Hopefully you can get it reduced or thrown out.

---Eric

SMOODY
01-31-2006, 10:53 AM
Well, what can I say. I did not think I was being reckless, but I can see why it would appear that way. Guy does a suspension mod, goes for a ride down a twisty road, probably pushing it a little, loses control in a turn, and ends up in a ditch. Agreed, this does not look good.

I will also agree that turning off the DSC was a REALLY BAD idea given the suspension change. I am used to turning it off for autocrossing and the drivers schools, and I thought that it would not be an issue. I can assure you that I will not make that mistake again.

Also, the car did not spin. It fish-tailed a couple of times before leaving the road, but I managed to avoid a spin. It did not even get completely sideways until it left the road. A small issue I know, but I was trying to use what I have learned on the skid pad.

I did not think I was going that fast. The road before the turn was wet and a little muddy from a construction site. I had slowed down going through the mud. I sped up a little coming out of the muddy area because the turn past the construction site appeared to be clear of mud. I was still a little tentative on how the car would respond. I don’t remember if I even used the brakes for the turn.

I discussed the accident in depth with my wife last night. She finally calmed down enough to talk to me about it.

She had come out to check on me before the police arriving on the scene. She said that she remembers the traction control in her car coming on as she took that turn. Although it was not visible, there may have been just enough of a film of dirt in that corner to effect traction.

I do not run a staggered tire set up on my car. I have 225 Pirelli PZero Nero all seasons on 17 inch rims both front and rear. I am beginning to wonder if the UUC sway bars are really designed for a staggered setup were you have more tire at the rear of the car.

I understand that my appearance in court is mandatory. My wife is an attorney. She also called one of her friends who practices in Prince William County to get a list of attorneys who do traffic law. We will see what happens.

Thanks for reading and responding. It helps to see what others have to say, supportive and otherwise. I am trying to understand what happened, and make sure that I do not put myself in a situation like this again.

Nick325xiT 5spd
01-31-2006, 01:07 PM
If it fishtailed, you were slow to recognize oversteer, cranked the wheel too far, held it too long, and repeated that a few times until you left the road.

1996 328ti
01-31-2006, 01:36 PM
Also, the car did not spin. It fish-tailed a couple of times before leaving the road, but I managed to avoid a spin. It did not even get completely sideways until it left the road. A small issue I know, but I was trying to use what I have learned on the skid pad.I can tell you from experience, the $hit hits the fan fast. On the skid pad you are expecting to get loose and are prepared. In 2000 I totalled my car on a back road in Frederick County, MD. The tail got loose, right rear wheel hit gravel, I shot across the road 90 degrees and corrected. I slid off the road sideways but I was pointing in the direction I wanted to go at least. That probably saved my life. As I was sliding sideways the car was slowing up.

Contributing factors in my case were, I was tired, it was very early in the morning. Dew on the ground and wet gravel. It was not what I would consider a spirited drive for normal conditions. But under these conditions it was obviously too brisk.

SMOODY
01-31-2006, 02:04 PM
If it fishtailed, you were slow to recognize oversteer, cranked the wheel too far, held it too long, and repeated that a few times until you left the road.I think that is a fair assessment. I was not ready for the slide, so it took me by complete surprise. I probably did over react with too much opposite lock and held it there too long.

The stiffer rear sways also seemed to result in a faster transition between neutral, oversteer and understeer. My reaction times were not fast enough and my lack of experience with the new setup resulted in not making the appropriate inputs. I was on a very steep learning curve and I ran out of road before I could get a feel for it.

Dirichlet
01-31-2006, 02:32 PM
The road before the turn was wet and a little muddy from a construction site. I had slowed down going through the mud...

She had come out to check on me before the police arriving on the scene. She said that she remembers the traction control in her car coming on as she took that turn. Although it was not visible, there may have been just enough of a film of dirt in that corner to effect traction....


I believe that would be a defense... stick to the road being crappy - don't tell anybody about the sway bars, etc. (unless you already said something to the cops - hopefully, you didn't)

Good luck

Nick325xiT 5spd
01-31-2006, 02:36 PM
I think that is a fair assessment. I was not ready for the slide, so it took me by complete surprise. I probably did over react with too much opposite lock and held it there too long.

The stiffer rear sways also seemed to result in a faster transition between neutral, oversteer and understeer. My reaction times were not fast enough and my lack of experience with the new setup resulted in not making the appropriate inputs. I was on a very steep learning curve and I ran out of road before I could get a feel for it.
Yep.

And swaybars really do suck in the wet, which just makes things that much worse.

glindsay
01-31-2006, 04:28 PM
From what I recall the UUC instructions are not clear. Attaching the links in the forward holes on the FRONT sway bar is full STIFF. Whereas using the forward holes on the REAR bar is full LOOSE. Smoody, is this consistent with your initial settings?

Greg

SMOODY
01-31-2006, 04:51 PM
From what I recall the UUC instructions are not clear. Attaching the links in the forward holes on the FRONT sway bar is full STIFF. Whereas using the forward holes on the REAR bar is full LOOSE. Smoody, is this consistent with your initial settings?

Greg
I agree that the UUC instructions were a bit lacking. They were written for an e36. But between the instructions and the Bentley book I figured it out.

I used the holes furthest from the end of the bar on the front.

I used the holes closest to the end of the bar for the rear.

SharkD
01-31-2006, 05:49 PM
Well, if you had the front stiff and the rear loose (which is sounds like you did), I would suspect that, unless you were absolutely flying down the road, that the combination of water and mud on the roadway, (with a little help from the lack of DSC) caused the rears to loose their grip. The suspension change only resulted in the car moving faster than you were used to reacting.

Please tell me that you took photos of the road surface as soon as possible after the incident... if you could prove that the surface was slick and that sight lines prevented you from being able to anticipate the lack of grip, you might be able to get the charges dropped, or at least reduced to exceeding proper speed in degraded conditions. (Keeping a disposable camera in the glove box is always a good idea for accident claims.)

IIRC, the state/county/etc also has road surveys that might show how different surface conditions at the posted speed can affect traction and control.

The clause about "irrespective of speed" in code 46.2-852 only exists so that they can charge someone who's weaving in and out of lanes (and so on) but doing the speed limit or less.


Setup of the Sway Barbarian

It is recommended that you become familiar with the characteristics of the Sway Barbarian before "pushing it" in higher speed maneuvers. Without becoming adjusted to your car's new handling, you may lose control of your vehicle.

After the front and rear Sway Barbarians have been installed, it is recommended that the front be set to FULL STIFF (which is the innermost of the three holes) and the rear to FULL SOFT (holes closest to the ends). This setup will give your car the reasonable understeer with the Sway Barbarians. From there, you can tune the bars to your driving style.

For advanced users, note that you can set the front and rear bar in "middle" positions. For example, the rear E36 M3 Sway Barbarian has two adjustment holes. Conventional thinking would assume that you have two positions, softer (holes furthest away from the ends of the bar) or stiffer (holes on the ends of the bar). For increased fine tuning, you can set one side to soft and the other side to stiff. The vehicle does not know the different from side-to-side when it comes to bar stiffness, so in effect, you have a "middle" position.

http://www.uucmotorwerks.com/html_product/sway_barbarian/html_sway_bar/setup.htm

OwnedbyDuncan
01-31-2006, 07:49 PM
Yeah you were lucky no one else was heading in the other direction. You could have hurt, maimed or killed someone because you were stupid enough to test a suspension modification on a public road. Think about what could have happened if there was another car. I have problems with 20mph over the speed limit in VA being an automatic Reckless Driving citation but I dont have a problem with the officer citing you for Reckless since you were. And if someone was killed I wouldn't have a problem with PW Commonwealth's Attorney charging you with manslaughter or another serious felony. Just be happy since you were charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor that you weren't hauled off to jail, fingerprinted, your mug shot taken and thrown in lock up with Bubba until you posted bail. The bologna snadwiches suck in PW. You did something stupid you got off easy with Reckless Driving. Maybe you will beat it in court. If you are white, male and have a decent attorney you should be able to plea bargain it down. Instead of whining just consider how lucky you are. Depending on what you do for a lving a midemeanor conviction can have serious consequences. In DOD it can result in loss of your job or you security clearance or level of access(es).

Dave Apker

GT
01-31-2006, 08:30 PM
SMoody made a mistake. No need for lectures or that "you're lucky you didn't..." attitude. So he's learning how to drive...big deal.

As insulting as it may have been, the cop that issued the ticket had a reason for doing so: it was part of his job. What about you a-holes?

GT
01-31-2006, 08:31 PM
Yup. I meant you, a-hole.

1996 328ti
01-31-2006, 08:49 PM
SMoody made a mistake. No need for lectures or that "you're lucky you didn't..." attitude. So he's learning how to drive...big deal. I agree. He made a mistake and accepts full responsibility. There is nothing more that needs to be said. No one got hurt.

rumatt
01-31-2006, 08:57 PM
I installed the UUC bars a while ago on my 330i. With the front at full stiff and the rear at full soft, I still had oversteer problems at autocrosses (back when I had stock shocks). I don't consider them "neutral" at all.

Like you, I initially thought a front bar only would create understeer... but it doesn't. Right now I'm running a front 27mm H&R bar and the stock rear bar. It's very reasonable. I guess the theory is that the car has camber problems, so by keeping the front tires flat you're giving the front more grip...

or something.

SMOODY
02-01-2006, 04:49 PM
Please tell me that you took photos of the road surface as soon as possible after the incident...
no. I did not have a camera with me.


Yeah you were lucky no one else was heading in the other direction. You could have hurt, maimed or killed someone because you were stupid enough to test a suspension modification on a public road.....

Dave, I agree. I made several mistakes that day. It was very fortunate that no one was injured. It could have gone horribly wrong. I think that I have learned from the experience, and hopefully others have as well. Peace.

mlytle
02-01-2006, 11:30 PM
maybe it is just my paranoia setting in, but if i did something stupid on a public road i wouldn't say a word about it in a public internet forum. while all the friendly banter amongst the regulars here would be interesting, i would be afraid some crafty attorney/judge/cop would see it and use it for evil. especially if there was already a reckless driving ticket on record.
my suggestion for smoody...go back and delete every post here where you admitted anything...

OwnedbyDuncan
02-02-2006, 04:52 AM
DiD the installation instructions mention anything about preload and how this is not good. ANd it is too early for me to remember why?

Dave Apker

OwnedbyDuncan
02-02-2006, 06:27 AM
After Officer Donut embellishes and gives his version of events you are called to stand and provide the following sworn testimony.

Well your honor I was driving down (fill in th blank) and I got to the part of the road where its gets twisty. As I entered one curve the road surface was covered with mud, debris and was wet. My BMW started to fishtail and I over corrected and ended up in the ditch on the side of the road.

Definition of Reckless Dring from VA Code
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.



Sir I find you guilty of Reckless Driving. Fined $1000.00 and your license is supsended for 3 months.

Read the definition you just admitted to the violation. The condition of road is not mitigation. Would have mattered if the curve was covered with ice. You are supposed to be driving at a speed that allows you to control your car. If road conditions are that bad you are supposed to have enough common sense to stay off the road.

Talk to your attorney and try to plead down to Driving to Fast for Conditions or better yet Failure to Obey a Highway Sign or Failure to Give Fulltime and Attention. Defective Equipment. Blaming the road conditions is an admission of guilt especially when the judge notices you are driving a nice shiny new BMW.

A traffic citation means higher insurance rates. However a midemeanor conviction can result in job loss, loss of your security clearance or acccess and you can be separated involuntarily from the military etc.

Dave Apker

old skool
02-03-2006, 11:30 PM
Fight the ticket. At best they have you for failure to maintain control. If you get an attourney it will really benefit you in the long run. Reckless packs a good bit of points and don't expect to ever get out of a ticket again with that on your record.

OwnedbyDuncan
02-04-2006, 11:11 AM
Per today's Washington Post Shawn Springs of the Redskins was convicted of Reckless Driving 98 in 65. Sentenced to one day jail and fined approx $500.
Just FYI. He was driving a Mercedes. I dont think you will get the same consideration or can afford the same legal talent. I am also sure Mr Springs was not in the general population for his day in jail.

But what the heck you meet lots of new friends and have a great culinary experience.

Dave Apker

GT
02-04-2006, 02:33 PM
Per today's Washington Post Shawn Springs of the Redskins was convicted of Reckless Driving 98 in 65. Sentenced to one day jail and fined approx $500.
Just FYI. He was driving a Mercedes. I dont think you will get the same consideration or can afford the same legal talent. I am also sure Mr Springs was not in the general population for his day in jail.

But what the heck you meet lots of new friends and have a great culinary experience.

Dave ApkerNow this stuff probably gets you off, but what good does this post do for SMoody other than to make him worry even more?

If you included where this happened, then at least the original poster would've gotten something useful out of it (like what a 98 in a 65 means in VA/MD/wheretheFever, but that really wasn't what you set out to do, was it?

A-hole.

Glenn Ty

OwnedbyDuncan
02-04-2006, 04:07 PM
No was in a rush. Had to go to a home visit for Collie Rescue. No malicious intent. My bad sorry it was Loudoun County. Or maybe you could have read the WP. Since posters including me have been talking about pleading to a lesser charge I thought it was important info.

Now little boy would you like to discuss this in person!

Dave Apker

SharkD
02-04-2006, 05:32 PM
Dave,

I think the general issue, and it's been pointed out before in these forums, is that the acerbic, condescending and moderately antagonistic coating tends to undermine your point, which -- given your wealth of experience -- is usually spot-on. Just try dialing it down a few notches.

Anyway, as fun as it is to hypothesize scenarios and consequences, this thread's purely academic until the thread starter has spoken with legal representation and has his day in court.

GT
02-04-2006, 07:04 PM
You did have pure intentions, after all. Good man!

Tell you what. I'll start reading the Post if you take "Sharing Your Wisdom Tactfully 101".

woodym3
02-05-2006, 10:32 AM
Now this stuff probably gets you off, but what good does this post do for SMoody other than to make him worry even more?

Glenn Ty
Glenn,
I too saw the Post article yesterday morning and meant to post something - not to worry Steve, but to point out that Reckless Driving in Virginia is no trival matter. Unfortunately I learned the hard way.

SMOODY
05-08-2006, 08:26 AM
Well, I thought I should let all of you know the end of this story.

I went to court at my appointed time and my attorney was able to negotiate a good resolution for me. Because I have not had any violations (moving or otherwise) in over 12 years, the Commonwealth's attorney agreed to drop the charges in exchange for me taking an 8 hour Driver Improvement course.

Dirichlet
05-08-2006, 09:49 AM
... in exchange for me taking an 8 hour Driver Improvement course.

bwuahahaha - stupid legal system...

I'm sure you can drive circles around the people who will be teaching this 'driver improvement' course... hell, maybe you can teach 'em a thing or two :)

TMB_540i
05-08-2006, 07:55 PM
So of course you told the judge that you didn't need the stinking 8 hour driver improvement course since you were doing the BMWCCA's HPDE at Summit Point - Shenandoah Circuit in 2 weeks. Right???:)

Johntee540
05-09-2006, 09:25 AM
I wouldnt have turned off the ASC until I got used to the car's handling with the new sways and the Traction control. I know hindsight is 20/20 - but since you never usually drive with ASC off - that probably wouldnt have been my first move. The ASC on these cars actually do a lot of work.

I learned this one day by turning off my ASC on my 99 M Roadster going into a turn only to end up facing the wrong way on Route 7 mid turn! :) - JT

SMOODY
05-09-2006, 02:21 PM
So of course you told the judge that you didn't need the stinking 8 hour driver improvement course since you were doing the BMWCCA's HPDE at Summit Point - Shenandoah Circuit in 2 weeks. Right???:)
No, under the advise of my council, I did not mention that to the judge. :wink:

I had already asked my attorney and he said that the BMW school doesn't count. :frown:

SharkD
05-09-2006, 05:24 PM
I had already asked my attorney and he said that the BMW school doesn't count. :frown:

I think your attorney had it all wrong -- had you simply said, "You Honor, I'm already taking a driving course with the BMW club, so that next time, not only will I not lose control, but I'll be able to take that corner a good 5mph faster... in the wet..." I'm sure the Judge would have released you on your own recognizance -- and maybe even asked for info on joining the 'CCA (which could've netted you a free additional month of membership).

slantsixm3
05-10-2006, 04:04 PM
Smoody,
Glad to hear you were able to get such a reduction. I believe it is time, effort and $ well spent. I stared down the barrel of a reckless once (+20 over), a lawyer didn't have good things to say about the consequences, he was able to get a reduction to "failure to obey traffic sign", which I considered a victory. You did much better, I'd thank your favorite attorney..:wink:
In hindsight, of course, you realize as a driver's school attendee, a. you should've known better that to push it on the street, b. the next school is the *perfect* place to experiment with a new handling gadget like sways. The skidpad will tell the tale, understeer, oversteer, neutral... Most instructors would happily help you review your car's handling and suggest (or even help) make changes. Tire pressures, sizes, alignment, and driver technique often must be changed when the setup changes.
Don't toss the new 'bars in the dumpster just yet, maybe put them back on before your next school and see how it goes.

As for your incident, you mentioned a constuction site before the turn. This can be a bigger factor than most realize, in damp conditions, the silt can get dragged up the road a long ways, and is not always visible, but very slick. Again, I think there are just too many variables to fool around too much on the street.
Hope I see you at the track, drive safely, and always -
enjoy your BMW.

- Joel B.