Sometimes all of the technological gadgetry in our newer vehicles may lull us into a false sense of security. Sadly, all-wheel drive, traction control, Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) will only go so far. They are in place to protect you in case of a boo-boo, but can only do so much if you are pushing them beyond their limit. The BMW 5 series that died here on this video has been pushed beyond that threshold to the point of no return.
We are a multiple BMW household with vehicles ranging from the 1970's 2002, the 1984 e28, the 1998 540i (like what is in the video), and the newer e60. I can tell you that they are quite forgiving if you make a mistake -- you don't realize just how large of a car they are until you remove any of the electronic nannies (in BMW's case, ASC or DSC). As for the older ones (which I prefer to drive), you just have to know how to drive the car, especially in the case of severe weather conditions.
|e28 533i at 502 MotorSports HQ in 2009|
While leaving our house in Louisville, KY, one particularly heavily snowy morning, I had a choice: drive the e39 540i, the e34 525i or the e46 325Xi. My first thought was to take out the 525i, as the other two BMWs were lowered, had plus-sized aftermarket wheels and low-profile all-season tires, while the 525i was pretty much stock. There was a good 5" of snow on the ground and the snow plow had yet to make its way to our cul-de-sac.
|the e34 525i - pretty much stock|
Next was the 540i. This car was such a joy to drive in the rain and dry climates, I figured, why not? When I first came to visit Kentucky from Atlanta, a huge snow storm hit me on I-65 and I made it to Louisville just fine - rims and all! This car handled the snow pretty well. I went to the top of the street, modulating the power, and at the same time, having more of it on tap made it easier to get it up the hill.
|e46 and e39 - both lowered on 19" and 18" wheels, respectively|
I got to the same spot, turned around, and for bits and giggles decided to pull out the 325Xi. Since this car was the all-wheel drive car in the house, this would be interesting. Let me tell you, not only did it have more than enough power to get us up the hill and around the corner, it did this effortlessly. Even with the low-profile tires and lowered suspension. In fact, this car was a lifesaver, as it made short work of the commute to the office, whereas the other cars could have made it with more effort.
|e60 530i with 19" and Bilstein PSS9 coilovers|
Now, that was just one day. There were many other days that I had to deal with large amounts of snow, and the other BMW vehicles handled just fine. The point I want to make is that you must know how to drive your car in the weather conditions like we are facing today. Unfortunately, the gentleman in the video lost his car due to a fire started by his ignorance, and how not to get into trouble. What would you have done? I can tell you this is not BMW's fault. It is not a fault of rear-wheel drive. The same can happen to a 4x4, AWD or FWD car if handled incorrectly. I know from my experience of driving these cars for almost 20 years that you have to listen to what the car is telling you, and adapt accordingly.
Spinning your wheels either literally or figuratively is hardly ever a good thing. I think my next blog will speak on what to do in these situations. Please stay tuned, and tell a friend!
Thanks for reading!