Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Ramcharger Has a Broken Leg (Thank you Asian Drivers)

While out doing yard work today, I moved my Ramcharger to the side of my yard so the mower could get the few little bits of grass that it sits on. After clearing up the area, I got in my truck, so I could move it back to where it normally is parked.

I was going to do a quick turn around on the street, so I checked to make sure no car was coming, and I pulled out to do a 3 point turn around. After backing up to get my truck perpendicular to the street, I had just put it into drive when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that didn't belong. I then turned my head just in time to see a grey Toyota Camry that was mere feet from the side of my truck and it didn't appear to be slowing down at all! I didn't even have time to say "Oh S" or anything like that and BANG!

The next thing I knew was that my glasses were knocked off my head and I was rattled around a bit. Fortunately, even though I was just turning around on my street, I remembered my seat belt. I put my glasses back on and looked down to see two older Asian people in the little import car.

I crawled out through the passenger door, as the space my driver door normally occupies was taken up with the front of the offending car that just t-boned me. I walked around the front of my truck, and saw both the other people had gotten out. When I saw that the force of the impact had snapped the rear axleshaft like a matchstick and the rear tire was wedged under the front of their car, I immediately got so angry that instead of having an outburst, I was very calm, but my voice was low and clear.

"Your front brakes don't work?" That was the first thing I said to the guy. Barely able to speak English, he explained that he was teaching the female driver how to drive and this was her first time. "Expensive lesson." I replied. "Do you know how fast you were going when you hit me?" I asked. The driver, who didn't speak any English, just stood there not knowing what to do. Note, the only reason I didn't ask if they were okay is because the guy asked me if I was okay (which at this point I obviously was not). Either way, I pulled out my phone and dialed 911 straight away and while the dispatcher was on the phone, I asked if they needed medical attention, which they declined.

The police arrived a few minutes later and took our insurance information. In the meantime, my wife (who was working in the office upstairs) came down and told the officer what she saw. Apparently, she looked out just in time to see my Ramcharger's body rearranged by the little car, which she said was going "way too fast" for the street (note, a lot of people speed down this road).

The officer was very cool to me, and I explained that as I pulled out, there was no car in my field of vision. I didn't see any vehicle until just before it collided with my truck. The cop sort of chuckled because he said he had this happen to him just a few weeks prior. And it sucks, he sympathized.

Of course, he gave me a citation for "failure to yield." While I'm not saying I was 100% in the right for trying to pull a u-turn on the street, I'm thinking that failure to yield might be a little much when you consider there was no vehicle on the road when I pulled out. Either way, I'm going to get my day in traffic court and let the judge decide. The important part was that I did not get hurt.

The good news is, and I know it's hard to see a silver lining in this, all the damage was superficial. No structural damage is apparent. The frame, all the suspension points, seem intact. Of course, a verification at the frame shop is in order. The worst damage was to the rear axle, which the backing plate for the drum brake was ripped halfway off the axle tube. No big deal here. I can source another backing plate, hardware, brakes, and a new axle shaft off a parts truck in a junkyard - no problemo!

The irony is that the door was smashed in. The glass survived, even though the window was down. The front fender took a wallop too. I have a replacement fender and door in the garage. How's that for prepared? As for
the lower rocker panel, it was damaged inside the seams, so it can be cut out and replaced pretty easily.

All in all, this pretty much sucked. But it could have been worse. I'm just glad my truck is only down, but not out. Can't say as well for the other car. It won't be driving anymore. They pretty much destroyed it. A total loss for them, considering the year, and the amount of front end damage that occurred.

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Here it is sitting in my backyard after getting pulled up off the street. I've removed the damaged brake components and have inspected much of the damage. Looks like I get to go component shopping this weekend!

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