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2002 BMW M5 E39 Dinan
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello fine M5 brothers! I got in some frustrating trouble..

I decided to quit my job and take off to Europe for the summer with the M5, this decision was back in April. During May and beginning of June I moved out of my place and shipped a good amount of my stuff to Europe in a crate. Intention was to drive from LA to NYC and ship car to *anywhere* in Europe, by so getting a road trip out of it and faster shipment time from NYC than from LA. No real long term plan.. just 'gotta do this or I'll regret it'.





Before moving out, figured it was a good time to do quick photoshoot of my M5 in the driveway:





Here's some backstage shots:





Had the car on jacks between May 25th and June 12th, doing repairs for the transcontinental drive and Autobahn preparations.. which included:

Brakes/rotors
H&R spacers 15mm
EGR Valve
Valve covers
Spark plugs
Belts
Tensioners & pulleys
Transmission oil
Diff oil
Power steering fluid change/flush
Coolant flush
Oil change
Thermostat
Temp sensor
That other coolant sensor
Air filters
Fuel filter
Rear door vapor barrier fix
Hood alarm sensor
Carbon fiber interior wrap
Other sensors...& misc other replacements and repairs I forget by now...

Some photos from the repairs:

Power steering fluids getting replaced



Valve covers and spark plugs (among other things) getting tackled.








Had to move out of the house by end of May, the car was still on jack stands waiting for pulley tensioner to arrive from Clemster. Clemster saved my wallet and the day!!
These parts are $$$$ @ Stealer. The pulley tensioner bracket experienced 'galvanic corrosion' and the threads stripped. Very frustrating when stressed and trying to move out.
Had no choice but to tow it to friend's shop.





The M5 panther and CiTi commuter 'proof of concept' motorcycle at my friend's shop.
He's designing the safest motorcycle '3-wheeler' in the world, able to split lanes, more narrow than a police motorcycle and will have a body shell, giving ability to drive in rain in traffic safely @ 50mpg w/ Aprilia motor @ 180hp.
This is the fist 'proof of concept', the first prototype is coming up once his company finds investors/funding for further development.
More on the bike at Robertsham LLC - Welcome to Cutting Traffic.


Parts that are coming out/back in are organized on the left.



All clean and nice, all parts removed cleaned and close to polished... sponsored by the OCD kicking in.


Coming back together.






Replacing the transmission fluid with Royal Purple and a pump nozzle I purchased @ autozone for $5.
The original 'life time' transmission fluid was actually fairly clear for being in for 100,000 miles. Apparently since the transmission oil does not enter the combustion chamber / cylinders like engine oil does, the oil does not get polluted with carbons, etc like engine oil. Gear oil was fairly clear too after 100,000 miles. The original transmission oil smelled like latex rubber, and Royal Purple smelled more like transmission fluid.

I didn't believe in these "pseudo effects" people post here about smoother shifts after transmission oil change, but indeed it was slightly smoother shift, especially engaging into 1st gear. So, yes... it does make a difference.





..
..
..

Car was finished after sitting on jack stands for 14 days. Packed up & it was time to hit the road and drive from LA to NYC to ship car to Europe.


Leaving Orange County / Southern CA at 8pm to head east to NYC.



Left LA on June 14th, with flight ticket and container booked at NYC and by midnight was in middle of Arizona desert cruising comfortably when ... SUDDENLY .. BAM!!!!!! a shredded truck tire appears flying at the speed of sound from the semi truck in the right lane.. and nails the front of the car. The tire made the car jump of the ground as it passed underneath. Immediately pull over to asses damage, based on the hit (never hit anything close to that hard before)... there's damage.




Get out and see the lower front end of the car missing and/or shredded with semi truck tire rubber/shrapnel lodged in auxiliary fan, preventing it from spinning. Immediately concluded that the trip is not happening and this will be needing a very far tow.
Cancelled air line tickets, container shipments, hotels, etc.. sucks with only-partial or non-refunds policies. Makes me think it is cheaper just to not plan anything and hope for best outcome in last minute- say hoping finding airline ticket same day for good price, etc.

The oxygen sensors are ripped off, all undercarriage panels damaged/destroyed, front bumper and fog lights wasted. Radiator bent back (stupid design on these cars- no lower core support), coolant smell appears as I keep running the car seeing if anything is getting stuck in belt fan or elsewhere; assessing if the car can be driven slowly to a better place.

The remnants of the semi truck tire after impact:

Fog light placed for comparison


Call AAA and I got the premium membership which offers 200 miles of free towing once a year (totally payed off for me). The AAA tow truck takes 3 hours to appear and at 3:00 am the car is moved onto the tow truck.

Still stoked on the repairs and new pulleys (that quieted engine down). The car has 152,000 miles on it and engine runs very quietly and smoothly. Sounds as if it was new. The tow truck driver had the tow truck turned off and desert silence (aside from distant cars), and was attaching the straps to the vehicle and asked "Is this thing on?"... lol. Stock exhaust & ripped oxygen sensors. HA!

Since there was 3 of us in the car AAA tried getting a crew cab tow truck, but no luck in the middle of cactus world. The tow truck driver offers us to sit in the M5 on the flat bed for the ~6 hour drive back to LA basin, since there's no room in the cab. For next hours, we do exactly that. Bumpy ride I have to tell you, even with M5 and tow truck suspension. Tow truck's charging $6/mile so AAA had a nice bill after 230+ miles to east side of So-Cal/San Bernardino city, where I had to pitch in the final difference of 30+ miles. 9 hours later I arrived back in So-Cal @ 9am. As the morning dawned, realized there's 2-3 shredded semi tires every mile. The Arizona heat from the asphalt, friction, etc. causes tires to fail at a high rate, leaving debris everywhere...

Tow truck ride:
<iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RgVakM2_dto" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" width="853"></iframe>

Damage during day light:


Does not really show the full extent of damage here. That tire weighted 50+ pounds and at ~75mph the impact is serious, even if it is only rubber. It bends metal, rips through plastic bumper like it was a glowing hot Hattori Hanzo through butter.

I was concerned about the car getting salvaged due to age and high miles (Salvaged cars are not allowed in Germany/Autobahn)...
But the damage has to exceed 80% of car value and car was valued at $15,000+ by Mercury Insurance inspector/adjuster... @ 152,000 miles. These machines keep up the value lately...

Take the car initially to the first body shop I can find in San Bernardino, it is M&G auto body, quite small but it was the only one that picked up the phone on early Sunday morning. Drop the car/keys off and head home to get some sleep.

Now comes the trouble:

Epic road trip and inter-transcontinental drive delayed, I want a fast resolution.. but not so fast according to Mercury.

The insurance inspector shows up 3 days later, I head to meet him at shop and go over the damage.

Damage was on:
Radiator dis-lodged from support and smelling coolant
Radiator metal core support piece slightly out of alignment
Head lights pointing down severely low (noticed when parked after accident)
Hood (bent and scratched by tire wires)
Bumper
Aux fan
Oxygen sensors ripped off
Headlight Washer system
All undercarriage panels
Ambient temp sensor missing
Fuel line retaining/fastener bracket
Front Brake-air ducts bent up
Told them to throw away Dinan Cold air intake water guards (mangled)
Fog lights
Plastics surrounding Aux fan

The Mercury insurance inspector advises me taking car to a better shop where they can inspect the cooling system (since no visible leaks, just smell) and where he would take his car to.. Caliber Collision in Riverside, CA.

After a cluster F*** of towing hassle and a day wasted on that, the car arrives at Caliber Collision only for them to notify me contrary to Inspector's statements that they can't paint the car there because they only deal with official BMW colors and I got custom paint job "Hot Rod Flatz'.
I am more concerned with getting the cooling system/radiator inspected and the mis-aligned core support adjusted back straight.
I advise on the concerns issues, go over car with Caliber rep. Caliber calls me 3 days later, saying "Please come by, show us again what were your concerns"...I drive to them AGAIN (30+ miles one way for the nTh time) to repeat myself on just about everything.

Then Mercury / Caliber notifies me they won't be able to do anything with the hood because it had "previous repairs". I state it was in acceptable condition and send the same photos as posted above, where they rebuttal with "It is not up to industry standard".
Well at least.. if they are so concerned with "Industry Standard" the rest of the vehicle should come out in top shape...minus paint. .. WRONG!

I get notified vehicle is "COMPLETE", after more than 2 weeks. I drive to pick it up. The work performed on vehicle is something that could have taken me 1 day to get parts and 1 day to fix.... but I would have to be on some serious drugs to do such a poor quality job.

On preliminary inspection I notice:

The radiator/core support is not straightened or replaced, not touched what-so-ever.
The Aux fan that got hit only has the outside 'mesh' plastic replaced, though still spinning & wobbling, it was hit heavily during impact.
The fog lights are fogged up (lol). These are supposed to be water tight & brand new.
The fog light covers/bezel is missing
The head lights are still pointing down 20 feet in front of vehicle making it unsafe to drive. They just ignored this completely.
The bumper is not aligned to headlights with one side having a bigger gap than other.
The undercarriage panels are miss-aligned. I suppose they did not bother replacing the bent brackets holding such panels.

The shop Caliber Collision, claiming being best in industry and Mercury just bombed the job completely.
Here is the 'damaged' fruit of their labor considered "COMPLETE". What a joke & all per Mercury's recommendations.




Missing bezel and fogged up brand new 'water tight' lights.

Majestic undercarriage protection panel mis alignment. Far far far worse than with original panels I had until 150,000 miles.


I drove to Caliber, expected to pick up vehicle, then notified of missing bezels/OEM parts and drove back to OC and kept rental until they fix it right, while figuring out what to do about paint situation w/ Mercury. Then I was notified by Mercury the car is indeed "COMPLETE" and I have to pick it up and return rental. 91 Fwy is some of worst traffic on planet and I wasted literally all day on it getting yanked back and forth by Insurance / Collision Repair Facility. Total nightmare.

At this point I actually want to summon the hive mind of the M5Board to find the best BMW repair shop in Orange County and best independent inspector, which is where I want to take the car. Upon inspection I want to get the paperwork of the short comings and submit it with a lawyer to file suit. I have some lawyers in mind but maybe you guys know some really nasty ones that can make Caliber and Mercury bend over and take it so hard that they'll be walking like cowboys for months for negligence and wasting my time & lost wages, etc. I want to get nasty with them.

So in essence, tomorrow is inspection and filing case time.. I want to pin these guys to the wall and make them listen by any means imaginary. I know the common Man has no voice in America, especially not against large corporations like this. The only approach is inflict even more financial damage on them and repatriate what I am entitled to, that is the only language they listen to.

I've lost more than 2 weeks of my trip already, sitting in limbo in LA waiting for things to get fixed.. now I have to spend more time fixing the negligence issues.
Paying the deductible at Caliber Collision body shop when picking up the car in this shape, was insulting, to say the least.

After bending Mercury over and sending them all the way back to Stonage or Mars, I will try again. I am too deep in on this to quit now.
(Inter)Transcontinental drive incoming once all systems operational!!!!!
 

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Wow. I can't offer any advice, but I can offer some sympathy. Do you still have hopes of doing your Europe tour with the vehicle, or is the deadline for that slipping?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Wow. I can't offer any advice, but I can offer some sympathy. Do you still have hopes of doing your Europe tour with the vehicle, or is the deadline for that slipping?
I am too deep in.. I think this must and will happen. Time is slipping- that is the biggest of frustrations.
I must bring car back to it's natural habitat- The Autobahn.
 

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Craziness. Sorry for the unwanted detour and hope you get this sorted all out. Just think, Ibiza isn't going anywhere anytime soon ;)
 

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Wow what a s#%ty situation in the first place but also you being dicked around by the insurence and the body shop is just unacceptable. The only thing i can really say is the last picture of the under tray is not out of place because of bent mounting points but rather the peices were layered in the wrong order. The corner peice should be above the center peice.
 

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WOW!!! I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. You didn't mention it, but I wonder if they even checked to make sure the unibody and subframes are square and your alignment front and rear is within spec. Even though our Beasts are fairly stout and well built, it doesn't take much to knock something out of whack; especially when you run over gators. The way the headlights are facing down and the uneven way the bumper cover fits could be from something structural up front being bent down or knocked off kilter, so to speak. When you turn on the headlights, do they try to level out? Is there any movement of the beam pattern as if they are trying level? Just a thought.

I hope you can get this crap with the shop and the insurance company straightened out and I wish you well on your trip. Two big "thumbs up" for following your heart and making the trip. I hope to drive to New Finland within a couple years. You've given me the inspiration to keep planning. And, then doing.

Keep us posted and Good Luck. And even more Good Luck once you get back on your way.
 

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Sorry for your troubles OP, hope things get resolved quickly!



On a side note could you go into detail on the overseas shipping? How much was it? Do you have a rough idea regarding the paperwork and getting the car approved for road travel over there? I go every summer to Europe and it would a dream of mine to bring my own car to drive instead of a dinky rental!
 

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Dude, the black cat in 1st picture tells all. hiha The moment I read about the insurance adjuster recommending a shop, a red flag went up. Hope you get back on the road soon, the cross Atlantic journey will be Epic!
 

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What a bummer! I was hoping after every paragraph that I would read, that the cross country trip ensues!

I wish you all the best and when this trip does go down, please document it and post it on here! It is a dream of mine, and can only love vicariously through you haha
 

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I hated reading the tyre and insurance ordeal. Sorry man. Hoping you can still pull off a memorable trip with your beast.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
First of all everyone thanks for the GOOD supportive words!



Sorry for your troubles OP, hope things get resolved quickly!

On a side note could you go into detail on the overseas shipping? How much was it? Do you have a rough idea regarding the paperwork and getting the car approved for road travel over there? I go every summer to Europe and it would a dream of mine to bring my own car to drive instead of a dinky rental!

Overseas shipping- if you are in Texas it is probably easier to ship from Houston than NYC. From West Coast it takes 2x as long, at least.
Shipping gets a little tricky, but here are the best options IMO.

For containers-
They put your car in single or consolidated container (sharing with other goods/cars).
I got the best rates from Eimskip and Atlantic Express Corp.
Eimskip is Icelandic and Atlantic Express are Lithuanian. The Lithuanians do it real good, rates near impossible to beat and fast schedules, they have offices in every major port city.

The ships stop at each port on the way in, and I believe Gothernburg, Sweden is one of the first stopping locations, then Rotterdam and Antwerp, Belgium.

New York to Klaipeda, Lithuania or Bremerhaven, Germany is about $750 with Atlantic Express.
The $750 means likely they will fit 3 cars in the container, lifting one car's nose above another car's hood. Sounds crazy but they do this all the time and apparently is not as bad as it sounds. I probably will pay extra to have 4 wheels on the ground, I'll decide that when I get to the freight forwarding warehouse/loading-bay. Atlantic Express does a lot of volume and that's good and bad, maybe less personal attention but rates are better since they don't have to run a big margin to stay in business.

Expect about $250 USD to $500 USD for container 'unloading charges' on the other end at receiving freight forwarder. I've been quoted up to ridiculous $1000+ USD for just unloading container, which was more than container transport across the ocean itself (This was Antwerp, Belgium). Then you want to get insurance which goes for about 1.5% of insured value.

Eimskip ships from Portland, Maine and they wanted about $2000 for a 40 foot container to Rotterdam, which fits two cars so that's a great deal, and that's the quote for delivered and unloaded with car and keys in hand.

For Ro-Ro (Roll on, roll off) you'd use Wallenius Willhemsen. This is what BMW uses where they drive the car onto the car carrier ship and park it there and then drive off. Catch is you can't leave anything in the car and it usually is little more expensive than container. Time wise it is a little slower than Atlantic Express or Eimskip container shipment. Not sure why, but I'm sure the devil is in the details. Cost is similar to container or a little higher. Unloading charges at other side apply too. Make sure they state if 'other side' is covered in their quote or not, because many might low-ball quote while skipping essential costs that can not be skipped on other side.

At arrival in Germany there's a catch because they want a deposit of 30% of Car's value at port to German authorities as 'insurance' to cover VAT, and once you ship car back to USA you get the money back. The exception here is you are German citizen and then you are exempt if you have owned vehicle for more than 6 months (or similar) and is personal vehicle you are importing back because you are moving back.

Actually all Europe has a law stating that EU citizens are tax exempt-
EU customs relief system
But Germany still wants deposit from EU citizen (just not German citizen).
The laws in countries such as Belgium and Netherlands are also muddy in regards to this import tax deposit issue since I could not get an even consensus on what the exact laws are in regards to importing vehicle. Everyone says something else and makes it very confusing. I asked maybe 10 people.

I chose (before cancelling) to ship my car to Riga, Latvia with Latvian American Shipping Line (LASL). This was because the customs were cheaper easier in Latvia and it is a day and $100 on a ferry to Stockholm, Sweden to ship my car. I have some relatives there so its a good check point and relatively fast - 24 days from NYC to Riga, vs 60 days from LA to anywhere Europe. That was going for about $1300.

Insurance wise in Latvia I'd have to pay 3x premium per month because car is out of country registration, but considering monthly premium is $40-50 for an M5 full coverage I have no issue with 3x after California's insurance premiums.
You can arrange insurance in Germany, and some port forwards have options to arrange this for you in location in Bremerhaven. One can have the car there for up to 6 months with US plates (most stated length of time.

Count on about putting aside $2000 (regardless) for shipping one way with insurance and unloading charges unless you go with Atlantic Express and skip insurance. Then depending on where you're shipping to be prepared with tax deposit...it indeed is bigger hassle to bring US car to Europe than European car to US.
 

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Terabass, your first part of the story was awesome and I was mentally ready to read details/pics of your overseas trip but then it slowly turned into a mess :(

I hope for your sake (and ours) that you get the beast repaired that way you can be on your way, let's hope the lawyers can get you some reparation for all the grief the insurance/body shop caused!
 

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Ugg...sorry to see that mishap.

Look familiar?



I had a lot of damage to the radiator and components, as well as much of the underbody parts. The other side was worse. Truck bedliner....


Hey, good luck on your 'walkabout'!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Any more updates OP?
I haven't done much since this write up. I'll be heading to pick up some paint @ San Diego today since its custom and then find a good body shop in area to have the car repaired at.

Ugg...sorry to see that mishap.

Look familiar?



I had a lot of damage to the radiator and components, as well as much of the underbody parts. The other side was worse. Truck bedliner....
Hey, good luck on your 'walkabout'!
Oh gawd!!!!!!! ARD!! I literally know exactly how that feels. LOL.

I have been holding all the frustration in and now speaking about it feels better, seems like the steam blew off and got the energy to go keep hunting better body shops to go do repair(s) at and get this fixed right.
 

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I've had my fair share of blowouts too. Its sort of a chain reaction that happens, one truck blows out a tire due to the heat and poor road conditions, often a semitruck with steel belted radials. The steel belts act sort of like nails so the next tire which is already fatigued, so you'll get these spots where there are 10-15 blowouts concentrated in one area.

Hopefully you continue the trip, sounds like a cool little adventure... also, I cant believe they let you sit in the car while being towed. I've even asked about that before and they've never let me. I guess its because you had so many people they wouldn't fit in the tow truck.
 
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