Today my wife was on a local suburban road when a fire truck came racing up from behind. Being a good citizen, she started to pull over, but realized that this short stretch of road had zero shoulder and a 2’ deep drainage gully in the way. So she aimed for the next driveway, but cut it short due to visibility (driving a big-ass car and being barely over five feet tall don’t help).
So naturally the van ended up high-centered, resting between the front wheels, and with the left rear tire in the air. I was 5 minutes away and raced over to check it out. I immediately assumed we’d be looking at a new oil pan, maybe some exhaust work, hopefully not a fully tranny... My mind was racing about how many low-hanging bits the Odyssey had underneath its modest ground clearance. A visual inspection showed the car resting on the front of the exhaust, among other things.
We contemplated a quick self-rescue with my car and a tow strap, but the police had already been called and had asked for a wrecker. I figured $50-$100 for a professional winch would be worth the cost, especially if something bad happened along the way (like rolling the van into the ditch). The flatbed wrecker showed up about 15 minutes later as we watched half of our neighborhood drive by.
As the tow driver slowly winched the van backwards, I kept listening for the “CRUUUUNNNCH” of a catalytic converter or aluminum oil pan. But it never happened. I immediately ran over to see the fluid on the ground. First, I stuck my hand in it. Feels like water, but might be coolant. Then I tasted it. Tastes like water, too.
Is this just A/C condensation?
I craned my neck under the car and inspected the damage to the asphalt. CV joints in place, oil pan fine, chunks of half-melted asphalt stuck to the exhaust downpipe. But nothing seemed wrong. As the tow driver came over to take a look, he pointed to a perfect ½” deep notch in the road’s white stripe (bottom of the pic below). “Your front tow loop caught the car.”
That’s right – a tiny little loop of steel attached to the subframe kept the van from collapsing onto the exhaust, oil pan, and transmission, in that order. It also probably saved the entire front bumper and fascia from being torn off.
And just for that, I’m getting one of those bright yellow “TOW” decals that all the track bros have on their car bumpers. Because that tow loop is now a certified badass.