Tip #7 – Soft Ground

Two days ago I was talking to a tow truck driver about his volume of calls this time of year. He said, a common call he receives in early spring is from homeowners who get stuck in their own yards.

I had a keen interest in what he was saying because, at the time, I was one of his statistics. Let me tell you how it happened.

I had just picked up my wife from work and was approaching our driveway when I spotted a number of trash objects which had accumulated in our yard just beyond the drive. I casually pulled down to where they were lying and eased up beside them. After exiting the car and picking up the trash items, mostly paper things, I returned to the car and instead of backing away and onto the pavement, I decided to loop around and head back toward the garage. Mistake!!

My “co-pilot” remarked as I made my turn, “This might be soft here.” Her words were terribly prophetic! Immediately the car mired down in front. Our Buick has front-wheel drive and is somewhat heavy. After a couple of attempts to “rock the car out,” I quickly gave up.

I think Jane was somewhat surprised that I capitulated after so brief a struggle. Well, we have a tractor in the garage with chains on the wheels. Had I used it to pull us out the back yard would have been cut to ribbons with enough holes to bury all the neighborhood dogs. I decided that was out. Then too, rapidly shifting back and forth is tough on a modern automatic transmission; a bit of an expensive risk.

It looked like a good opportunity to apply Car and Driver Tip #3, “Winching Your Car Out.” But, alas, I was not on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere. I was “on display” about thirty feet from a busy street. My efforts would have brought in neighbor guys and others and we would all have been up to our ears in mud in short order.

Actually, I surprised myself even, at the ease with which I went into the house and called a towing service. When the wrecker arrived he pulled up adjacent to the car and unrolled his winch cable and quickly attached it to the back axle. He made it look surprisingly easy as he hooked the winch in gear and slowly “wound me out.”

As I handed him my credit card, it occurred to me that I could have done worse. I remarked to him: “The only thing more embarrassing than getting stuck in your yard would be to get stuck in your neighbor’s!” He agreed.

So, my driving tip today is simply this: always inspect, on foot, ground that might be soft before pulling into it. Especially avoid pulling the drive wheels over such ground unnecessarily.

Picking up those three pieces of trash cost fifty bucks. I could have walked for them a lot cheaper. And today, my back, feet and legs are sore from shoveling and tramping the holes back into shape for spring mowing. Watch those soft places!

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