The other day, I answered a distress call. It was my daughter-in-law. It seems that she accidentally left the lights on in her Toyota and it refused to start. Luckily, I had a pair of jumper cables in my back seat for just such an occasion, so I could oblige.

 A few weeks later, I noticed that my own car wouldn’t respond to the turn of the ignition key. There was not even the subdued click of the solenoid. To add to the mystery, I didn’t leave my lights on. In fact, my lights worked perfectly.

There was only one viable explanation for my misfortune. My car apparently contacted one of those rare but deadly viruses that can only come about through intimate pole-to-pole exchanges of electrical juice.

My car is the innocent victim of unprotected jump starting. As a result, I now need to push my vehicle and pop the clutch to start the engine. I told my sister to keep her car chained up at night. It was probably carousing with unsavory vehicles at all night gas bars.

Push starting vehicles is a skill I perfected since I first got my driver’s license. I even had to push start the car I used for my road test. The inspector was so impressed that he invited me back to redo the test the following week.

I never owned a car that would start on command every time. This qualifies me as somewhat of an expert on the technique of the push start. To negotiate a successful push start, turn the ignition on and shift the transmission into neutral. Push your vehicle to the speed of a brisk walk, then jump in. Put the transmission into second gear and pop the clutch.

This is how a push start is negotiated in theory. In fact, however, there are some severe associated risks. You can herniate yourself. You can miss the driver’s seat on entry and have the car run over you. You can pop the clutch in first gear and force your friend’s hands through the trunk.

Another hazard is thinking you can push start a car that has an automatic transmission. To do this, your brisk walk needs to be about 45 mph. If you can pull this one off, you can have a secure future in the Olympics.

It occurred to me that some students will be returning to school in the fall driving their first vehicles. If I know teenagers, some of the vehicles will be of the type that one has to push to activate. In the interests of preventing havoc on the highway, and promoting safety on the streets, I present three helpful tips to help you shove your way to happy motoring.

1.) Plan your trips.

Issac Newton didn’t need the apple. He could have formulated the law of gravity without getting clobbered if he had a car with a broken starter motor. You quickly learn how to use gravity when you need to push start your car.

The trick is to avoid stopping at the bottoms of hills. With a little planning, you can park at the top of the hill. Try to find hills that are steep enough to get you rolling to the required speed without having to get out to push. Check this out before you begin pushing. It could get away from you. You don’t want to have to pry your car off a fire plug.

 Try to park with a driveway in front of you to avoid being boxed in.

 2.) Watch your step.

 Before you begin your push to take-off velocity, check the runway. You need to be sure that you won’t stumble and shove your hand through the windshield. The roadway might be filled with hazardous obstacles. Such as the little surprises dogs leave behind. Dogs, who often regard the whole world as their bathroom, can cause you to loose your footing. Worse, when you finally get it started, you need to weather all those comments from your date about your smelly interior.

3.) Showing off.

The proper push start demands a classy finale. You need to come up with a humerous comment to top off your exertion. A well placed remark like, “Geronimo!” can help lessen that throbbing pain from that newly aquired hernia. It’s also a good one to give to the cop as he writes you a citation for pushing your car across the Oak Street Bridge.


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