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Off-Road Driving Tip # 5

Another Argument for a Manual over Automatic Transmission!

Yet another advantage of a Manual Transmission: so let’s say you are at the toilets above the San Juan Chief Stamp Mill on the Ouray side of Engineer Pass (yes this is my actual experience) and you run out of gas, because the gas gauge on the  Old Jeep J-20 tour rig doesn’t work, and the kink in the fuel fill neck (because of how they had to route it through the tour seat bed) kept kicking off the gas nozzle making one think it is full, with a load of people, what do you do?  Kind of a run on sentence but you understand my situation!

Turn the Jeep down hill.

Luckily this Old Jeep J-20 P/U had a manual transmission and a strong battery. You can use the starter motor to move the vehicle if you have a manual transmission. You may have to disconnect, jump, or duct tape the switch on the clutch peddle, that forces you to depress the clutch to turn over the motor. Use your lowest gear or reverse, and give the battery and motor a break rather often as you are working the heck out of both.  But usually you will have enough juice to get the rig heading down hill and coasting, as I did!

Regaining your power.

I was told about this trick from my boss Bernie Kuboski, but this was the first time I ever implemented it. Once you are coasting at a good clip, put the transmission in its highest gear and let out the clutch.  Pick the highest gear so the engine will not really hold you back as to keep coasting, but turning the motor over.

So now everything is working, power steering, power brakes and the alternator is re-charging the battery, if you need it again to get you over a little rise or such.  There is a long flat section when you get to the shelf road section of Engineer, I used the starter plus had a couple guests help push it through that and then made it all the way down to Red Mountain Pass or Highway 550, where it turns out gas was waiting!

Bump Starting Your 4×4 Rig.

The most obvious advantage to a Manual Transmission, in my humble opinion, is to be able to bump start or pull start the 4×4 rig.  I have had batteries not only go dead, but get internal shorts from banging around so much, which then they do not run no matter how long you pull them.  I have also, more times then I want to remember, had starter motors just take a crap.  I have been told, by people I respect (once from Mr. Noble my High School auto shop teacher) that if you can pull an Automatic 4×4 rig fast enough it will turn over the motor.  I only tried once, we got it up to like 45 MPH with no luck.  Nonetheless this wouldn’t really be an option on any of the 4×4 trails in the San Juans, you usually can only go about 10 MPH!

Now don’t get me wrong, if I am driving around town or down the highway I don’t mind a Automatic Transmission, though I have often been let down by them in those situations also, pretty comfortable way to drive.  But if I am doing some serious 4x4ing and Off-Roading I will always pick the tried and true Manual Transmission, if I have a choice!

See Ya in the Hills!
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Type rig that ran out of gas, but got me home!


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