Like a movie freeze-frame that takes you back in time to some important moment prior to the event actually happening... we will now do the same.|
All vehicles sold in the United States (and pretty much all of the world) with manual transmissions will have a safety switch preventing the vehicle from starting if the clutch is not depressed. This prevents someone from attempting to start the vehicle while in gear causing the vehicle to launch forward, or worse yet, the vehicle starts to drive away.
This safety switch can be a real pain in the rear at times. Particularly when you're wheeling in some precarious position and stall the vehicle. As you sit there evaluating the situation, and you don't dare let up on the brake pedal, you're not sweating because you previously inserted (as I had) a 20 amp fuse in the Auto Trans slot of your Jeep's fuse box. If you're not familiar with this mod, inserting a 20 amp fuse into the Auto Trans slot will override the clutch safety switch. Having the switch override in place, you can restart the engine in gear and cleanly drive out of that precarious wheeling situation.
We now release the freeze-frame image of Moab Man entering the Jeep.
Throwing my right leg up and into the Jeep, grasping the roll bar with my left hand, I started to hop into the Jeep. At this same moment that my body is mid-air to reaching the seat, my daughter inserts the key into the ignition and starts the Jeep in gear. Of course the Jeep fires right up and launches forward in the Wal-mart parking lot traveling under its own power. My body being in mid-air, slams into the door frame of the Jeep. At this moment in time I realized two things, taking a door latch square between the ribs really hurts, and second, the large turning rear tire is uncomfortably close when your falling out of the Jeep and your leg is dangling in front of it.
Doing my best rag doll impression, I scrambled to get into the drivers seat to avoid being run over for the second time in my life. Yeah, I said for the second time.
Once I was in the drivers seat, things didn't look any better. I had lucked out in the fact that no vehicle was parked in the the slot directly in front of my Jeep, but when I had parked the vehicle my tire was slightly turned to the passenger side. Like a heavy duty can opener, my front bumper was heading right for the windshield of a nearby little car.
The good news is "close" still only applies to hand grenades, as I was able to get the Jeep
stopped within one foot of cleanly pealing the top off the Honda with my Jeep.
While I have never been so mentally defective as to need a sticker, on that day I was a sticker victim and will be removing the 20 amp fuse and leaving it out UNTIL the times I need that safety switch override for off-roading.
Here at MOABJEEPER Magazine we like to tell both sides of the story. So it is now my turn, Dr. Jones, to tell how the sticker did apply to me when the Jackalopes attacked.
My story begins on a warm clear morning. I was heading out the door early on my way to Moab for the Easter Jeep Safari. I could tell this was going to be a good year. The Jeep was in pristine working order, I had packed everything, and I got a nice early start. Surely I couldn't really be this lucky. Well.... I wasn't.
The perfect trip lasted all of 2.75 miles, which happens to be about the distance to the freeway on-ramp. At that moment I realized something didn't smell right. I pulled over and confirmed the water pump died and was bleeding out all over the ground around me. I somehow managed to get the Jeep back home under its own power. A quick trip to the parts store (in my wife's car) and I had the water pump in hand. Fortunately, on a TJ this is a pretty easy parts swap. Good thing since I was now getting calls every 5 minutes from Moab Man wondering why I hadn't left home yet and if I was going to make the meeting in Moab that afternoon.
Working at a, if I may say so, mind-blowing pace; I had the water pump changed in a time any Formula 1 pit crew would have been proud of. I topped off the radiator with coolant and ran around to the driver's side, at the same time pushing the ignore button on another of Moab Man's calls. I reached in through the open window and turned the key to start the engine. I think you can all guess where this is going...
The very millisecond I turned the key, I realized the Jeep was still in gear. I immediately let go of the key, but it was too late. The one time in that TJ's life it decides to start on the first crank, had to be the morning of my now less-than-perfect Moab trip. The engine immediately roared to life, and the Jeep lurched forward. I responded quickly and leaped forward chasing after it... at least that's what would have happened if the rear tire wasn't on top of my right foot. Instead what really happened was me falling flat on my rear end furiously scooting away from a still moving rear tire once it finished its trip over my foot. Powerless to pursue the Jeep now traveling up the driveway, all I could do was watch it stop itself by running square into the corner of the garage. A little shaken, I assured my wife everything was "normal" and set off for Moab knowing the Jakelopes bit me early this year; so the rest of the trip would NOW be perfect.
So yes... the "don't start your Jeep in gear, stupid" sticker is for me. And yes, I have since pulled the fuse to keep that from happening again.