Historically Helpful: How To Push-Start Your Car*

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How to Push Start Your Car

It was once possible–and relatively common–to push-start cars with automatic transmissions.

Back in the “good ol’ days,” push-starting a car was a fairly common occurrence. In fact, the skills necessary to push-start a manual-transmission automobile were once considered common knowledge. Interestingly, “Money Saving Facts for Car Owners,” a handy informational booklet/DIY guide that was published around 1960 by Allstate Insurance, doesn’t even cover the process for manual-transmission cars, the authors presumably assuming that everyone knew how to do that. Instead, a handy chart in the booklet (which we’ve excerpted below) covers only the details of push-starting cars with automatic (and semi-automatic) transmissions.

Allstate Auto Booklet, How to Push Start Your Car

The station wagon in the cover illustration of Allstate Insurance’s “Money-Saving Facts for Car Owners” appears to be inspired by a 1959 Edsel Villager.

For the record, this author–who worked as a mechanic for several years–was unaware that vehicles with automatic transmissions could be push-started until he read this booklet. Live and learn. Better yet–and far more interesting–is that the process outlined in the chart apparently requires that the car with the dead battery be pushed up to speed by another vehicle.

As for the asterisk in our title–the editors of Consumer Guide absolutely do NOT recommend attempting this procedure with any car built in the last 50 years. That said, we’re saddened that motorists with the energy and moxie to push one car with another to get it started are few and far between; it’s so much easier to buy a new battery.

For more from the Allstate “Money Saving Facts” booklet, check out these CG Daily Drive posts:

Historically Helpful: A Car-Care Quiz From 1959

Historically Helpful: Money-Saving Tips From 1959

And, if you’ve ever attempted to push-start a car with another car, by all means tell us about it. The place to leave comments is down below.

How To Push-Start Your Car

How To Jump Start Your Car

And, it’s just that easy. The most amazing thing is that this seemingly dangerous advice comes courtesy of an insurance company.

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