How to bring car to a stop from the pas­sen­ger seat

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Puzzles - BY RAY MAGLIOZZI

Dear Car Talk: What can a pas­sen­ger do to bring a car safely to a stop if the driver should die while driv­ing the car on a high­way?

My wife sits in the pas­sen­ger seat. She can­not drive or safely move from her seat with­out help. But she can reach the ig­ni­tion key, steer­ing wheel and con­sole gearshift with her left hand.

We are blessed with a care­fully main­tained 2010 Toy­ota Venza, and my me­chanic (may he live for­ever, or at least un­til I’m gone) looked at me in pro­found won­der­ment and said — with­out ex­ple­tives — “Where did THAT ques­tion come from?”

It wor­ries me. What do you sug­gest Bar­bara do if I have a “med­i­cal event” while driv­ing? — John

Well, first she should call her boyfriend and tell him the coast is clear.

Ac­tu­ally, John, it is an un­pleas­ant thing to think about, but there are things Bar­bara can do in such an emer­gency.

Let’s say you’re driv­ing, and you sud­denly choke on a beef jerky at 65 mph. We don’t know the de­tails. Is your foot still on the gas? Are you using cruise con­trol? Are you slumped onto the steer­ing wheel?

Let’s say all of those are true. What Bar­bara wants to do is avoid driv­ing off the road, or into a bridge abut­ment. So, the first step is to grab the wheel and keep the car go­ing straight. Next, she has to get the car to stop ac­cel­er­at­ing. She’ll do that by putting the car in neu­tral. Whether your foot is on the gas or the cruise con­trol is set, shift­ing into neu­tral will cause the car to coast to a stop.

You can have her prac­tice putting the car in neu­tral a few times while you’re driv­ing. Just don’t prac­tice slump­ing over. She won’t find that funny.

Once she has the car in neu­tral, she’ll want to steer the car out of harm’s way. With her left hand on the wheel, she should be able to slowly edge the car over to the shoul­der of the road.

If she re­ally has her wits about her, show her where the emer­gency flash­ers are, and she can turn those on to alert other cars that you’re not just a lousy driver, John, but there’s an emer­gency.

Once the car is safely on the shoul­der of the road and stopped, or al­most stopped, she can put the car in park and call for help.

Hope­fully, a Heim­lich ma­neu­ver will bring you back so she can look for­ward to do­ing it all over again some­day. ***

Dear Car Talk: We just pur­chased a used 2011 Dodge Grand Car­a­van Ex­press. It came with a DVD, a user guide, tire in­for­ma­tion sup­ple­ment, lemon law book­let and an emis­sions war­ranty brochure. But no owner’s man­ual.

The prob­lem is, the DVD and user guide con­tain much in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing fea­tures avail­able on more lav­ishly op­tioned models, but leave MANY ques­tions re­gard­ing the con­trols, op­er­a­tion and func­tions of­fered by this Ex­press model.

As a many-decade fan of Car Talk, I’m hop­ing you can tell me how to get these ques­tions an­swered. — Greg

The Ex­press was the cheap­est of the Grand Car­a­vans of­fered in 2011, Greg. They called it the Ex­press be­cause they made it so fast, they didn’t have time to put any op­tions in it. In fact, there was also the Su­per Ex­press, which zipped through the as­sem­bly line so fast they didn’t have time to in­stall seats or a steer­ing wheel.

Me­chan­i­cally, the Grand Car­a­vans were all pretty much the same. So, I’m not sure what you’re hav­ing trou­ble fig­ur­ing out.

The cheaper, man­ual con­trols on the Grand Car­a­van Ex­press are usu­ally eas­ier to use, if any­thing, be­cause they’re so ba­sic. Like the twist tie that keeps the hood closed.

But if you need help, I’d sug­gest the last re­sort for car own­ers, Greg: The ac­tual owner’s man­ual.

There’s a web­site called Man­u­als Li­brary (­u­als If you search for “2011 Grand Car­a­van Ex­press owner’s man­ual,” you’ll find the full, 550page tome there.

You can then search and read it on­line, or download it and spend $850 in ink so you can print it out and read it in your easy chair. En­joy. Got a ques­tion about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Fea­tures, 628 Vir­ginia Drive, Or­lando, FL 32803, or email by vis­it­ing the Car Talk web­site at

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