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Motormouth: Too short to drive safely?

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: I was initially excited to see a recent question posed by a short female driver until I realized her concern was about reaching her trunk hatch rather than about the injury that we shorties face if our airbags inflate. My feet don't reach the pedals if I push my seat back to provide the recommended 10 inches for safety. Any recommendations for this? My life may depend on your answer!

G.T., Glastonbury, Connecticut

A: You can install pedal extenders. They cost about $100, and a competent do-it-yourselfer or local repair shop can easily install them. Drive safely.

Q: The manual for my 2012 Honda Accord says the fuel tank capacity is 18.5 U.S. gallons, yet when I fill up, I can put in 21.5 gallons. The pipe can't possibly hold 3 gallons. What gives?

S.B., Chicago

A: Carmakers calculate in a fudge factor for various reasons such as leaving room for expansion on hot days, parking on a steep incline, cooling the submersed fuel pump and so on. You should stop pumping gas when the automatic nozzle shuts off. If you overfill, you risk putting liquid fuel into the emissions control vapor storage canister. Replacing it costs you extra.

Q: We are expecting delivery of our hybrid Toyota Cross soon and looking forward to our first much more eco-friendly vehicle. We frequently use a plug-in cooler when out and about. We never leave it plugged in when the ignition is off. Do you recommend we stop using an accessory such as this when we start using our hybrid vehicle? We don't want to do anything to muck up the electrical system. We'd definitely go back to blue ice packs right away before doing that!

S.D, Lombard, Illinois


A: The auxiliary outlet is to be used for 120-volt AC items. Just don’t exceed the maximum wattage rating. There are markings indicating the maximum wattage.

Q: I have a 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan that is in fairly good condition. It has a built-in CD player, and the disk will not eject. I don’t want to ruin anything, but it is boring listening to the same music all the time. Any suggestion that you might have would be greatly appreciated.

R.L., Las Vegas

A: There are several hacks to remove the CD. Slip something thin like a butter knife or, better yet, a plastic butter knife over the disk and push down ever so slightly while pushing the eject button. My favorite, however, is an oldie but goodie. Use needle nose pliers or tweezers to gently tug on the disk while pushing the eject button. Is the stuck disc a mix of your favorite oldies but goodies? Getting stuck is common with homemade copies that have stick-on labels making the disc too thick.

Q: I know you have let folks know that the garage door remote button in their car may allow someone breaking into the car to also gain access to their home. (My 2016 Toyota Highlander will open the garage door even if the key is not in it). To alleviate this possibility, I installed a "smart plug" into the receptacle that powers the opener. I turn that outlet off at night with my phone and back on in the morning. They are very inexpensive. You might want to suggest that option to your readers.

S.C., Suffolk, Virginia

A: Dang! I have a couple smart plugs on my shelf and never thought about using them to primarily switch something off.

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