Crusty's Mysterious Brake Lights

Sep 25, 2006

RAY: Someone sent in the seed from which this puzzler grew. I just had to re-obfuscate it.

It was Monday morning and Crusty was up bright and early, and ready for his commute to work. Yesterday hadn't been a particularly good day and he sensed that today might be worse. Hence, the early start.

Crusty carefully backed out of his driveway and drove to the end of his street. He slowed as he approached the stop sign there and of course came to a full stop, before making his way through the intersection. At the next intersection he slowed and stopped for that stop sign as well. Just then he noticed the flashing light of a police light in his rear view mirror, the all too familiar sign to pull over and produce a license and registration. Neither one of which he had, probably. The officer approached, citation book in hand, and Crusty asked, 'Is there a problem, officer?'

'No brake lights,' he says. 'I have followed you since you pulled out of your driveway. I've watched you stop two times at stop signs and I didn't see any brake lights come on.'

Crusty says, 'No way man! My brake lights work just fine. I'll show you.' So he asks the police officer to go and stand by the back of the car.

TOM: And he floors it and takes off!

RAY: And puts it in reverse and runs him over. No, he asks him to go and stand by the back of the car and he steps on the brake pedal, and -

TOM: Let me guess, they work.

RAY: All three of them. The high mounted light. And they come on, just as Crusty had predicted.

The question is, how did he pull this off?
RAY: Crusty didn't pull anything off, really.

TOM: No, he didn't.

RAY: He just stepped on his brake pedal.

TOM: That's right. Because he wasn't stepping on it the other times.

RAY: He was stopping using his emergency brake, which of course, doesn't make the brake lights come on. Had he known he was being followed by the police, he would have used the emergency brake to slow and stop the car, and then he would have stepped on the brake as well. But thinking he wasn't being followed.

Who's our winner?

TOM: The winner this week is Sandy Hashima, from San Diego, California. And for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Sandy is going to get a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at CAR, with which she can get our brand, spanking new CD called, Once Upon A Car Fire, the greatest Car Talk stories ever told. It features stories that we've told on the air.

RAY: All true stories I might add. Like the story of my brother's brief and ill-fated stint in the United States Army for example.

TOM: I remember it well!" "Everyone can go on leave this weekend- except Priiiiivate Maaaagllioooooozi!"

RAY: And of course the story of the great Montreal Hotel fire.

TOM: "Monsieur, this is Henri, the Concierge. Did you used to own a late Model Ford LTD?"

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