car finders, consumer reports

It has been so fun to see Carman develop and pursue his interest in cars (hence the screen-name, Carman.) On his own, he's doing real research and developing his own conclusions.

His interest began when he was a wee tyke with matchbox cars. As he grew and learned to read, he'd notice what types of cars passed us on the roads. Before long, he could call makes and models long before any letters were in sight.

Not long ago, he got the Consumer Reports Used Car Buying Guide. We knew he would enjoy it, but didn't realize that he would STUDY it. He likes to pick up the free Car Finder magazines outside the grocery store, check out the cars available, look up the cars in the buying guide, make lists, rank them....It's quite a routine. And it really lights his fire.

Now when he spots a car coming, he can generally not only name the make and model but the production year as well. (You can tell the production year by the headlights, he tells me.)

One nugget he has learned from poring over the CR Buying Guide is that when a car goes through a redesign (like the Nissan Quest did in 2004), the auto's reliability goes down for a year or two, then slowly comes up as the company works out the bugs. He says he sees this over and over with all makes and models - even Honda's Odyssey. (I pay close attention to the van reviews.) The cool new designs and features come with a price of lowered reliability.

His advice: If you're concerned about reliability, avoid the first year re-designed models. - milkmaid