Asked how to choose a good mechanic, Tyler Cowen responds that you should buy a Honda or a Toyota and you probably won't need a mechanic to do anything beyond the super-routine. I've never owned a car, but in second-hand anecdotal terms that definitely seems to be the case -- folks who own Hondas or Toyotas, even pretty cheap ones, rarely have problems whereas American cars are plagued with reliability issues. This often strikes me as an under-analyzed element in the saga of American deindustrialization; maybe it's not even true that American durable goods are far less reliable than Japanese brands, but it's certainly what a lot of people think.
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