TOM: OK, car fans. This is it. The final chapter in the seemingly unending saga of the Click and Clack 10 Best Cars of 1990. Today we have the final five runners-up.

RAY: In case you haven't been clipping our columns and framing them, these are the cars we have named the 10 Best of 1990:TOM: The Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager, the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable, the Toyota Camry V-6, the Mazda Miata, the Jaguar XJS V-12 Convertible (dark blue), the Ford Explorer, the Ford Thunderbird, the Nissan Sentra, the Lexus LS-400 and the Infiniti Q-45.

RAY: Our runners-up have included the Mazda MPV, the Toyota Previa, the Honda Accord, the Volkswagen Passat, the BMW 535i and the Nissan Maxima.

TOM: Here are the rest of the runners-up.


TOM: Finally, a great-handling American luxury car that doesn't need assistance from a tugboat to get it into a parking space.


TOM: A great-handling, great-looking performance car from Alfa. The 164's price is in the high $20s, but it looks, feels and handles like a car that costs $10,000 more. It also had the second most awesome dashboard illumination of any car on the market (Lexus' 3-D scheme is No. 1).


TOM: People who drive Volvos love them. They're sturdy, solid, stodgy, safe, spacious sedans. Also great to have in case a monster-truck tries to run you over.


RAY: Talk about fun! If you've ever wondered what it would have been like to be IN those Tonka toys that you used to push up the leg of the table and down the side of the couch, this is it!

TOM: This is a real four-wheel-drive vehicle. It even comes with an optional Rhino-Repulsion Package. All it needs is a bigger, more up-to-date engine.


RAY: If we had been choosing 1990's 10 Best Cars AND Trucks, the F-150 definitely would have made the top 10. Since we limited ourselves to cars, we're naming it a runner-up.

TOM: The Ford F-150 is the best pickup truck on the market. It's a great vehicle, even if you don't have anything to pick up.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a 1983 Nissan Maxima that has 58,000 miles and four original shock absorbers. Recently, I took the car to a tire shop to replacethe two front tires, which were badly and unevenly worn. The mechanic strongly suggested that I replace all four shocks due to the uneven wear on the tires. Should I replace the shocks? - Hai

TOM: Hi, Hai. It's very likely that you do need new shocks. If not all four, than at least two in front. Original equipment shocks rarely last 58,000 miles. And bad shocks CAN and WILL cause the tires to wear unevenly.

RAY: In fact, how the tire is wearing out can often tell you what's wrong with the car. If the tires are "cupped" (if they have scalloped edges), that generally means that the shocks are shot. When shocks go bad, the car bounces off the ground a lot more than it should. Each time it comes down and hits the ground, a little bit of the tire gets chewed up.

TOM: But if the tires are worn out on either the inside or outside edge, that suggests the car is out of alignment.

RAY: But it could be something more dangerous than shocks or alignment. A car this age could need ball joints, tie rod ends, a new air freshener or any number of things. So take the bad front tires as a warning to have the entire front end checked out. If you're lucky, $500 worth of shocks and tires are all you'll need.

Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack Talk Cars in care of King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.