Each case needs to be analysed in a case by case scenario. Normally (90% of the time) driving a used car is cheaper than buying new.
I had a Dodge Daytona 88 that I bought for $1150, in 4 months I spent about $3500 in repairs (blown head gasket, injectors and other repairs).
It was a clear title, but could it be possible that it was salvage at some time?…hence the cheap price of $1150.
In my evaluation it cost more to repair than car payments would have cost.
On the other hand right now I have a suzuki samurai 88 that I’ve spent $350 in 1.5 years that I’ve had it.
I think like you mentioned the key to driving inexpensively depends on problems you can forsee. If you notice you are leaking oil from the transmission and know it will be a costly repair, sell the car for whatever you can get for it and but another used car that you can’t find any major problems with. Because I don’t mind changing an alternator but the moment I have to take it to the shop for something big=financial ruin.
What have your experiences been with reliable vehicles?
So far the worst luck I’ve had with vehicles are with Chryslers, and the best with Nissan, Mazda and Toyota’s.