Great quote from Steve Lange about buying a new car, vs. fixing a used ride:
My heartfelt advice is to stop drinking the media supplied Kool-Aid, buy a tool kit and a Hayne’s manual, and start to get to know the absolute basics of your car. The big money is rarely made on the smartest customers. It is always the most ignorant and fearful that are the juicy prey of the marketplace. At this point you’re being a squeaky mouse in a den full of recession hungry boas.
Educate yourself. If you can look at a glass and see it’s half-full, you can easily read the coolant, oil, washer fluid, and brake fluid levels in your car. If you can turn a screw, you can also replace an oil filter, a battery, and nearly anything else on your car that isn’t a computer or wire. Buy a couple of jack stands, a $50 tool kit, a Mityvac, and that Hayne’s manual I mentioned earlier. The Rabbit’s are average in reliability and there’s nothing there that isn’t in 90+% of the cars that have been out there for the past decade.