Implicit in the purchase of a car are the ongoing costs to maintain it. New tired after 60,000 miles, new brakes after 50,000 miles, new shocks after 100,000 miles (and of course every multiple of that). Having just spent close to $600 for new brake pads, rotors and calipers on the front end of my van, while it has 301,000 miles, I wonder, is it worth it? The last time the brakes were repaired was April 2007. Another six and a half years on these brakes is of course more than I am thinking of getting out of the entire van.
In short, keep in mind if you buy a car, new, used, or a junker, repairs happen. The cost to own is more than just the monthly loan payment or the weekly gasoline fill. While $400 for tires every few years or $600 for brakes twice a decade is not very much, and $100 for struts is downright a great deal, these are costs that have to be paid if you want to keep the vehicle.
My advice is when buying a car, ask what work has been done in the last one or two years, or three years as the case may be. For example, buying a five year old car with 60,000 miles that has never really had any repair, sounds like I'm going to get $1000 of replaceable parts to put in it in the next year or so.
Having driven my van since basically January 2007 I can say that the repairs listed above in addition to two $450 oxygen sensor/exhaust leaks repairs are just about all that I have encountered. There have been plenty of oil changes, the radiator fix from the deer hit, the bumper fix from the Chicago accident, and honestly I have parts of the car held together with bolts from Lowe's, zip ties, and green climbing tape. That is 13 repair events I can remember over 6.5 years of operation from about 250,000 to 301,000. With a total cost, excluding oil changes, of about $3100.