Just like at work, the key is to do proper maintenance and things will, for the most part, go smooth. Before I got my trusty CRX the car had seen some rough days for sure. I know a previous owner had damaged the front end and did a piss poor job of fixing it. It has also been repainted at one time but it was an extremely cheap job because it's starting to fail. I have a friend at work telling me to buff it out and wax it but I don't really see the point. To the trained eye it's still going to be a crappy paint job and I'd rather not look at a polished turd as the saying goes.
There are also a bit of engine issues that scream out that she's been abused at one point or another. The timing is off a bit so the car has to have premium or I get detonation. On a car with high compression I can understand it, but this engine shouldn't require more than the cheapest fuel. As I get in deeper and deeper I'm replacing gaskets as I do repairs to stop slow leaks. You know, if I'd have had time to properly search for a car I would have gotten one in better shape to start with but I didn't have the time and the price was right for what I was getting.