The first car I ever owned was a white 92 Ford Escort. I bought it used in 1994 freshly graduated from college. I needed something to drive to and from my job as a truck driver with a whole sale flower delivery company. The car was great for this task.
I made sure to change my oil every 3,000 miles but I did not give it regular maintenance checks. Usually I waited for a part to fail before I took it in to get fixed. I did not have a great deal of disposable wealth at the time so I did not make regular maintenance checks a priority. This, however, is not something I would recommend to anyone thinking of buying a used car because regular maintenance checks can prevent small problems from developing into larger and potentially more expensive or dangerous problems down the road. Luckily I emerged from the experience unscathed.
The car actually lasted a long time. I drove across the country twice in it. It finally died in 2001. I had taken my dog to a state park for a walk in the woods that day. I remember driving 70 miles per hour on the interstate to get to and from the park. That night I arrived home and parked my car on an inclined street in front of my house. I made sure to turn the wheel into the curb so that it would not roll down the hill unexpectedly. The next day I came out to the car to see one front wheel pointed towards the curb but the other pointed straight. The tie rod had broken. Luckily this happened after I arrived safely home with my dog. I shudder to think what could happen if the tie rod broke on the highway at 70 miles per hour.
I was lucky, but it could have easily been different. All this is to emphasize the importance of regular maintenance checks. When you buy a new car from a dealer it is usually easier to set these maintenance appointments up. Used car dealers can be hit or miss with this. A broken tie rod is a relatively inexpensive fix. Flipping a car on the highway at 70 miles per hour will certainly be more expensive.