According to the AAA (hardly an anti-car organization!), one-fourth of American drivers are unable to keep their cars in good repair, due to the economy.
Are those vehicles prowling the streets with defects that could affect safety? It's a sobering thought. (On the bright side, it's fairly rare to hear about an accident caused by mechanical failure. In most situations, the failure is the brain operating the vehicle - you know, the one behind the steering wheel.)
I can identify with those expensive fixes, though! Back in the day, a competent, mechanically-minded person could do many of his own repairs. But nowadays you open the hood and can't even see the motor... and unless you have a computer that talks to the car's computer... fuggeddaboudit!
I found an easy solution to car repairs - DITCH THE CAR! Even if you can only cut your driving in half, your car should go for twice as long between fixes.