Buy a new car, like a Kia or something on the lower end of the cost spectrum, and get a good warranty as part of the sale package. (The warranty is not the same as insurance.) When it comes time for the warranty to expire, trade it in for a newer model. There is nothing worse than being stuck with an older car that is constantly in the shop, running weird, breaking down, and not reliable. Even when it is running right, you'll always feel like something could go wrong with it at ay moment. It's not worth the stress.
Have someone go with you and test drive the car on their own.
Open the hood and check for any leaks, rust, etc.
And don't get an older Chrysler Pacifica, they have some subframe rusting which can get expensive