As you may remember, my dh is a banker and I swear, numbers run through his head constantly. My now ex-bil was trying to justify a new car purchase (which they could not afford - they declared bankruptcy twice in thier almost 20 year marriage)because the car they had kept having to be repaired. Yes, it was a hassle, but no matter how dh ran the numbers, fixing the old car ($4000) was still cheaper than buying a new one ($30,000).
This being said, I grew up in a family that drove old, beat up cars. My parents paid cash and that was all they could afford because that was all the money they could scrape together. I never knew from week to week if either car would start. I can't tell you how many times I had to find another way to work in high school, or left the mall and the car wouldn't start. It was the biggest pain in the a$$ EVER! So I understand your wanting to buy a reliable vehicle since the one you have may go caput at any time. And considering where you live, that is an extra hassle.