On a lot of things, I think the trick is to find the happy medium. Even with my bottom-of-the-line trim level Civic, I never went for the *absolute* cheapest option on most things. Usually, for not too much more, there’s a not-quite-as-cheap-but-definitely-better-quality option.

I’ve got my ancient Benz now, and due to being unemployed for 2+ years, I’m learning what I can & can’t get away with. No, it doesn’t get the Castrol GTX super-special oil my Dad always put in it, but it does get a known name brand full synthetic oil (Usually whatever’s on sale the cheapest.) It doesn’t get only Shell gas, but it still gets premium (required per owner’s manual.) And much as I’d love to put new top-of-the-line Michelins on it again, the next tires will be a well-reviewed set of Kuhmos at about half the total price.

Be realistic about the long-term plan for your car, check reviews, and be particularly careful about anything that would affect the performance.