I live out of my car (not literally, but sometimes it feels like it), so wear and tear is inevitable.
Over the last 5+ years:
-new tires (twice)
-automatic seat belt motors failed (driver and passenger side). Considering that it was kind of a dumb design to start, I think the motors died out of mercy for the car's owners.
-exhaust rusts somewhat quickly, but I do live in Upper Michigan where we get 300+ inches of snow per year and a lot of salt on the roads to take care of the ice.
-driver's side seat "snapped" about 6 months ago. Yes, the heavy steel frame of the seat fatigued and snapped. This was most likely due to the fact that I throw myself at the seat 7-20 times a day - living out of this car.
-climate control box has a tendency to melt, usually causing the blower to quit. Easy fix, though.
-brake cylinders were in rough shape when I got the car, a relatively cheap and easy fix, though.
-spark plugs seize to engine block if you don't apply some type of anti-seize when installing them.
-body dents easily.
-ultra heavy doors have worn out the hinge pins and can cause them to bore out the hinge holes, causing the door to drop, and therefore be hard to close.
-water pump went at around 195000 miles (a pretty good record)
It may be ugly as sin, but I have to say that this is one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned. I was looking for a cheap "transition" car after my Buick Century blew up suddenly and, being a college student, needed to save up for the car I really wanted. I looked for something under $800 to drive for 12 months or so, and 5 years later, I still have the Tempo.
The pick-up of the 4 cylinder engine is actually pretty good. I live in a really hilly area, and we get a lot of snow, and this car has given me no trouble getting around.
The best part of this car is the simplicity of the repairs. The engine is easy to work around, the brakes and exhaust were easy to replace. And because so many of these cars were made (practically identically) there is a TON of junkyard parts readily available. Even on the few occasions that I have had to bring it the shop, I've never spent more than $175 (that's parts AND labor).
The gas mileage is great as long as you keep all the bearings and joints lubed (with every oil change, every 3000 miles - seriously, do it or this car will not love you). I'm running an average of 26.5 miles per gallon. It would be higher, but I run a lot of deliveries in town with this car. It would be interesting to find out its current highway MPG.
Though it looks small on the outside, the car is actually pretty roomy inside, and least my two-door version is. Just got done with a 1400 Thanksgiving trip to see family, and it was safe, reliable, comfortable, and chugged along without a hitch.
All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better car.