1) Keep on top of your maintenance
Change the oil every 3500-4000 miles
Check the oil every time you fill up
for automatics - drain and fill the ATF every 15k miles and change the filter every 4th time
2) When the CEL comes on - diagnose and fix it ASAP
3) spray fluid film or corrosion X-HD in every nook and cranny, seem, and exposed metal underneath the car - every other oil change
My commute isn't very long and the wife says we aren't allowed to take it on any long trips due to how rough it rides, how its broken down in the past, it's mostly rust, etc. Women and their grudges, amirite?
Plus I just bought this for our roadtripping. 2003 jetta tdi, manual.