While buying the car I had to put it through some tests to make sure it was worthy to be a vehicle of mine. The first test I did was to test the struts. Struts provide the smooth ride and if they aren’t in good shape the car will be bouncing a lot. A way to test the struts is to push down on the bumper and if it recovers right away, then that means the struts are good. If it bounces and then bounces again, that means the struts are most likely shot.
The next thing I checked were the tires to make sure they had enough wear on them along with making sure they weren’t wearing abnormally. This can point to an alignment issue, which is easily fixed. Next I look at the rotors to make sure they are in good shape and aren’t gouged. I check the strut boot to make sure it isn’t cracked and leaking at all.
I check under the hood and make sure there isn’t leaking any fluids, although it being an old car there is still the chance for the small leak. Then I run through all of the electrical to make sure it works. Check paint for dings or cover ups. This can be seen pretty easily. Take it for a test drive and make sure all of the components work along with ensuring that there aren’t any noises. I take a look under the car to check for rust (old habits from car buying in MN) and make sure that the exhaust pipes don’t have leaks/cracks. When you start the car, see if the exhaust is a blue’ish color, this means that the engine is burning oil and could be costly to fix, but at the same time is common in older/high mileage cars.
Check the age of the battery to see if it is the original. Check the brakes while driving to make sure they grab and that they aren’t squishy. Check the car on Edmunds.com to ensure there aren’t any recalls or gotchas about the car that could cause more expenses down the road. Also you’ll be able to get an estimate as to the value of the car.
There are additional items I check, but this is a quick and dirty list for anyone buying a car to add to their check list. I hope this is helpful to anyone who reads this.