Check the interior
Have a good look at the inside of the car which ca reveal obvious issues. A cracked dashboard, missing buttons, a sagging roof liner and worn away seat belts. These are indicators the car has not been looked after. Always be sure to check worn pedals and the airbag light. if it is showing this could indicate the airbag has been deployed but was not put back by a proper authorized person.
If you can smell a mildew smell discolored carpet and problems with the dash light this could be a sign the car has been involved with flood damage and is a car to steer clear of.
Checking under the hood
When looking underneath the bonnet you need to be seeing a fairly clean engine, battery and radiator.
Look for any worn belts and hoses and can leak and cause all sorts of problems.
Wet spots anywhere under the hood could indicate something is leaking this goes for underneath the car as well. If there is any sign of melted hoses or lines this is often a sign the car has once before overheated. Checking the engine oil is simple with a cool engine and you are looking for a brown or black color unless it was recently changed. If the oil feels gritty between your fingers this can indicate the oil has not been changed for some time.
Checking the records
research cars that have a reliable reputation. There is also plenty of forums online where you can go in and chat with other car buyers and car enthusiast and ask their opinion. A mechanic is another one you can talk to someone who fixes cars all day everyday will know what car is more reliable and what car models seem to be common in his workplace. Check the records of the car as well if you cannot be supplied with a records book that has been filled out on each regular visit then I wouldn’t be buying the car. You want a car that has a log book, so you can see the car has had its service each time it was needed and a list of any repairs that have previously been carried out.
When the car is idling sit in the driver’s seat and turn the wheel to both sides. If there appears to be some slack or noises that don’t seem like they should be there this could indicate a problem.
If you have excess give, then you could be looking at a worn steering gear. On the road the car shouldn’t wander too far away. If the steering wheel seems to shake it can mean you need a wheel alignment which is easy and fairly cheap most cars need these a couple of times in their life, this does not indicate anything is majorly wrong with the car. If you are getting excessive shaking this could be linked to the frame or the suspension which is where the costs in repairs just jump.
Just checking these few things can help you to understand whether the car you are looking at is wrecked and just a car that is going to cost you more in repairs.