Buying a used vehicle takes time. You don't want to jump into the decision lightly. After all, you are spending money that you worked hard for on something that you expect to last for a decent amount of time. Because of this, you want to spend some time going through and checking a few things out to make sure you make the right decision for your needs.
First, check to see if the radiator fluid is full in both the tank and the overflow tube. If the fluid is low, it might signal a problem with the radiator. Whether it be a crack in the radiator itself or a leak in the hose, you need to make sure what it is that you are dealing with right from the start. Next, check the color of the fluid. Most fluid is a green color, but some vehicles have red coolant in them. Either way, the fluid shouldn't be discolored or appear to have something in it.
Check all of the different switches in the vehicle. Do the wipers work? Is the radio working like it should? Does the heater and air conditioning system work? Test out all of the extras that you can think of to determine whether something is going to need to be replaced or not. This will tell you if you are stepping into something that you can drive away in and enjoy or if you have to invest in fixing some of the extras that you might need.
Go through and look at the engine for signs of oil leaking on top of it. If there is a bunch of oil on the engine, you might have to replace the seals to prevent any major problems. You also want to check the fluid to see if it is the right color. It should be a lighter brown color. If it appears murky or burnt, you might be dealing with a major problem that has to be addressed to prevent additional problems.
When you take the vehicle for a test drive, find a hill where you can test out the emergency brake. Push the brake pedal down and see if the vehicle is able to hold properly. If the brake doesn't hold, you will want to make sure that it is replaced as soon as possible. You never know when you might need to use that brake to make an emergency stop because of brake failure.
By checking into the four things above, you can make sure you are safe and you get a vehicle that is worth the money you spent on it. Additionally, feel free to have a potential purchase checked out at an auto repair shop for more help.