Common parts are pretty readily available (brake pads, filters, suspension components, alts etc.), its when you get certain stuff that commonly fail like the TDC Sensor, Crank Angle Sensor, Igniter unit, etc. that you have a hard time finding them for a reasonable price...
As far as buying one, follow this:
~Have the Timing Belt AND Water Pump been changed?? If not, then take off some cash from the sale price because you will need to pay to have that done asap and it costs about $500-$750 (dont let them know you will be doing the work yourself )
~Any leaks from the valve and side valve covers? Oil Pan gasket? Oil cooler? Oil ANYWHERE? Take off some cash bc you will have to pay to have that fixed D)
~When was the last time the transmission was serviced (if auto)?? This is VERY important...if not recent, or ever, take off even MORE cash OR walk away...if manual, when was the last clutch job, oil change, and clutch fluid flush?
~How are the suspension components? Any creaking from the ball joints or control arms? Any clicking CV joints (easy to test this on the test drive)?
~A/C and heater work properly? Does A/C Condensor fan come on??
~Do both fans come on at appropriate times?
~Any check engine light?? Click the ignition to the II position without starting the car to be SURE that ALL of the lights come on...I have heard of unscrupulous sellers taking out the CEL bulb and the buyer not realizing until months later :nono:
~Any ABS noise? By this time, there are most likely more cars with non-working ABS than working ones......use this to your advantage and take some cash off for that....
~When was the cooling system last flushed and serviced??
~Has the car EVER had a Check Engine Light?? If so, what was the problem and was it solved???
~BE SURE that you get to see the car started for the FIRST TIME in the morning!! This will reveal any funny noises, fuel injector leaks, and valve tick that disappear once shes been warmed up.
Remember to ask WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME XXX WAS DONE?? (Replace XXX with any of the common maintenance stuff that I mentioned above). If they state that they were done, ask to see receipts and records...if proof CANNOT BE PROVIDED, then you need to go on the assumption that they were NOT done....and that should be reflected in the final sales price....
Thats off the top of my head....anyone have anything else to add??