Avoid these cars, if u have already bought then u have my condolences u have made a poor choice. By doing a simple Google search u will see that these cars have problems that where solved back in Henry fords time.
The top 5 problems are, car won't start, car won't go faster than 30miles an hour, key is stuck and won't turn, water pump/fuel pump and electric windows stop working. What I am about to share in this response will put u and anyone else reading in a good position when buying any car from any year and of any condition.
I am currently driving the 2005 model Hyundai Elantra and it is the automatic version while my own car is being repaired and can tell u that the one I'm using has a problem with the electric windows and currently won't start as it has probably the fuel pump/computer or distributor problem. I have had the car 3 days and on 4th right before I started work it decided it didn't want to ignite. I believe it's highly likely a ECU/Computer issue or the ignition leads/distributor problem.. The reason is I can smell the fuel after having tried to start numerous times engine eventually floods so assume pump is working so that's ruled out so I'm left with the other 2. All I can say is I am thankful I don't own one because from what I've read these cars are a constant problem and expense so hopefully u can avoid this. Best advice to avoid this is pick one of the major brands either Ford, Holden/GM or Toyota etc. and do a simple Google search for common problems for the model and year of paticular brand ur interested In and then make ur decision.
My philosophy is to buy a popular/major brand when u can based on the type of vehicle ur after in this way u will be assured easy access to a wide range of cheap and plentiful replacement parts sold by both, manufacturer and third party companies along with competitively priced repair services. When checking the car for the first time check fluid levels and colours of all fluids, this will indicate either the level at which owner has invested in there commitment to maintaining the car and if the car is in need of some TLC.
First thing to do is start car and test drive so u can check the ease at which it starts along with the clutch and transmission by changing gears and looking for resistance and/or a clunking sound or a burning metal like smell. Also check for oil leaks by looking at the spot where the car lives to see how much it has left if any also remember if it has a view miles on it it probably will leak as every car eventually does u can easily solve either by redoing the seal later on If u are worried by the amount of oil check for a crack in the main engine body and the head gasket u can always use a thicker grade oil to slow down amount of leaked fluid though this will effect ur ability to start especially in colder weather so go up by 5w from what the manufacturer say it recommends normally for the first time.
If u intend on only starting the car u can get an idea of these issues in idle by starting and looking at console at what warning lights activate then sitting a couple of minutes casually changing gears. Also if a paticular light say airbag is flashing constantly look for a pattern and count u might be witnessing the car giving u its era code of it is then this light will not stop blinking until rectified, usually when looking at an era code the light will flash a couple of times then pause then flash again say it went " " " " " " " " " " " " and so on that code is a 5 . 1 code for that paticular model of car on a Ford Probe it is the airbag light and it relates to the manual transaxle but all cars are different a simple Internet search will tell u what it relates to so take ur smart phone.
While in idle u will want to see the fluctuation of the rpm if u get resistance with gears or the other things I mentioned be very wary cause ur about to buy a car that is about to cost u more money and always remember if u buy from a dealer contracts have 7 day cooling off period though "unsure on American consumer law please check first "so even if u miss something or are not confident checking car u can get someone qualified to let u know what they believe the condition of the car is. You could go on forever with checks of the car itself forever but the 3 that I have said will indicate any potential critical problems with the car.
The logbook check is a great indicator of previous issues/money spent/service intervals, basically how much the owner cared for there vehicle.If ur buying privately the rule of the land is buyer beware so either do the 3 major checks along with looking through the logbook and / or take someone u know who u believe knows a bit about cars along, u could always ask ur mechanic if in his free time he would look at it for u and offer a little compensation for his trouble. Always look out for price that is too good to be true, it probably is. If u are concerned about price then the red book / blue book value will give u the real worlds fair replacement cost, this will be the same reference ur insurer uses when giving u the price ur car is covered for. Last but really most important is to check that the Title of the vehicle is free and clear if u r buying the vehicle privately, remembering buyer beware because at the end of the day it is ur responsibility check that the person selling u the vehicle is the registered owner and title holder as this could leave u with a bit of a mess to sought out if thir not, and make sure that no bank or institute is still looking to recover repayments on the vehicle. These checks are easily referenced by going to Google and doing a search, again bring ur smartphone
I would also recommend any top brands flagship model in the paticular type of vehicle u r buying. Remember to do a thorough search on Google for common problems and complaints about the vehicle aswell as what the manufacturer has upgrade from previous model and pick the one u believe is good value. Remember u will be driving this car everyday so make sure u like the way it feels to drive and handle and that it has enough power for u to get up hills or tow boats/trailers, and the way it looks inside and out, don't forget to pay close attention particularly to the drivers console area as this is where ur attention is mainly focused so u might aswell get something u feel has enough buttons and gizmos to keep u happy also a good idea is to check if u intend to install upgrades whether the car has allocated a free space for these if not u can get aftermarket console pieces so it isn't the end of the world just the end between u and some cash.
Lastly the one thing I forgot was the amount of miles/kilometres the vehicle has done as engines need time being driven to be developed/broken in an example is that a vehicle with 100, 000 miles might sound like a lot but really that cars engine has probably just started to reach its developed stage, again check logbook for service intervals to gauge condition of car and owners commitment to maintain the vehicle to a standard. There is a lot involved in getting the best and fairest deal. The most probable outcome is that u buy a car with a few gremlins as they all have them and they like to especially pop up a week or two after u bought it, but if u at least do the 3 major checks u will have a better chance of buying a car that has a drivetrain/transmission, engine/crankshaft that will be in a fair enough condition for u not to worry about for as long as u intend to look after and maintain them which for u will mean no repairs fatal to driving the car. Finally enjoy ur car it was made for the road and vice versa u and it deserve to have some fun so go out and use it as an excuse to go somewhere u have never been or scene.
Best of luck,
If u or anyone reading this need more info or a question answered my email is firstname.lastname@example.org