Before we get into the details and start discussing checkpoints, keep in mind the two thumb rules of buying a car: Buy with you brain not with your heart and second one is, if you're not fully convinced about buying than walk away before getting too much involved. Now, once you had done selecting the car keep in the mind the following checklist:
A car in good condition will value more but it will also worth spending for. Take the vehicle for a test drive and get all major systems such as engine, cooling, transmission, wheels, etc. checked by a trusted mechanic.
Ensure the seller provides you with all papers that need to be verified, including the original invoice, NOC from the car loan provider, and road tax receipt.
Older vehicles may come cheap but may be impossible to upgrade. A relatively new model is preferable, especially if it comes at an affordable price.
Engine is the main functioning component of vehicle or you can say it is the heart of vehicle. Its thorough checking is essential. Check for leaks, oil level, head gasket condition and exhaust smoke.
Appearances of vehicle is another matter of concern so be sure to check the outside and underneath of car. A torch is useful for the latter.
This will ensure that you don't have to put extra money on these features. Check carefully tread depth, rubber condition and makes of each tyre.
While you look for outside appearance make sure to peek inside and check the boot, dash (for mileage and warning lights) and electronics thoroughly.
Look for any signs of past accident of the vehicle. Any signs of inconsistent gaps between panels or mismatched colors that could be a sign of extensive repairs. It will be good to clarify these things because it will save you from later troubles.
Are the jack and other tools present? Do all the seat-belts operate correctly? If airbags are fitted?