How much mechanical experience do you have? Is it a stick or an automatic? Do you really know how to test drive a vehicle to check for issues?
Does the engine knock? Does the tranny slip? Is the (if it's a stick) clutch sloppy? Do you know how to check the oil? After you test drive it, do you know how or where to check the tranny fluid(if it's and auto) and how it smells? An indication of a bad tranny.
Can you walk around a vehicle and recognize bad body repairs? Bad paint job, bad bondo fill job?
What kind of shape are the belt/belts in? Does it squeal? An indication of bad belts, or sloppy adjustments, or bad alternator/ac unit.
I can and have, changed tires, starters, radiators, and alternators.
As a woman, who has a husband mechanic/body repair guy, people who are selling vehicles, hate to see me coming, because I know too much!
I don't deal on vehicles any more, I pick out 2 or 3, test drive and report back to the hub about what I want and what is the best deal and send him off to do it.
I've told the sales/ private folks, well this is right, but this is wrong, I like this, that needs fixed, etc. They look at me like I have 2 heads and a tail!
But if my hub shows up and says all the same things, it's great.
I'd find a guy who is at least half car savvy and take him along. I know it's a sexist thing, but if it saves a few bucks? Go for it. No point in getting the shaft.