#1 service history, IE: timing belt, water pump, and thermostat at 100,000 mile increments. then general service records.
#2 rust on the underside of rockers, floors, trunk, and the bottom of the doors (inside where it meets the kick).
#3 tail light gaskets leak, check the tail bulb trays for corrosion and check the spare tire well for water.
#4 check all general engine connections electrical, breathers, and vacuum lines. if anything is disconnected then there is a reason.
if it has a body kit/ground kit, rocker extensions, check behind them for rust.
also check the shift linkage for worn relay ball/bushings, this will create a sloppy shift pattern, and check the gaskets on the engine, the valve covers are known for weeping/leaking.
as far as the engine not being the greatest, it is what it is, with scheduled and regular maintenance it will run for a very long time. I have 190,000 miles on my 98 cabrio and it still runs very strong.
Last edited by Mason; 06-26-2011 at 06:58 AM.