2003... It's a personal rule of mine, but I never buy a car unless I can see each and every spark plug. There is good reason for this. If the square shoulders on the center electrode is not just a BIT rounded off (from expected use and replacement interval) but is rounded-off like a half moon, that points to a lack of maintenance. If you know how to read a spark plug, the color of the electrode and the insulator will reveal much, and if the thing is oil fouled, walk, no, run like hell from this car.
As for recall notices, the three I seem to remember are: 1) ignition coil replacement, 2) inspection of rear unibody chassis cracks and tears in the sheetmetal where the subframe meets up with the chassis, and 3) in 2008, there was a ECU software update relating to "turning down" the post cat O2 sensors' sensitivity, but the notice won't read like that; it'll describe something like ECU/Software Emissions Update or some related wording. If this matches up with your own research, that's good.
The rear tires, are they feathered on this inside? Get bright flashlight and take a good look at the RTAB; are there cracks in it the rubber, and is the rubber sound around the metal sleeve? When you hit the accelerator hard from a moderate street speed, does the car self steer to one side just the slightest bit? If yes, RTAB replacement is necessary. The useful life of this bushing is now ended.
Open the hood and AT LEAST look at the coolant in the reservoir. Is it nice and clear or is there a milky/sticky paste around the filler neck? If there is, run from this sled. While you have the hood up, with a bright flashlight look at the frame where it eventually leads to the bumper; is the sheetmetal stampings perfect or is there some defect to it? If there is some defect, that's likely accident damage. Go to the other end of the car and pop the trunk, lift off ALL trunk floor carpets and carefully inspect all the sheetmetal around and between the strut towers including the any seams; what you are looking for are metal cracks or tears.
Is the underside of the car nice and clean, meaning there isn't a big gash going across the chassis underside which indicates a shunt or foray over a not so nice curb or other road furniture? If you can't at least answer any of these questions, and you are about to plunk down $16,000.00, in my personal opinion, that would be questionable judgement, but like anything on this forum, it's just an opinion. I hope some or all of this resonates with you so a more careful approach will be taken. Good luck.
Last edited by lucky_doggg7; 11-14-2012 at 09:41 PM.