Does the headrest support my head and neck? How's the cushioning? Inspect the seat and back for bumpy parts. And look for foam which has a density rate of 1.9 or higher (most furniture cushions range from 0.9 to 2.5), which will ensure that it keeps its shape longer. Test the chair's footrest several times to make sure it's easy to maneuver. Listen for squeaks, which may be telling signs for loose parts or improper alignment.
Recliners are like shoes — people choose them based on their looks, and then suffer if they're not comfortable enough. When you're out there shopping, have family members who'll spend the most time in the chair sit in it for five minutes or more. Ask yourself: Do my feet touch the floor when the back is upright?
Repair experts say it's usually the nonmoving parts of the recliner that get damaged or broken most often. So inspect the underside of the chair (or, if that's not possible, ask to view photos, videos, or sample "cutaways" from the manufacturer).