Loose steering can be hazardous
Check out the car's steering parts, like the tie rods, rack and pinion, and idler arms on your beater, says Brock.
Problems with these components will usually be obvious in a test drive. Watch for things like loose steering, popping noises when turning or severe pulling to one side. If you notice any of these, it's best to have a mechanic pinpoint the problem.
"Looseness in these components will create extremely hazardous driving in snow and ice, or on wet roads, as severe oversteering, understeering or loose steering can cause accidents," Brock says.