Check the tire treads for traction
Brauer says it's critical to make sure the tires on a winter beater are rated for rain and snow, and that they have plenty of tread life. If not, you should plan to immediately buy a new set of winter tires. They are designed to withstand colder temperatures and maximize traction due to their deeper tread. If you do, factor that into the purchase price.
Brock recommends looking for tires with treads that are less than one-quarter worn. "Good winter tires will set a consumer back $450 or more, so having a good set already on the car will save you substantial money before the winter is over," he says.