Bitter Cold Could Make Life Tough for Both People and Vehicles

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Dave Franzman

MARION, Iowa - Eastern Iowans who haven’t done the normal winter vehicle maintenance, and park outside, may find it tougher to get going in the morning.

With record cold temperatures approaching -20 below expected, getting a vehicle started won’t be the sure thing it usually is.

Grant Humston, service manager at the Marion Goodyear store, said at least half the auto repair work at his shop on Thursday was related to the cold weather. Batteries were an obvious best seller with sales expected to double or triple the number usually sold on a regular winter day. Some customers were also worried about their tires lasting through another round of bitter cold and more snow. Some people were also discovering the cold was causing leaks in the seals that protect engine oil and coolant systems.

Humston said some auto parts that may fail if the temperature hits the “minus teens” isn’t necessarily what drivers would expect.

“Wiper blades. If drivers get ice on them they can rip the blade. Also window motors. They’re getting broken because the ice freezes the motor and then drivers try to roll them down. Stuff like that,” Humston said.

While some drivers were getting a last minute jump on preventive maintenance before the big chill, Humston expected many more service calls on Friday as drivers try to start vehicles that just won’t go.

Carmela Darrah-Chiafos, owner of Darrah’s Towing in Hiawatha, said if cars won’t start in the morning, you should expect a longer than normal wait for a service call. Towing companies say the calls typically mount up as the temperatures dip well below zero.

While tow companies will respond to emergency calls no matter what the temperature, there will be limits on what drivers can do compared to normal because of the cold.

For instance, while drivers will still get vehicles started on pull cars out of the ditch they won’t be able to fix or change tires on the street.

Darrah-Chiafos said it’s simply too cold to do that, so drivers will tow the vehicle to a repair shop where someone can do that job inside where it’s warm.

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