Car dealers face winter challenges

PARKERSBURG – Car dealers faced challenges, too, this winter.

Customers were looking for vehicles equipped to deal with treacherous roadways or needed maintenance on their vehicles.

“Winter weather really takes a toll,” said Joe Kincheloe of Kincheloe Motors.

With lots of snow and temperatures below zero for lengthy periods, few people ventured in search of a new car.

“People had to hold off,” said Keith Lytle, general manager of McClinton Chevrolet.

People who thought about buying a new car in January have put it off until February or March, he said.

“It has been a challenging winter,” he said.

Over the last month, Lytle joked that all of the vehicles came in one color – white – because of all the snow on the lot.

Cars popular with customers over the last couple of months have been 4-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, said Mark Hawk of Superior Toyota.

“We had sold all of our 4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles,” he said of record sales for those vehicles.

Lytle said those have been in high demand at McClinton’s, too.

“Four-wheel drive vehicles have been very popular,” he said.

With slippery and hazardous roads, many dealerships have seen an increase in maintenance and service work.

“We have had a lot of pothole work,” Hawk said.

Superior has done wheel alignments, tire repairs, bent rim repairs and suspension work.

“The cold weather really drives the service business,” Kincheloe said.

Car batteries that may have a bad cell, but may still function normally during the summer may not work in the winter and may need replacing.

“We have sold a lot of batteries,” Kincheloe said.

Vehicles striking deer have made up a lot of the collision work they have dealt with.

“It has been a good winter for the body shop,” Lytle said. “We have been able to help get people going.”

McClinton has had to deal with a lot of fender benders from people sliding on the icy roadways and hitting other vehicles and obstacles.

Although cold temperatures are expected into the coming week, dealerships are starting to feel the pull of springtime.

As people begin to get the income tax refunds, many will be looking at getting a new car soon, Lytle said.

“Those (refunds) help make cars more affordable,” he said.

Hawk said Superior is getting its inventory in and ready for spring.

“We are getting stocked up,” he said. “Once Mother Nature flips that switch and the weather starts warming up we will have those cars ready.”