Winter weather affects vehicles

Photo by Mike Kelly Mike Herrington checks the battery of a vehicle in a service bay at Schafer Automotive center. Local garages reported being busy during the protracted surge of cold weather that has hit the Mid-Ohio Valley.

MARIETTA — Mobility can be one of the first things that falls victim to cold weather.

Auto repair shops around Marietta on Tuesday reported being swamped by demand for cold-weather repairs.

“The bottom line is, things break when it gets extra cold,” said Kenny Batey at River City Tire and Automotive. “We have problems with heaters, batteries, everything. This weather is really hard on tires, they get brittle, more susceptible to damage when they hit potholes.”

Batey said the shop has been going nonstop since it got cold. An arctic weather system landed in the valley over the holidays and is expected to remain through the weekend.

“Preventive maintenance is the key,” Batey said. “Try to do things before you have a problem.”

At John’s Auto Repair on Muskingum Drive, Ted Klintworth said he’s had a lot more vehicles in the shop.

“We did three batteries before noon today,” said Klintworth, who has been at the shop since 1991 and owned it for 14 years. “They were older batteries, four to five years old, different brands on three different kinds of car.”

Klintworth said he’s also seen cooling system problems.

“I put a thermostat in one today. If it gets stuck open, you won’t have heat (in the passenger compartment), and that’s pretty crucial at this time of year. If it gets stuck closed, the engine overheats,” he said. “In the fall, I would say, August or September, get your antifreeze checked, get it changed and flushed, clean up your cooling system and get your battery checked, too.”

A vehicle in need of a tune-up that will get by when it’s warmer can fail to start in the severe cold, he said.

“If your air filter or fuel filter needs changed or if your spark plugs are worn out, it won’t start when it’s cold,” he said.

At Schafer Automotive on Greene Street east of town, service adviser Matt Daugherty said the shop was “beyond busy.”

“We’ve got thermostats sticking, lots of batteries, tire problems,” he said.

Owner Michael Herrington, who bought the business in July, said one customer with an aging battery that checked out well before Christmas needed a replacement after the temperature dropped.

“You get below 20 degrees, you can drop a cell right now,” he said.

Herrington said many customers are looking for new tires, having gambled on a mild winter and losing the bet.

“Now, they’re just sliding down the road,” he said.