April 19, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
51°F

Wicked weather brings host of car troubles

From dead batteries to leaking coolant and broken windows, auto repair shops across Medina County found themselves busy Tuesday because of the extreme cold weather.

Bill McCall, owner of McCall’s Auto Service in Wadsworth, said the biggest problem his customers faced was not enough power in the batteries to start their cars. The lower the temperature, the weaker the battery.

“The fix is simple,” he said. “Listen to the mechanic when they say they tested the battery and it looks like you’re about ready for a new one.”

McCall said testing batteries is just one part of preventative maintenance, which also includes changing antifreeze every few years, keeping tire pressure up and caring for windshield wipers.

Del Kyer, manager at Conrad’s Tire Express & Total Car Care in Medina, added that old rubber hoses in the coolant system also are affected by extreme cold.

“We probably had more calls about coolant leaks and dead batteries in the past three days than we have in the week before that,” Kyer said.

He said the easiest way to avoid these problems in the cold weather is to keep vehicles in a garage or other enclosure.
If that’s not an option, he said to check battery power regularly and tire pressure weekly.

To check for weak batteries, manager Tony Zajkowski at Superlube Complete Car Care in Brunswick said car owners can look for a few signs.

“If cranking is slow when you turn your car on, or if the lights are dim while driving, or if the wipers appear to be going slower,” he said, “then you may be ready for a new battery.”

He said batteries last about five years and should be checked after three. After five, he recommended getting a new one even if there are no problems.

“You’d hate to just suddenly have no battery power,” Zajkowski said, “especially when it’s cold out.”

Bill Hill, owner of Mighty Auto Pro in Medina, said his shop was seeing a more unusual problem: frozen windows.

“People are trying to roll their windows down, but the windows are frozen inside the rubber,” Hill said. “So the gears are cranking the window down, but the window is staying in place.”

If the mechanism breaks, once the window thaws, the glass can slam downward. If that happens, he said, drivers could have a shattered window on their hands.

“Don’t keep pushing on the button if the window’s not going down,” he said. “Leave it where it is.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.