The return of the Minnesota deep freeze this week also brings us back to the perception that cold weather might cause problems with our cars.
However, many local mechanics say modern automobile technology makes a car of today better able to withstand cold snaps like the one we’ve just experienced.
Still, if a driver has a five year old battery and has been trying to nurse it through one more winter (like me), then the sub zero mornings this week might have been the coupe de grace for that old battery.
Lorin Nommensen at Don’s Tire in St. James said he was having a busy day on Monday, but he wasn’t sure that it was all connected to the cold weather.
Nommensen said Don’s Tire had to jump start a couple of cars and had to push a couple into the shop.
If it’s not the battery, very cold weather seems to push any mechanical part near the end of its life over the edge. Cold weather can be hard on equipment.
For some people it is the battery. Oscar Alvarez of NAPA Auto Parts said that because of the cold weather his store has seen an uptick of people coming in with suspect batteries. The parts store can test batteries. On Monday morning NAPA sold three batteries in the first hour to customers who had dead batteries.
Rod Rushing of Rod’s Repair said that the way modern cars are engineered that this cold snap wasn’t cold enough or wasn’t going to be long enough to adversely impact too many drivers. “Equipment like fuel injectors are so much more refined this day and age,” he said.
“That first cold snap back in December killed off a lot of the old batteries,” Rushing said. He said he replaced a lot of batteries that month.
He also said that it would take a long cold snap of four or five nights in a row of below zero weather before mechanical problems would start showing up in many of the newer cars.
“It’s not like it was ten or twenty years ago with old cars,” Rushing said.
Cold weather back then tended to cause more problems to the cars of those days. Of course cold snaps back then were often 25 or 30 below zero and they did go on for longer periods of time.
Page 2 of 2 - Sam Clipperton of Clipperton’s Auto Repair agreed that modern cars are built to better handle cold weather. “Cars today aren’t affected as much,” Clipperton said.
“The truth of the matter is hot weather is more effective in killing a battery,” Clipperton said.
The longtime auto mechanic said that back in the 70s and 80s the fall was a busy time of year for mechanics as people would bring their cars in getting them ready for winter. He said that today preparing cars for winter was a foreign concept for most people.
‘Cars have more powerful ignition systems, smaller engines and better batteries,” Clipperton said.
He said these kind of advances and other engineering advances have made getting through winter easier for owners of newer automobiles.
Perhaps that’s good news for me too as now maybe I can stretch out replacing that old battery of mine till this summer. I just might wait till just before that first hot stretch hits.