Long winter is taking a toll on car batteries - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Long winter is taking a toll on car batteries

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(02/28/14) - For the past 10 weeks, we've experienced some brutally cold temperatures. The weather hasn't just made us miserable - it's been hard on our cars, too.

It's a daily routine for many of us - crossing our fingers before we put the key in the ignition. Car repair shops are busy, replacing dead batteries and fixing antifreeze problems. There are some things you can do to reduce your cold weather maintenance expenses.

These incredibly cold temperatures just won't let up in Mid-Michigan.

"All of a sudden I got half way here and it was minus 22. It kept fluctuating  between minus 22 and minus 16," said Dan Erickson, service manager at Al Serra Auto Plaza Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Grand Blanc.

Numbers like that keep car batteries from reaching a ripe old age.

"We're seeing a lot of dead batteries, a lot of tow-ins for no-starts. We're replacing lots of batteries," Erickson said.

If your battery is four years old or more, the chances of surviving much longer are not good, but there are a few things you can do to extend the life.

"I would make sure you unplug any accessories, cell phone chargers, Garmins, Tom-Toms, anything like that, unplug all that stuff. That will make sure it doesn't have any load on the battery overnight, because all that makes the battery weak," Erickson said.

Many cars are brought in because the heater has stopped working. That often indicates an antifreeze problem.

"They're adding water to it and water is not the content that coolant is. So it will actually raise the freezing point and if you have water in side there and it does freeze, it's going to cause internal engine damage," Erickson said.

Owners of four-wheel-drive vehicles have something extra to check because of all the snow.

"You need to make sure you're changing the transmission fluid, changing the drive line fluid for your four wheel drive," Erickson said.

Erickson also recommends you wash your car once a week during the winter. All that salt we've been driving through eats away your sheet metal, undercarriage and paint.

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