Area auto shops staying busy after freeze kills car batteries

By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Freezing overnight temperatures left some local motorists stranded Tuesday morning.

(Photo by Rissa Shaw)

"You have a cold snap, and we're going to see a lot of battery issues," said Dave DeRosier, General Manager at Freddie Kish's Complete Car Care Center in Waco.

Area auto shops were busy replacing batteries Tuesday to get vehicles back up and running, officials reported.

"We have been very busy with batteries," said DeRosier.

With a consecutive night of freezing temperatures, he says they expect the same for Wednesday.

"You definitely see a whole bunch more cars after any type of weather extreme that we have here in Central Texas," said DeRosier. "Any type of temperature extremes affect battery performance."

Cold weather makes it harder for batteries to produce the burst of energy needed to turn over an engine, plus it thickens engine oil, according to auto experts.

"Leading up to the cold weather, there's a few small clues to tell you your battery is getting weak, at least with cars that aren't new," said DeRosier. "It's going to seemingly start a little slower than you'd expect it to, the power windows are going to move a little slower, the headlights may be a little dimmer, things like that."

He says the only way to guarantee your car will start in extreme weather is to have your battery checked by a professional.

"Catch a battery that is becoming weak and get it replaced before it leaves you stranded, not after," said DeRosier. "Be proactive."

Many auto shops, like Kish, perform battery load tests free of charge.

"Wherever you take your car to have it serviced, have them load test the battery each and every time it's in their shop," said DeRosier. "See if the battery can hold its voltage."

While the average battery life in some vehicles can run between three and five years (especially for cars with mid or rear engines), DeRosier says, due to the toll the heat takes on front engines, the battery of an average vehicle in Central Texas is between 18 and 24 months.

Monday night was the second local freeze this year.

Not only did the temperature drop hurt some people's batteries, their bank accounts likely felt the pain, too.

Sources say vehicle batteries can be twice as expensive as they were two or three years ago.

"Batteries have gone up quite a bit in the last couple of years, expect to pay in the $125 range and up for a quality battery," said DeRosier. "The price of lead has gone up in the market and, therefore, the price of batteries has gone up."

Auto experts say increased lead regulation is forcing American companies have to outsource because it's too costly to smelt lead in the U.S., and the costs, including disposal fees, are being passed down to the consumer.