Tow trucks busy thanks to continuing Arctic blast

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

As this Arctic blast continues it's causing one big problem in the Chippewa Valley. You may have fell victim to it as you started your cars this morning. This is some of the coldest air we've had in the Chippewa Valley in years. We've been in this ice box now for about 40 hours, and it's wreaking havoc on a lot of vehicles out there. And that's been keeping area tow trucks busy all day.

You know it's cold when the Chippewa River is steaming. These frigid and sub-zero temperatures have caused many batteries to give up, and that's kept the trucks at Chippewa Valley towing hopping.

"Well we've been running steady since about 5 o'clock this morning. We have cars that are breaking down and cars that won’t start. Like for example, there are lots of cars that are stalling out because it's so cold just while they're driving," explains manager Ben Ziebell.

Both extreme cold and extreme heat means big business for towing companies. The only problem is they too have to brave the elements.
"It’s kind of bittersweet. You get cold, but as long as you're dressed warm and prepared for it then it's not too bad."

John Effertz is a mechanic at ATS Service Center and says our long, hot summer this past year is actually playing a big role in why these batteries are giving up on us now.

"The heat from the summer actually makes the battery get hot and they sulfate, and they end up taking some of the life out of the battery," says Effertz.

He says that's why in places like Arizona where it gets super-hot, with long stretches above 100 degree. batteries are replaced every couple years whereas it's more like every 5 years here in Wisconsin.

"You need to get them tested on a regular basis to know where your state of health is."

Something interesting Effertz also mentioned. Batteries nowadays are different. With older batteries you used to hear a slow crank to know that something's up and your battery might fail. With newer batteries you don't get that. Now you can be driving one minute then calling a tow truck the next. The best advice is to make sure your battery is checked regularly. Also, start your car and give it some time to warm up the engine and fluids.

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