Cold car care made easy

Greg Nienhouse of Brickyard Towing in Traverse City is towing a van that would not start in the cold temperatures.

The sub-zero temperatures definitely take a toll on our bodies but they also have a negative effect on the cars and trucks we drive. 7&4 News went to a local tow truck company to find out how the cold effects our vechiles and how we can protect them from damage.

Greg Nienhouse of Brickyard Towing in Traverse City says this recent blast of cold weather has tripled his businesses call volume, compared to an average winter day where temperatures are in the 30's.

Nienhouse says they gotten nearly 100 weather-related calls since the storm hit three days ago. Some of these calls were accident-related, others were drivers stuck in ditches and many were keys locked in the car. But the majority of calls have been linked to vehicles simply not starting, because of dead batteries. Nienhouse explains, "In this cold batteries will lose their charge, if you leave something on it drains battery quickly. Cold weather takes a lot more amperage to start a vehicle so that taxes the battery even more. So if your battery is low, your car isn't going to start."

To make sure your battery doesn't lose its juice in this cold, Nienhouse suggests keeping your car in the garage overnight. He says, "It will be warmer than sitting outside in the wind, make sure when you shut your car off all the accessories are shut offâ?¦ the cell phone charger is unplugged, the GPS is unplugged, and the inside car lights are off..."

Nienhouse says a cold winter blast like this is a great opportunity to freshen-up on winter driving safety. There are the obvious tips like keeping your speeds low and properly clearing off the snow from your car before hitting the road.

In the unfortunate scenario you do find yourself stuck in a snow-bank somewhere, Nienhouse says keep safety supplies in your car things like blankets, flashlights, candles, extra winter clothes, and cell phone chargers. Another big "to-do" is check your tire treads and Nienhouse has a nifty trick for that. He explains, "Take a nickel, turn it upside down, and if you can see top of the presidents head, then you don't have enough tread, it needs to cover at least half way up his wig..."

Nienhouse also reminds you to clear-off your license plate before hitting the road; otherwise you could get in trouble with the law.