Deep freeze breaks down cars in Michigan - WNEM TV 5

Deep freeze breaks down cars in Michigan

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The dreaded sound when engines don't turn over left many drivers stuck out in the cold during a deep freeze.

“Put the key in and usually it just starts right up,” Joe Schmitt said.

But not in this cold.

“It spun a little bit,” Schmitt said.

The stutter of clicks or a slow crank when you turn the key means the car battery is either dying or dead.

“He thinks he has a dead battery,” Schmitt said.

The parking lot at Woodward's Garage filled up with cars that wouldn't start before John Russo even got to work. 

“Well, everyone that's had a marginal battery is in here today getting a battery because the car won't start,” Russo said.

Freezing temperatures slow the chemical reactions happening inside car batteries.

“And then on the same token, the engine is cold, the oil is cold, the oil is thicker everything is harder and needs more energy,” Russo said.

Heating and defrosting also drain battery power.

“If you don't have proper freeze protection you're going to have engine issues, radiator issues, stuff is going to start freezing and breaking,” Russo said.

Russo said engines are like ice trays.

“You got water in there, it's going to expand and it's going to bust stuff,” he said.

Anti-freeze protection and a quick battery check could save drivers from a major headache.

“Now you tow it in. Well, your battery is junk and your tires are shot right after Christmas. Now, it's $2,000 plus a $75 tow bill,” Russo said.

Calls to tow truck companies around Kalamazoo had wait times starting at two hours.

Copyright 2017 CBS News / WWMT. All rights reserved. 

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