The extreme cold is having an extreme impact on residents automotive health.
The local Canadian Automobile Association have been kept busy as another round of bitter cold struck the area Sunday night into Monday morning. The situation has become so bad that field coordinator Wayne Salatino said calls for home assistance coming in Monday afternoon were being pushed back to Tuesday.
“We’re already at 24-hours a day for anybody at home. That’s how swamped we are,” Salatino said. “This is the busiest that we’ve seen in 20 years. In Thunder Bay alone last week we handled probably close to 900 calls and we’re at 150-200 calls already for the start of this week.
“We’re running into a lot of problems that equipment is starting to break down. A lot of calls that used to be a boost are now a tow.”
The equipment breakdown is also taking its toll on the repair crews. The CAA service department is down one of their repair trucks, leaving only three to respond to calls.
They also have a couple of contractors working as well, but that side is down a pair of trucks leaving seven to perform services.
Salatino asks people calling for assistance to be patient, and he doesn’t expect things to quiet down until the end of the week if the weather cooperates.
“We need it to slow down. We need to give our drivers a chance to get a breather and we need to get our equipment serviced so I’m hoping for slowdowns by the end of the week,” he said.
Headaches over getting engines fired up were not merely limited to personal vehicles. School buses were cancelled in the morning for Nipigon, Red Rock and Dorion due to the buses not being able to start.
The Lakehead Public School Board said there were some issues with buses in the morning but that they were sorted out and service was fairly normal.
All of the battery issues have meant increased business for local auto parts stores.
Doug Wilson, the owner of Fat Guys Auto Parts, reports that his staff has been kept busy by people looking for new car batteries.
“We got about four skids on Friday and we’re going to reorder (Monday). I think we sold 70 or 80 on Friday,” Wilson said. “The transport guys that drop them off are wowed by the number of batteries.”
He added that many people have had troubles with block heaters and cords as well as antifreeze if it has not been properly mixed.
Car maintenance this winter has been affected in areas other than just under the hood. Many people have been springing to buy winter tires with the mix of cold temperatures and accumulated snow.
Done-Rite Tire and Auto service manager Darryl Roberts said that the tire section of the shop is routinely packed and sales are greater than last year.
“This year is a lot busier. Even this year we’ve sold a lot of studded tires and basic (winter tires),” Roberts said.
“When it gets to - 40C the all-season tires don’t have the flexibility that a winter tire has. A winter tire is a lot more pliable at - 40C and it grips better.”
Environment Canada forecasts temperatures to gradually increase over the next couple of days with highs of just more than - 20C on Tuesday and Wednesday before reaching - 11C on Thursday and - 7C on Friday.