One of the more common problems for vehicles when temperatures fall to the zero mark is failing batteries, according to a Massillon mechanic.

Whether a car is brand new or a clunker, driving in extreme chilly weather can be quite the task.

A more common problem for vehicles when temperatures fall to the zero mark is failing batteries, according to David Wheeler, a mechanic and owner of Advanced Tech Auto Repair in Massillon.

“We’ve seen a lot of borderline batteries that have just failed,” Wheeler said. “It’s always best to test them before it gets this cool.”

Car fluids can thicken or freeze if temperatures drop too low, said Wheeler, who advises folks to keep engine belts, hoses and oil up to par. Thicker fluids, such as oil and power-steering fluid, can make vehicles “whine” or make clicking sounds before they warm up, he added.

“Thick oil makes a car crank harder and work more, too,” he said. “(Vehicle) noise can also come from expanding and contracting of drive shafts.”

Wheeler said battery acid in cars can become dense, making the car more difficult to start. He recommended allowing vehicles to warm up between five and 10 minutes after they’ve sat idle for hours at a time.

“Let the hood and fluids get warm,” Wheeler said. “Don’t just throw the car in gear and take off.”

Sometimes cold weather brings out some silliness in people, according to Wheeler, who said a customer came in this week for assistance in opening a sunroof, which had clogged drains in its operating system.

“You had to scratch your head on that one,” he said. “He had a valid reason for coming in, but it’s something you don’t expect in this weather.”

BATTERY CALLS HIGH FOR AAA

Kimberly Schwind, senior public relations manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club, said Tuesday most of the calls from members were related to faulty car batteries.

“A lot of them are failing in the cold weather,” Schwind said.

Many motorists appear to be locking keys inside vehicles while warming them up, Schwind said.

“This is common in cars with automatic locking mechanisms,” said Schwind, who recommends keeping a set of spare keys inside homes or simply “staying put at home if you can.”

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