Bozeman, Belgrade wake up to subzero temperatures, dead car batteries

Posted at 2:30 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 18:13:16-05

BOZEMAN – Many of us woke up with a car that just wouldn’t start and frigid temperatures that weren’t helping.

Tow companies are getting slammed with calls, all for help, while body shops are seeing their own pros and cons as sub-zero conditions sweep across the area.

“When you need that battery to have all of that energy to turn it over, that cold-cranking amp, it’s gone,” says Rob Hammond, owner of Big O Tires in Bozeman.

Rob Hammond’s shop is not the only one to be fielding dozens of calls, all with the same issue — dying batteries.

Best Rate Towing and Repair in Belgrade had been backlogged around 50 calls all day Monday.

Hammond says one thing you might not know: the sub-zero chill didn’t start it.

“The heat destroys the acidity of that battery throughout the summer,” Hammond says. “The more heat that the battery has, the more energy that it draws out of that battery but you don’t realize that the battery is slowly starting to die in the summer because you don’t need those cranking amps to make that happen.”

Pete Oldenburg at A&D Auto Body in Bozeman says the slick and freezing conditions on the road are both a pro and a con.

“Business is extremely busy, right, obviously with the roads being bad, there’s lots of collisions out there,” Oldenburg says. “We still have lots of animal strikes but we also, as the roads get bad, we get more and more bumper to bumper stuff, T-bones.”

The engineers at A&D Body Shop also are seeing a hike in their business but that’s because of the body damage. Oldenburg says while that has been happening, there have been delays in just getting the parts for it.

“When you are out there on the freeway and you see all of those semi-trucks off of the road, that could have your parts in it or that could have panels in it and that obviously slows everything down,” Oldenburg says.

He adds that these fender benders can be costly, sometimes ranging from $1,200 to $2,000.

As for your battery…

“It’s time to check antifreeze levels and then to have your battery tested to find out is the cold-cranking amps in that battery for winter,” Hammond says.

Rob Hammond says you only truly need to check your battery when, A, you are starting to see red flags that could mean a battery issue already or, B, you want to stay ahead of a cold snap that you know is already coming.

Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News