Extreme cold kills car batteries, leaves some stranded

Extreme cold kills car batteries, leaves some stranded

CUMRU TWP., Pa. - The vicious cold wreaked havoc on vehicles and crippled car batteries as the region dealt with the coldest weather in years.

Mike Dutt walked outside his house in Cumru Twp., Berks Co., around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday for a doctor's appointment, only to find his car wouldn't start.

"I probably should have replaced the battery early this winter when I could tell it wasn't starting like normal," said Dutt, who called AAA to replace his battery.

It was a similar story for John Aulenbach. His battery was no good, and he was stuck with nowhere to go when he tried to go to work.

"Being it was 4-1/2-years-old I figured it was going to go, but I didn't expect it to go this quick," said Aulenbach, as he waited outside for AAA to make the repair.

AAA got both Dutt and Aulenbach's cars up and running, and many more. Crews were busy all day Tuesday replacing batteries throughout Berks County.

"Batteries are mainly the brain of your car. It makes it start, and if you don't have a good battery, it's not starting," said Kevin Bohn, who is contracted through AAA.

AAA was not the only company busy. The frigid air had business booming inside Tiny Rinehart Auto Center in Shillington. Its towing business was busy with breakdowns, and mechanics were swamped fixing batteries, alternators and starters because of the cold.

"It puts pressure on the charging system. That's what causes the systems to go down and it's just that extreme cold that causes it," said Paul Rinehart, owner of TRAC.

The life of the battery lasts between three and five years. If you have an older car, crews advise having the charging system tested to see if your battery is weak, and to get it fixed before you get stuck.

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