Auto mechanics in Thunder Bay say they're having a busier winter than usual, as longer periods of frigid weather are causing a variety of problems with vehicles.

The owner of Garry's Automotive said he's been taking a lot more phone calls this winter.

“Oh, it's constant, the phone doesn't stop ringing,” Ian Gradner said.

Cold snaps have meant a lot of dead batteries and flooded engines.

But Gradner said many people are bringing in vehicles with another problem.

“We're getting a lot of power steering issues,” he said.

“The cold weather is increasing the pressures on the power steering systems and blowing hoses off like crazy. [Customers are] surprised about the power steering problems, the dead batteries and flooded engines."

Maintained vehicles manage cold weather better

ryan harmer

Ryan Harmer, the manager at a Thunder Bay automotive service centre, says properly maintaining your vehicle can mitigate a lot of the problems he's seeing. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

At Harmer's Quality Auto Service, manager Ryan Harmer said last month was likely his busiest December in more than 20 years.

He said giving your vehicle few extra minutes to warm up will help.

“For the most part, people don't run their vehicles very long and that's what's hard on it,” Harmer said.

“The vehicle doesn't come up to proper operating temperature. Cold weather is very hard on electronics, [and] stuff like batteries.”

Harmer noted cars that are regularly maintained have “a lot less problems” than the ones that aren’t.

“Probably last winter gave people a … false sense of security to prepare their cars for winter,” he said.

“Lots of this stuff could have been avoided if people would have done stuff like regular maintenance.”

Vehicles adversely affected by the bitter temperatures this winter has meant a lot of extended hours for the automotive shop mechanics.

"Any time you get an extended period of -30 C, -40 C for more than two days, we get swamped,” Gradner said.

To which Harmer added:

“My wife doesn't see a lot of me right now.”