Dead batteries keep Island towing, maintenance companies busy

If you had trouble starting your car on Thursday, here's some cold comfort: you're not alone.

Cars not starting in the extreme cold weather that hit P.E.I. this week

Tow truck driver Elmer Curtis was kept busy on Thursday as several cars needed a boost after the cold temperatures overnight on P.E.I. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

If you had trouble starting your car on Thursday, here's some cold comfort: you're not alone.

Tow truck drivers are busy this week, boosting batteries and helping Island drivers get where they need to go.

Mary MacDonald was late arriving for her volunteer shift on Thursday at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Her faithful set of wheels temporarily let her down.

The same scene was repeated dozens of times during the day. One tow truck company said they had about 40 calls just this morning — about double the normal amount. Dead and dying batteries are put to the test in this frigid weather. Many get a failing grade.

A portable battery charger can be used to boost a car if the battery dies in the cold weather. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Your best friend at this time of year could be a portable battery booster that you can give your battery a jump start. If you don't have one, a passerby or neighbour could give you a boost with their vehicle. Vehicles should run for a half hour to recharge the battery after a boost.

5 year lifespan

Even the best batteries only have a service life of five years or so. After that, they need to be replaced with a new one. If you're unsure whether your battery is nearing the end of its life, you can get a load test at an auto shop. Unfortunately, this cold weather is often when they die.

Todd Storring of Down East Auto Parts said he sold between 30-40 batteries this week and will probably run out in the coming days. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Todd Storring, of Down East Auto Parts, said the shop is probably going to run out of batteries by the end of the week due to all the dead batteries. But there is one thing that might help.

"An old saying from my dad is always turn your headlights on for two or three seconds, shut them off and then start your car. What it does is it will warm your battery up," said tow truck driver Elmer Curtis.

With files from Brian Higgins