Get your motor running …

The morning might have started, but the vehicle didn’t. That was the cold reality for many residents across the Lakeland over the last few days of extremely frigid winter weather. 

Rob Wladyka, the manager at Oasis Trail Tire in Lac La Biche, says vehicle owners should always make that their vehicles are plugged in overnight when the mercury dips as low as it has recently… and even when it’s not as cold. 

“It’s healthy for your engine to be plugged in after -18 degrees,” he said, explaining that the block heater not only makes for a better chance of a person getting to work in the morning, it also takes some of the stress off the engine’s moving parts. 

Having vehicles plugged in during frigid temperatures definitely helps, he said, but it’s still not a guarantee against Mother Nature. Another integral part of the cold-weather battle is a good battery.  

“If your vehicle battery isn’t strong enough to turn the engine over it won’t start,” he said. 

As Wladyka explains, the engine block, being metal, just gets so cold that it can’t move the oil and its internal components to create combustion to start the engine. In this situation, heat and a strong battery are the only things that help.  

Attempting to boost a cold battery can help, but if the vehicle was not plugged in and the battery is not charged, even this may not do any good.  According to Wladyka, battery blankets can help to insulate the battery from the cold.  

He recommends that vehicle owners have their batteries tested for strength before the wintry weather hits to be best prepared. 

If all else fails, he said with a shrug, Oasis Tirecraft runs a 24-hour towing service.  

The local Alberta Motor Association (AMA) and Canadian Auto Association (CAA) contractor receives lots of calls for boosting and towing vehicles during periods of cold weather.  

Safety plans 

Plugging in, battery tests, battery blankets and road-side assistance plans are all part of winter-weather preparation methods the automotive expert advises for drivers. He also urges drivers in the region to prepare a winter emergency kit for their vehicles including warm clothing, blankets, candles, flashlights, and flares. 

“Our AMA call volumes can be significant during this time, but we do our best to service everyone as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Wladyka said, adding that people must make sure they have a plan in place if they break down on the highway, as wait times can be several hours. 


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