Drivers awaiting tow face woe of wait

1/25/2014
BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER
25n6cars

Henryk Kress of Perrysburg, left, watches as Andrew Thomas of Lambertville unhooks jumper cables from his car after the battery in Mr. Kress’ car died.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON

 Henryk Kress of Perrysburg, left, watches as Andrew Thomas of Lambertville unhooks jumper cables from his car after the battery in Mr. Kress’ car died.
Henryk Kress of Perrysburg, left, watches as Andrew Thomas of Lambertville unhooks jumper cables from his car after the battery in Mr. Kress’ car died.

The advisory posted on the AAA Northwest Ohio Web site on Friday was very clear: “Due to current road conditions, we are experiencing a high call volume ... current wait times are at two hours.”

Earlier this week, the wait time for roadside assistance was up to four hours, said Bob Kazmierczak, vice president of automotive services of AAA Northwest Ohio.

“We do see high volumes every year,” Mr. Kazmierczak said. “But not for this length of time.”

The snow, wind, and colder-than-normal temperatures have been playing havoc with many drivers’ vehicles this winter, Mr. Kazmierczak said.

“We are definitely seeing an increase,” he said. “The biggest problems are dead batteries and tires with no traction, or flat tires.”

Mr. Kazmierczak and mechanics at Toledo’s Mr. Espinosa Auto Center suggested motorists check their vehicle’s anti-freeze, heating and cooling system, steering fluid, belts, and wiper blades to make sure all are in working order.

Preferably this should be done in the fall before winter arrives, because if a motorist procrastinates until winter, the risk of those parts failing increases, Mr. Kazmierczak said.

Motorists also should make sure their vehicles have good winter tires with good traction, he said.

Even with all the safeguards, some vehicles don’t make it during winter months, especially when the temperature plummets to well below zero, as it has this month, mechanics said.

Mechanics strongly recommend motorists warm their vehicles for several minutes before driving, especially during colder-than-normal days.

Mr. Kazmierczak agreed. Modern vehicles usually don’t need to be warmed up, but the colder weather makes vehicle parts more vulnerable. A usually flexible belt can become stiff in the cold and crack if not warmed up before driving, he said.

Because of the high demand of tow trucks and other roadside assistance, motorists should be prepared to wait for several hours in their vehicles before trucks can arrive, Mr. Kazmierczak said.

Every vehicle should have an emergency kit that includes a blanket, candles and matches, a flashlight, and extra gloves.

He also recommends motorists take water with them on every trip, pack a small shovel, kitty litter or rock salt, and extra clothes.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.