With 5 questions this week, the Herald is speaking to Jeremy Olson, of Olson Auto Repair at 1322 and ½ Dyke Avenue in Grand Forks, about cars and winter weather.
Q: How busy have you been due to the cold? Does it change from season to season?
A: The cold is weird now with the vehicles. The vehicles are so efficient that it doesn’t affect them unless we hit subarctic temperatures such as we experienced last week. It is extreme heat, extreme cold. This is what puts so much pressure on your power steering hoses, your batteries, your alternators, your blower motors. This is the kick. I tell everyone, it’s like an 80 year old body; you have a component in your body that starts to break down, and then you see this extreme heat or this extreme subarctic temperature that it’s going to break down. Something’s going to break or break or fail, the batteries, the starters, all of those things. This is how it goes.
Q: What can people do to avoid some of these problems that arise with subarctic temperatures?
A: It’s just about staying one step ahead. Proactivity, I tell everyone to have their batteries checked. You need to make sure that your voltages are coming out of your alternators. So many people wait for something to break to fix it. If you’re having a problem, or the car doesn’t seem to start as it should, it’s usually your battery that’s starting to fail. You have to find an honest repair shop, and I’ll go along with anyone here in that area. My grandfather was an aviation mechanic during WWII, he repaired planes that bombed Germany. He started us after WWII in 1946. I’m the oldest store in the Red River Valley, I believe in the same place. We are three generations. My dad took over in 1970 and then I took over here a few years ago. I am honest, I am sincere and I do the right thing. I take care of people the way I want people to take care of me.
Q: What do you recommend for people who cannot plug in their car?
A: It’s difficult. If you can’t plug it in, all you can do again is be proactive. If your battery is a few years old, buy a brand new one with the biggest, worst cold start amps you can get. If you don’t have a block heater when it’s minus 30, you’re going to be in dire straits. It’s so hard for everything.
Q: How do I get cars to the store that won’t start? Do you make home visits?
A: I am 50 years old now. When I was younger I did. You put them on a tow truck, and when they come to my store, they bring it right back to my store. This is how most stores operate.
Q: Does your car really need to warm up before starting?
A: Absolutely, a million percent. Here is my analogy, absolutely everyone understands when I say that. When you wake up in the morning, because a car is no different in that way, do you jump out of bed and take a hot walk around the block? Bump, jump and sprint in its own right? No. Your transmission, your engine, they have feelings in my kingdom. If you treat this thing right, it will treat you right.