Cold weather hurts car batteries, tires but keeps metro roadside assistance programs busy this winter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Business is booming, and it's all due to the weather.

AAA in Missouri said the last few days have resulted in 400-500 calls for service -- nearly three times the roadside assistance program's normal call load.

One AAA roadside assistance driver told FOX 4 News he had 10 calls waiting for him, and he’s working as efficiently as he can to satisfy the demand.

AAA says Kansas City’s current sub-zero weather makes driving hard for the average motorist, but it's killing batteries in people's cars, which is keeping drivers on the road.

“This time of year, it's just the cold weather. The battery is probably just weak,” said Matt Hasslequist, who has worked AAA Roadside Assistance for 11 years.

Hasselquist said a dead battery can happen to most anyone driving around the metro. When your car’s battery dies, Hasselquist is among the army of AAA drivers who's ready to roll. He's been rescuing people from dead batteries and other trouble under the hood since 2007.

Since this cold snap hit the metro, Hasselquist said he's the busiest he's ever been, often times working 12-hour shifts on the road, performing battery tests among other tasks.

Hasslequist said many drivers believe keeping their cars in a garage will prevent this, but that's not always so.

“A lot of people park in the garage, which is great to do, but age plays a factor in batteries as well," he said. "It's not always fool proof. Anything can happen with a battery.

Basic battery maintenance can also help keep a battery alive. When drivers see white corrosion around the battery’s terminals, it’s easy to take a wire brush or use a can of Coke to clean it off. Hasselquist recommends a new battery every three to five years.

“That's an average. The cold weather plays a part, but don't forget: We're in the middle of winter right now," he said. "Don't forget, in summer, the extreme heat is almost equally as bad on a battery."

Hasslequist said AAA drivers are also busy with calls concerning tires. Cold weather can make a car's tires deflate by as much as five pounds, so it's important that drivers pay attention to their pocket tire gauges. During cold weather months, even a small bump off a curb can cause an under-inflated tire to rupture.