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Cold snap brings focus on auto care

Employees of area automotive parts and service shops say thecurrent cold snap is turning many local residents’ attention toprotecting not only their homes, but also their cars.

“We had about four antifreeze checks yesterday, about four orfive people who came in to see if they had enough,” said Ole BrookTire and Auto Service salesman Dale Wilson Friday. “They’re afraidtheir vehicle’s going to freeze and cost them a bunch ofmoney.”

Auto aficionados say people are scrambling to either pick upantifreeze to do the job themselves or going to see their closestmechanic.

“Even when the Weather Channel just started talking about thecold we saw the increase,” said O’Reilly Auto Parts Manager EvetteHall. “And with the customers, it kind of varies, you see some thatare procrastinators, and some that would rather be safe thansorry.”

NAPA Auto Parts Manager Jody Parkman said the snow that fell onSouthwest Mississippi a few weeks ago was something of aneye-opener for a lot of people. With the area’s generally mildwinters, they’re paying more attention to temperatures now thatthey’ve seen a good dose of the white stuff.

“We’re selling more antifreeze now than we have possibly in thelast year; people are buying it left and right,” he said. “I thinkeveryone is waking up like they did after Katrina withgenerators.”

Zetus Automotive mechanic Billy Price said while the snowyweather did drive people into his shop, the latest cold snap isgenerating more business so far.

“I’ve noticed more this week than it was during the snow,” hesaid. “I think people have been watching the weather.”

And that’s not unusual, said Carquest Manager Damien Holmes.

“Usually they start to come in when the news starts broadcastingthe lower temperatures, but most people don’t put it in until theyhave to,” he said. “Then it’s a mad mad rush. The temperature isusually the difference, and the temperature wasn’t as low when itwas snowing a few weeks ago.”

And mechanics say it doesn’t matter who you take your vehicle toas long as they’re able to ascertain that your car isprotected.

“I would take it to a qualified shop, someone who knows whatthey’re looking for or looking at,” he said. “Sometimes justbecause you’ve got green or red color doesn’t mean it’s all right.Antifreeze is like oil, it breaks down with the constant heating upand cooling down.”

That, Hall said, is why it’s important to keep antifreezeupdated no matter what time of year it is.

“It keeps it at the temperature it’s supposed to be,” she said.”It protects all your metals from the corrosion and damage thatwater can do, it stops it from freezing up in winter time, and inthe summer it keeps it from overheating.