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Cars struggling in Estonia's cold snap

A car covered in snow.
A car covered in snow. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Calls to vehicle assistance hotlines have increased five-fold during the freezing weather, which has dropped as low as -25 degrees (c) in some parts of Estonia this week. Most cases are related to flat batteries.

On Thursday, Automaailm's start-up assistance equipment shelf is empty. Due to the plunging temperatures sales of all cold-weather products have sharply increased in car dealerships, such as brushes, battery chargers, and de-icer.

But not everything can be fixed so easily. Many callers to roadside assistance companies need help with their vehicle's batteries.

"Our workload has increased by about five to six times compared to normal. /.../ At the moment, it's still mostly the batteries that want to get going - the long cold spells have taken the power out of the battery and the battery has gone flat and we have to intervene," explained the head of Redgo Estonia's operational service Tauno Kuum.

Some cars have also required more help, he said.

"It is also the case that for many it is not just the batteries that are faulty, but something else. Either it's the electronics, or the oil hasn't been changed, or some other maintenance hasn't been done, and then it won't start with the extra [eclectic] current, and only a workshop can help," Kuum told Thursday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Winter temperatures below -15 degrees have not been seen in Estonia for several years. Due to this, batteries have been neglected and small problems are now amplified by the weather, said Taavi Tiro, product manager of Automaailma.

"Eight out of the ten people who have contacted us have a flat battery, and maybe two just need a battery change, so these short trips around town – four, five, six kilometers – are not enough to recharge the battery in winter conditions. Longer trips of 50 to 60 kilometers are needed once a week. This would restore the battery's working order and rechargeability," explained Tiro.

Different vehicles have different batteries and this should be kept in mind, Tiro said. For example, southern European cars have smaller batteries

"New cars have so much electrical equipment, all of which requires electricity. From the seat heaters to the central locking motors, moisture and low voltage can get in, and a dead battery can prevent the doors from opening, for example," said Tiro.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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