Brutal cold takes toll on cars, air travel


BOZEMAN, Mont. - Go to start your car in the morning and it's easy to tell cold weather is taking its toll. But you might be surprised at bitterly cold temperatures are affecting air travel.

Mountain Express's Josh Hossner has been getting a lot of calls about car trouble with the onset of frigid temperatures. He says, in extremely cold weather, your battery is the first things to go. "If your battery isn't good, it won't start," says Hossner. Hossner says it's also important to keep a close eye on your coolant. He explains, over time the freeze point may rise. Plus, if you've ever added water, it puts your engine at risk. "If it's not up to par, it freezes and, as you know, water expands when it freezes so, it's inside your motor and when it freezes, it expands and cracks your block," explains Hossner. That's your engine block and there's no easy fix. It's why Hossner recommends you get a mechanic to check fluids like oil and anti-freeze. In extreme cold, you may also notice low tire pressure, but Hossner says that's less of a concern. "Check your tires and, if they look okay when it warms up, your pressure's going to come back and you're probably down just a pound or two and it's not a big issue," Hossner says. In fact, mechanics say less pressure can help provide more traction on slick, icy roads. Meanwhile, icy roads are no concern for air travelers. "It's not uncommon that while the rest of the roads are icy or snowpacked, runway here at the airport is as close to bare and dry as we can get it," says Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Director Brian Sprenger. Sprenger tells us their crews spend close to 20 hours a day managing snow and ice, allowing for less than an eighth of snow on the runway. But on a nice sunny day, snow and ice are less of an issue for aircraft. "When we get the bigger de-icing delays is right around the freezing temperature because we'll get a lot of snow and that starts to freeze on the airplane," says Sprenger. Sprenger says their biggest concern in this type of weather is personnel. "The cold effects us personally. We move a little slower, were a little bit more careful and the people working around the aircraft doing the same thing," explains Sprenger. He says the challenge comes when the airplane is on the ground, ensuring water lines are heated. It's why airplanes are equipped with internal systems and why the airport has ground heaters for them. He says the challenge comes when the airplane is on the ground, ensuring they're heated either through internal systems or ones the airport provides. It's not so different from the block heaters many folks have in their car to keep coolant warm for an easier start in the morning. Hossner tells us block heaters make a world of difference. He says they're relatively affordable and keep your coolant warm for an easy start in the morning.