As brutally cold weather blasts the eastern half of the United States, business has heated up for some auto parts stores.
In Indianapolis, where early-morning temperatures on Jan. 2 dipped to minus 12 degrees – tying a record set in 1887 – the NAPA Auto Parts store at 415 W. McCarty St. has seen a “massive” spike in sales, according to manager Brian Webb.
The NAPA store sold out of the Power Service Diesel 9-1-1 fuel additive, Webb told Counterman on Jan. 3, and batteries have been flying off the shelf.
“We still have some batteries, but our supply right now is pretty low,” Webb added.
Likewise, at O’Reilly Auto Parts store No. 1536 in Bismarck, N.D., “it’s hard to keep batteries on the shelf,” manager Geoff Whitworth told Counterman.
ISO-HEET, a fuel-line antifreeze/injector cleaner, also has been a hot-selling item, along with Diesel 9-1-1 and other fuel additives, according to Whitworth.
Still, nothing has been hotter than batteries.
“Our battery shelf has been naked at times,” Whitworth said, although he credited O’Reilly’s support team and distribution centers for replenishing sold-out products quickly.
Business has been booming for about three weeks, according to Whitworth. Much of that has come from the DIY side, as repair shops had limited hours during the holidays.
He said walk-in DIY traffic has “absolutely jumped through the roof.”
“We were open New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and that definitely helped us,” Whitworth told Counterman. “It was cold.”
Advance Auto Parts in Watertown, N.Y., is dealing with the same weather-driven surge in demand, according to a recent article in the Watertown Daily Times. A store supervisor told the newspaper that the store had sold out of windshield wipers and diesel additives, and that battery sales had jumped significantly.
During the cold spell, customers have had plenty of questions about how to keep their vehicles running. NAPA’s Webb said his staff recommends using premium fuel in this type of weather.
“A higher-octane fuel has less water in it,” Webb said.
Whitworth’s staff cautions customers that excessive idling isn’t necessary to warm up the engine in most newer vehicles. It isn’t safe either, as someone could steal the car while it’s running.
“For most vehicles, it takes three minutes to heat that thing up,” Whitworth added.
However, he recommends running the engine for a few minutes if the vehicle is going to be sitting for more than 24 hours.