Frozen roads heat up local auto-parts industry



Article Published: Jan. 7, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Frozen roads heat up local auto-parts industry

New River Tire and Alignment's Lance Critcher examines a hot seller.

Photo by Lauren K. Ohnesorge



Winter weather means big business for the local auto-parts industry.

Just ask New River Tire and Alignment's Lance Critcher. The past three weeks have been the busiest he has seen on his 14 years on the job.

"This is a boost to our economy," he said.

Winter is usually the slow season.

"We're making up for it this year," he said.

Snow chains are the big seller. New River has sold over fifty sets this month. Auto shops all over Watauga are selling out, but snow chains are not for everyone.

"It depends on where you're going to go and how you're going to drive with them. It's not something you want to put on your car and drive down the highway," Boone Advanced Auto Parts' pro Dave Bower said.

If you plan on staying in the High Country, a good set is worth the cost, said Beech Mountain Police Captain Jerry Turbyfill. BMPD are the resident snow-driving experts, battling some of the highest snowfall totals regularly.

"If you buy a nice set of chains and take care of them, they'll last you years," he said.

Chains can break if you exceed 35 miles per hour. Turbyfill recommends switching out chains when the road is "reasonably clear." With practice, it takes about 15 minutes to put on chains and about two minutes to take them off, he said.

Chains are not the only thing bringing in the business. Customers flocked Advanced Auto this week in Boone, eager to purchase wiper blades, scrapers and de-icing sprays. Bower recommended a fuel additive and making sure your battery is strong before trekking out.

Regardless, all three experts agreed tires are important. Several companies offer specialized winter tires, but you should talk to a parts specialist to find the right tire for you.
In the meantime, "make sure your tires have a lot of tread," Critcher said.

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