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Auto repair shops seeing business boom as snow piles up

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DULUTH, MN-- Several snowstorms over the last few weeks have left road conditions less than ideal.

In fact, law enforcement agencies across the region have reported dozens of crashes due to the recent weather, including a pile up on the highway Thursday morning.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, troopers responded to 155 crashes statewide between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Specifically in Duluth, police said there were 15 crashes in the city between 10 p.m. Wednesday night and 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Driving in snowy conditions can be a hassle, but there are ways that you can prepare your car to brave the elements, and drivers in the Twin Ports are flocking to find solutions.

Auto repair and tire shops are seeing steady business, thanks to road conditions and winter weather.

"Everybody wants snow plows, everybody wants tires. it is absolute chaos right now," said Mike Lawrey, the manager of Pro Tire in Hermantown.

Lawrey says they average 30 to 35 appointments a day for snow tires.

"This is pretty common this time of year, but due to the weather this time, I don't think anyone was expecting so much snow this early in the game. So it's been pretty intense," Lawrey said.

Local shops say in addition to new tires, the majority of issues they've seen are mechanical problems due to cold and snow - like failing batteries, heating and cooling systems, break changes and coolant leaks.

The owner of AutoMedics Repair Shop in Duluth, Mike Archer, says these are all things drivers should look out for before hitting the roads.

"We keep getting these little snow bursts, and they can't get up the hills, well they probably haven't had their tires looked at and their car serviced, and the reality is that they're riding around on tires that frankly aren't gonna work in this weather," Archer said.

He says while you can get accessories to make driving in the snow easier, every car is different, and it's important to know what your car can handle.

"Go drive it somewhere away from people, out on a country road, and step on the breaks so that you understand how long it takes you to physically stop," Archer said.

Overall, the safest way to drive in the winter - if you have to drive at all - is to take it slow.

"Take your time! Give yourself the extra time you need to get places, it's real important to do that. Even with a great tire, you still need to take your time getting places," Lawrey said.

Mike Lowrey with Pro Tire says getting snow and ice tires is one of the best things you can do to combat those covered roads.

He says tires specifically made for snow will provide more traction than all-season or all-weather tires, and make a noticeable difference.

Other safe driving tips can be found here.

Jenna Wells

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