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Billings man helps jump cars over subzero weekend; battery store booms

Billings man helps jump cars over subzero weekend; battery store booms
Posted at 5:17 PM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-17 12:02:33-05

BILLINGS — Don Childers spent his weekend doing something many tried to avoid: Braving the negative temperatures.

“I put just under 200 miles on the vehicle this weekend,” Childers said. “(It was) extremely busy, extremely cold.”

Billings man helps jump cars over subzero weekend; battery store booms

Childers was busy driving around in his 2005 Dodge Stratus, helping people whose cars wouldn't start. He made a few posts on Facebook, some with advice on how to avoid a dead car battery and others offering help.

“I was able to help 14 people this weekend. Whether it was jump-starting their vehicle or diagnosing an issue that was creating a larger problem for them to be able to get help,” Childers said.

Billings man helps jump cars over subzero weekend; battery store booms

He said he wanted to help because he knows firsthand what it feels like to not have the kind of money to afford a new car battery or see a mechanic for assistance.

“I’m not out there to make money. I’m there to help others in my situation,” he said.

Childers' help extended far beyond the 14 people he was able to physically help because his social media posts reached at least 500 people.

Billings man helps jump cars over subzero weekend; battery store booms

But even more people in the state needed help with their vehicles this weekend.

Kim Lechner, the general manager at Batteries Plus Bulbs at 1145 Central Ave. in Billings, said the five locations he runs, from Billings to Missoula, saw around 1,000 purchases this weekend.

“Majority of it was car batteries," Lechner said. "Everyone thinks the cold kills the batteries but the extreme heat in the summer will kill the battery, and then it’ll show up first cold snap.”

Lechner said the Central Avenue location is their busiest store, with the staff working nonstop starting Thursday and finally calming down Tuesday.

Billings man helps jump cars over subzero weekend; battery store booms

“Doing almost 100 tickets a day through this store alone,” he said. “Changing car batteries, one after the other. You know, changing them out there outside at subzero weather.”

While the frigid temps have moved out of the Billings area for now, both Lechner and Childers said it's good to be prepared for when it happens again.

Billings man helps jump cars over subzero weekend; battery store booms

“Most people don’t think about changing the battery as a maintenance item, they don’t worry about it until it doesn’t work and then you have this situation you have. You know, about every five years it’s a good idea just to change it,” Lechner said.

Childers offered advice on how to avoid a dead battery when a cold streak hits, such as turning on the vehicle every two to three hours.

“If they’re mechanically inclined like I advised, they can take their battery out, set it in the house and keep it warm, and put it back in the following morning. It’ll start for them,” Childers said. “If I can help others then by all means, I want to help them.”