Baking here in the hot, humid New York City summer, I contemplated the contrast with the Canadian winter.

In Canada, my car had a remote starter to warm up the car on the street before stepping out. You’re almost glad you don’t have a garage to keep the car warm overnight, because with so much salt on the road for melting snow and ice, you wouldn’t want to warm up your car every night and give that salt and water a boost, accelerating rusting, oxidation, and paint deterioration. I guess thoroughly washing off the salt from the top and bottom of the car would work, but that’s definitely not feasible to do every day. Better to keep it outside far below freezing.

On the extra cold mornings where the temperature would reach –30°C (–22°F), I would prestart the engine before going out to go to work. That brought up the engine and oil temperature and started to provide some heat. Still, even after nearly 10 minutes running, when I would sit down inside and close the car door, breathing out would create a billowing cloud of water vapor that would fog up the windshield.

Winter tires in Canada are a requirement, not just practicality. There are laws at the province level requiring winter tires from winter start to winter end. These tires have more aggressive treads for gripping snowy roads. More importantly, the rubber formulation is more pliable at lower temperatures…. Temperatures that for weeks on end never rise above –12°C (10°F). And that’s the daily high temperature.

Still, on those coldest mornings, even the softer rubber of the winter tires gets a bit brittle when it freezes. When you parked the car the night before, the tires were just a bit flat where they touched the driveway, which is normal from the weight of the car. But the slightly deformed tire would keep its shape as you pulled out of the driveway and down your residential street. Kathunk kathunk kathunk.