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  • Winter survival
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  • By Jordan W. Charness

    Bah! Humbug! I admit it. When it comes to winter I’m an absolute curmudgeon. With what appears to be record snowfalls and nonstop winter storms right across the country I’m sure I’m not the only one who has already had his fill of the fluffy white stuff smacking him square in the face and making driving, walking, and getting around treacherous, distasteful, annoying, irritating, exasperating, aggravating, and just plain cold!!!

    While it’s tough on us humans, winter is even tougher on our automobiles. One winter storm dumping 40 cm or more of snow in less than one day plays havoc with our entire transportation system. When a storm hits, those of us with a possibility to do so head for the nearest warm shelter and wait out the storm praying that electricity does not cut out sending us back to the Middle Ages sitting in the dark relying on candles and fireplaces for heat and light.

    Our cars on the other hand are for the most part stuck outside braving the storm without even a little bit of shelter. Car shelters in Canada tend to come in three varieties. 1) none at all, 2) a temporary outside shelter, 3) or a nice warm toasty indoor garage. Each one of the shelters comes with their own legal problems and issues.

    The “none at all” variety of shelter means that your car sits outside slowly turning into a great white igloo that only vaguely resembles a car. More than one unfortunate car owner has cleared off the snow from his or her car with nothing more than bare hands and a credit card only to find that the car that they thought was their own was not. All igloo shaped cars look pretty much alike. While legally there is a principle that no one else is allowed to benefit from your hard work without paying you for your efforts the chances of collecting on this type of debt are about as likely as a snowstorm in July.

    The same snow-covered vehicles are easy prey for accidental clipping by snow removal vehicles who fail to differentiate or navigate between your car and the snow bank that they’re trying to clear. In general if your car is damaged by a snow removal vehicle, the entity in charge of the snow approval is responsible to pay for damage caused to your car. If your car has to be towed away in order to facilitate street snowplowing, the city is responsible to make sure that their contractors do the job without damaging your car.

    I’m told that after a major snowstorm several thousand vehicles are towed by the city in order for them to be able to properly clear the streets of snow. While this drastically hampers snow removal efforts it’s probably a lot easier to let the city tow your car away and pay the tickets than it is to dig it out using your bare hands and a credit card.

    Some municipalities allow temporary parking shelters that kind of look like overgrown tents to be erected on private property. While the shelters are not legal everywhere, even when they are legal they do present their own problems. I recently heard of the case where there was a common driveway between two houses used by both owners. One of the owners put up a temporary car shelter on his half of the driveway. The other owner was parked next to it using the “none at all” method of car sheltering. In the last big storm the car shelter collapsed tipping over and landing on Mr. “none at all’s” car causing $3,000 worth of damage.

    Mr. “car shelter” tried to avoid paying for the damage by claiming that the storm was an act of God and therefore was not his fault. While the storm may not have been his fault he is responsible for any damage caused by items that he owns including collapsing temporary car shelters.

    A heated garage of course may provide you with a toasty warm car to get into but you still have to navigate the snow-covered driveway to reach the street. In many municipalities it is illegal to clear the snow from your driveway and dump it on the street and you have to blow or push all that snow onto your own property where it creates a giant mountain hiding your house until the snow melts many moons from now. Explain it to me again�. why do some people like winter?

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