IT'S OUR TURN: Car sends me weird messages when it’s cold

I just with it would stop fat-shaming me at the McDonald's drive-through.

Robin Fish, staff reporter
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise

A few years ago, I wrote in a column like this that something needs to be done about winter in Park Rapids, where – for example – freezing fog often produces a special recipe of frost that resists being scraped off your windshield.

This winter, though, has been off the hook. Since the snow flew, I’ve been experiencing things I never thought of before – or not very often, anyway.

I actually complained about it to Park Rapids Public Works Superintendent Scott Burglingame. He said his staff is doing all they can.

Winter of 2022-23, how weird are you? Let me count the ways. Most of them have to do with weird little messages my car sends me on the coldest days. A cry for help, maybe.

For several weeks, there was a hump of ice at the intersection of my street and State Hwy. 34, where I had to stop before turning onto the highway multiple times a day. Each time I tried to move on, my car’s tires would spin and sometimes the front end would slew around before the traction would bite.


With oncoming traffic getting nearer every moment, it made for many a nerve-wracking moment. Despite hundreds of vehicles passing over it every day, that ice hump refused to wear away.

Speaking of ice, I’ve become used to the winter phenomenon that I call “ice boogers” accumulating in the wheel wells of my car. Maybe it’s a design quirk of my car model, but it beats anything I experienced before I moved here.

This year’s ice boogers have been particularly snotty. They often build up to the point where I have to pull over and knock them off the car because they interfere with turning corners. Then they build up again, as bad as before, sometimes within only a short trip.

A few weeks ago, I busted a heavy-duty windshield scraper while trying to knock the ice boogers off my car. Someone suggested I was using the wrong tool, that I should kick them off. But I don’t want what happened to my scraper to happen to my shoes or my feet.

This past week, the brush-end of my new windshield scraper froze to the carpet in my car. I had to pull with all my strength to tear it free. I’ve never seen that happen before.

It’s probably a mistake to leave it in my car, since the bristles are so stiffly frozen that they’re no good for brushing snow. But bringing them indoors to thaw out is a sure step toward forgetting to bring them outdoors again and being caught brushless by a midday snow squall.

No variation on the theme of windshield frost can surprise me anymore, at least when it’s on the outside of my windshield. But what about the times I’ve found a second layer of frost growing on the inside?

I think I’m on my fourth car battery since I moved here. Maybe that’s OK, since I’m also on my second car. Even with a new-ish battery, I still say a prayer on sub-zero mornings when my car’s engine struggles to turn. Will a pump at the gas pedal do the trick? Pleeease.…


On those same mornings, when the dashboard temperature reads -20, every crack in the pavement feels like a huge bump. I haven’t decided if it’s because my car’s suspension is frozen stiff, or because the tires are still in the flattened-oval shape they assume while being parked all night in the open air. Ka-bump, ka-bump, ka-bump.…

Another message from my 10-year-old “new” car comes when its driver’s window freezes shut on cold mornings. It’s as if General Motors is looking out for my health – subtly telling me, “Oh, no you don’t, sonny Jim! No drive-through junk food for you!”

Yeah, yeah, car. That’s enough out of you.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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