You don’t get the moniker of “The Doctor of Cars” unless you earned it. Bill Gardiner learned from an early age about the importance of properly scheduled maintenance and turned his love of cars and his keen eye for the details into a career. 

Son of a World War II Canadian Forces mechanic, Bill Gardiner earned his Interprovincial 310S Auto Mechanics License in July 1977 and began a career of his own in the auto repair industry. He also maintained a car care column for the Toronto Star Newspaper and has appeared weekly on TSN’s Motoring TV and for all of its 30 years on television.

So, he knows what he’s talking about. 

Lucky for you, Bill was kind enough to stop by for a car care Q&A session where he offered tips and advice for transitioning your car from winter to summer. Here are some actionable tips from the man himself:

Considering the rough winter we’ve endured the past few months, what are the most important areas for motorists to check on their vehicles?

BG: “Motor oil is always one of the first areas I check on a vehicle after the winter. Cold startups are among the most severe conditions that engines undergo, so cold temperatures can wreak havoc on an engine if it is not cared for properly. 

Another important area is wiper blades. 96% of driving decisions are based off what we see. If your wiper blades are cracked or split you’re not going have good vision.  We put our wiper blades to use frequently during the winter so the rubber is often worn by spring. Drivers can look for tearing, excessive noise or streaking on the windshield as signals that their wiper blades have reached the end of their lifespan and should be replaced to ensure proper vision when spring showers hit.”

We’re packing away our snow boots, what about our winter tires? 

BG: “Once temperatures reach above 7 degrees Celsius, I recommend removing your winter tires and putting on all-season tires. An all-season set of tires will offer you a better grip which can be beneficial when roads get slick during the rainy spring season and can usually offer some increased fuel economy. 

To check your treads, all you have to do is stick the probe into a groove of the tire and press the shoulders of the probe flat against the tread block and read the result. A new tire with proper treads should have a reading of 5/32” or more, a tread depth of 3/32” to 4/32” you should consider replacing and a tread depth of 2/32” or less you should replace immediately. 

Tire inflation pressure really is the foundation of all your tires’ performance. Even a new, high quality tire won’t give safe performance if it’s underinflated. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your tires, check tire pressure at least once a month to be safe.”

While under the hood, which areas can folks at home look at to see if their vehicle needs maintenance? 

BG: “The engine air filter is very important to the protection of your engine. If its clogged up, it restricts the performance and fuel economy of your vehicle. You don’t want any contaminants passing through the air filter into your engine. While you’re under the hood it’s a good idea to check if your cabin air filter is clean or dirty from sucking up salt, dust and sand over the winter.”

What is an often overlooked area that can save dollars with preventative care? 

BG: “The steering and suspension components are essential to the vehicle, but their maintenance can often be overlooked. Winter build up from salt can take a toll on your vehicles ball joints and tie rods that can cause serious wear making the vehicle unsafe to drive. Additionally, in the spring time when all the snow melts, our roads are often left with pot holes. Hitting pot holes is not always avoidable but can lead to alignment issues causing your steering wheel to not handle correctly.”


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