The snow is melting and the sun is lingering in the sky a bit longer these days. Spring is almost upon us, finally, so we can now put our winter driving worries behind us—or can we?

While this might be true for most folks, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t perform a little end-of-winter car maintenance before you hit the roads. Snow, ice and freezing conditions can take their toll on your poor car. Here’s some advice about how to prep your vehicle for the spring and summer driving months lying ahead:

Check Your Car Battery

Cold weather can hammer your battery hard. Cables may corrode and the overall battery charge can be significantly diminished. Dimming headlights and interior lights, as well as slower-moving power windows and sunroofs—these are signs that your battery has been overworked during the winter months. That means it’s time for a rigorous battery checkup.

Check Engine Fluid Levels

Your car or truck needs lots of fluids, just like the human body, in order to run smoothly. You should check your engine oil on a regular basis, of course, but you also need to keep an eye on coolant levels, power-steering fluid levels, transmission fluid levels and windshield wiper liquid. A well-lubricated vehicle is a happy vehicle, which in turns makes for a happy driver.

Check Your Windshield Wiper Blades, Car Body and Tires

Hail, snow and churned-up road grime (gravel and mud) can crack or weaken your windshield wiper blades. Once the snow melts, clean them thoroughly, and make sure they don’t need to be replaced or tightened down. You’ll also want to check your car’s body for signs of rust or damage that you might have missed (probably due to the freezing cold and snow accumulation) during the winter. If you find rust or chipped-off paint, repair it as soon as possible.

While you’re at it, check your tire pressure. Make sure all of your tires are inflated to the recommended level and ready for the springtime driving conditions.

Verify the Strength of Your Belts and Hoses

With harsh weather comes wear and tear. Cracks in your engine’s belts and hoses are just a part of driving. Make sure your belts and hoses are in good shape. If you replace any that seem worn out now, you'll save yourself a lot of time and trouble down the road.

Go Over Your Brakes

Brakes can get a pretty hard workout during the winter. Stopping in time is key to good driving when ice and snow rule the road. You might have also put a little extra pressure on your brakes when you tried to avoid a winter collision. Brake pads and brake linings should be checked to ensure that they’re all in tiptop shape. You always want to be able to stop your car in a timely fashion, no matter what’s going on outside with the weather.

Watch Out for Potholes

Don't get mad at the city or county because of all the potholes that pop up come spring. Water and moisture creates road damage, and potholes are one of the inevitable results. After the snow melts, stay alert, watch for holes in the pavement, and drive through puddles and muddy patches with care—they just might be hiding a monster pothole, waiting to devour your car.

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