The days are getting warmer, the ice has melted and the birds have returned. That can mean only one thing-spring has sprung. For many people, spring brings a return to the great outdoors. It can also mean less treacherous and time consuming driving. No more digging your car out just to go to work, driving at a snail’s pace and scraping, yes, the dreaded scraping.

While it’s tempting to jump in your vehicle and enjoy the freedom that spring brings to driving, keep in mind that like you, your car has been through a lot over the winter. There are several things that need to be checked and prepared for spring driving. Depending on your level of car maintenance expertise, you may be able to do most of these things yourself. If not, have a professional take a look under the hood.

Begin where the rubber meets the road-your tires. Check your tire pressure. The correct pressure will be printed on the tire in PSI (pounds per square inch). If the tire is under the recommended PSI, inflate it to that number … don’t over inflate it. This may also be a good time to get your tires rotated. This should be done every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

For many areas, spring means rain so it’s a good time to check your wiper blades. There are few things more annoying than driving in the rain with wiper blades that aren’t doing their job. It’s frustrating to have a big smear across your field of vision or a torn wiper blade trailing across your windshield. Avoid these problems b checking your wiper blades. Replacing the blades is quick, easy and relatively inexpensive. Simply go into your local auto part store, tell them your vehicle make and model, and they’ll direct you to the correct replacement blade. Many stores will even install them for you.

Another part that is easy to check is your battery. Pop the hood and make sure that the posts on the battery are clean. If there is an excess of corrosion on the battery, consider replacing it.

Clean out the interior. Months of salty and snowy boots have no doubt taken a toll on the carpeting. It’s a good time to vacuum and perhaps even shampoo the carpeting. While you’re at it, clean out the empty coffee cups and fast food bags.

Other things to consider are the air filter, the oil and oil filter, and the radiator and cooling system. Spring is a time to get reacquainted with the great outdoors-just make sure your vehicle is ready to spring into better weather.

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