- Check the health of your tyres
- Give your car a spring clean
- Watch out for cyclists and bikers
1. Beware the glare
The months leading up to summer can bring glimmers of good weather but they also typically involve lots of rain.
A wet road and a sun that sits low in the sky cause distracting glare. Avoid unnecessary car insurance claims and pop a pair of sunglasses in the glovebox.
"Drivers should also make sure the windscreen, both inside and out, is free of smears with a good glass cleaning product," recommends Lucy Moore, car-cleaning expert at Halfords.
2. Check tyre pressure, tread depth and condition
Regularly checking the health of tyres is an important part of car maintenance and it's vital all year round to reduce the risk of accidents, but extended use over the winter period could have reduced pressure and damaged the tyre.
"Run-ins with potholes and kerbs hidden by winter debris can cause damage to a tyre and reduce pressure," explains Stuart Jackson, chairman of the charity TyreSafe.
"Drivers should also check the tread is above 1.6mm – the legal limit – as it determines how quickly a vehicle can brake, change direction and clear water from the road surface to avoid aquaplaning," he adds.
3. Make sure the air-conditioning and heating works
Spring temperatures can be changeable, so it's good practice to make sure the heaters and air conditioning work, particularly when clearing a misty windscreen in the chilly mornings.
"Air con dries the air, clearing misted-up windscreens much faster than waiting for the heaters to warm up," explains Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
4. Valet the car's interior
Muddy boots, dirty jeans and soggy dogs can really mess up a car's interior, so it's worth giving the seats, carpets and boot a good deep clean in the spring months.
"Stubborn or trodden-in dirt can be a pain to remove and could even reduce the value of your car when it's time to sell on," says Moore.
5. Check the undercarriage for salt corrosion
The salt used on the roads during winter may be great for clearing snow and ice but it can also damage and corrode the metal undercarriage of your car. It's worth having a look for any signs of rust or corrosion and cleaning the affected area if possible.
"A pressure washer with a special angled lance is a great way of cleaning the wheel arches and under body of a car," recommends Moore.
6. Switch back to summer tyres if necessary
Those who live in areas that experience adverse weather conditions during the winter may have switched to special winter tyres for improved grip in snow and icy conditions.
"Spring is the time to switch back, because winter tyres are designed to work at temperatures below 7°C," explains Jackson.
"Stopping distances and the overall performance of winter tyres can be affected when weather warms up," he says.
7. Check the battery before hitting the road
Perhaps not essential on a modern vehicle that has been used regularly throughout the winter, but for those with weekend run-arounds or a Sunday sports car that has been packed away during the colder months, it's important to check.
"There's nothing worse than heading out to enjoy the first drive of spring, only to breakdown miles away from home due to a flat or dodgy battery," says Nick Francis, motoring editor at Sun Motors.
"Use a digital multimeter to check battery levels or purchase a good trickle charger to keep batteries topped up," he recommends.
8. Be aware of other road users
Warmer days and longer evenings typically see a whole host of other road users heading out to make the most of the favourable conditions. Be extra vigilant and watch out for cyclists and motorcycle riders who are perhaps taking to the roads for the first time since winter.
"Spring is usually the time that motorcyclists begin their season on two wheels, but the weather can sometimes make biking difficult," explains Francis.
"Give them some extra space and keep your eye out for any potential dangers," he adds.
9. Ensure lights are working correctly
Fog is a common sight in spring, especially during the cooler mornings when many embark on the busy daily commute, so it's work checking all of the vehicle's lights are in working order.
"It's important to switch your lights on in poor visibility," explains Shallcross. "Don't rely on daytime running lights at the front, as you won't be visible to anyone approaching from the rear."
The first drive of spring, when the sun is out and the roads are clear of snow, is one of the most enjoyable experiences a motorist can have. However, it's important for anyone hitting the roads to make sure their car is ready; otherwise what would be a joy can quickly turn into a chore.