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Watch for potholes and large puddles

After months of icy conditions, asphalt roads may be chipped and damaged, leaving large potholes in the road. After a spring shower, potholes can be deceptive as there’s no telling how deep a puddle lies. No matter what you’re driving, do your best to avoid potholes, which can damage your tires and even your undercarriage. Because they can come up quickly, it’s best to maintain a safe distance between your car and any vehicles in front of you, giving you enough time to spot them on the road. Try to avoid any sudden swerves if you can.

And when potholes unavoidable, slow down and try to take them as gently as possible. If you hit a particularly nasty bump, keep an ear out for any noises coming from your exhaust, as well as any shaking or drifting, which could mean a problem with your vehicle’s alignment. When safe to do so, pull over and check your tires for pressure, cracks, or bulges—which should be repaired immediately if found.

Seasonal maintenance

Tires are not the only season-specific equipment to monitor on your car. As the weather warms up, refill your windshield wiper fluid with an all-season or warm-weather formula, and check the wiper blades for any damage they may have accumulated after months of scraping ice. Even if the blades seem fine, they should be tightened and cleaned. Then, take your car to get a good wash to get rid of all that winter grime (don’t forget the undercarriage, where road salt can accumulate), and consider adding a coat of wax to protect against spring showers. Last but not least, spring is a good season to take your car for its yearly check, as winter driving can be rough on a car’s alignment and more.

Freeze-thaw cycles mean roads may still be icy

Though spring means warmer weather, thaws don’t happen all at once. Especially in early spring, temperatures frequently dip at or below the freezing point. Combine this with rain and wet weather, and ice can stick along roads much later into the year than one might expect. So just because the sun is shining and the weather is warming up, be prepared for ice on the roads, and be particularly cautious of black ice.

Time to share the road

Warm weather means the end of winter hibernation, so be on the lookout for animals, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists who’ve come outside to enjoy the nice weather. Drive slowly, remain aware of your surroundings, and remember to share the road.

Inspect your tires and take off your winter treads

Don’t remove your winter tires as soon as the temperatures reach above freezing—wait until the average temperature settles above 7 degrees Celsius. This way, you can be assured that the roads have properly thawed. In the meantime, check your tire pressure consistently, as the frequent temperature changes can cause your tire pressure to fluctuate. Check your tire pressure any time the temperature changes, and definitely make sure your summer tires are properly pressurized when it’s time to put the winter tires back in storage.

In some ways, winter driving is actually safer than spring and summer. In one study, it found car fatalities drop with high amounts of snow, due to the fact that people either stay home or drive with care. But when spring arrives, drivers can be lulled into a false sense of security, believing roads are clean and clear, when in fact there are just different sets of dangers.