There's nothing as wonderful as a bright spring morning, alive with the promise of melted snow and budding trees. Even in the warmest parts of the country, March brings with it the certitude that summer, and vacations, and vacation trips are not far away.

Your car is a hot mess, isn't it?

That's probably a bit how you feel after the long season of cold and darkness. With that in mind, here are five things you can do right now to help it spring forward.

1. Change the wiper blades. If you live where there's a lot of snow and ice, the blades have had a brutal winter. Even if you don't live where there's ice and salt ripping up the rubber, you probably haven't gotten around to this in a while. It'll change your view of the world.

2. Ditch the junk in your trunk. Some people think it's a jinx to take shovels and ice scrapers out of the trunk too soon. Be an optimist and remove kitty litter, gloves, boots and whatever other winter things you have in your car. Leave in jumper cables, work gloves, tire iron, flares and emergency triangle. Keep them corralled in a duffel or box. And leave in the emergency granola bars unless you've already eaten them at the first long traffic light.

3. Clean and vacuum. Neat trick A: Wet down the removable floor mats with warm water, then wet-vac them to get the maximum amount of road salt and grime off. Neat trick B: When vacuuming out the interior, use a stiff-bristled paintbrush to clear dirt out of the cracks and crevices. (I know, Martha Stewart-y, right?)

4. Get the insides of your windows clean. REALLY clean. This is the most important improvement you can make to your quality of life inside the car. When I drove a cab, I kept automotive glass cleaner and a roll of paper towels in the trunk. Avoid using household glass cleaners with ammonia, which can interact badly with tinted car windows.

5. Don't forget your tires, the only contact your car has with the earth. Tire pressure is battered when temps soar from negative numbers to the balmy climates of spring. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent with properly inflated tires. Check yours monthly, and obviously change from winter to summer tires if you've put snow tires on your car. Spring, like fall, is a good time to find sales on new tires.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Jean Jennings is a veteran automotive journalist with three decades of experience sharing her zany take on the world of cars. She is the former editor in chief of Automobile Magazine and is a frequent on-air commentator. Visit her website at www.jeanknowscars.com.

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©2015 Jean Knows Cars, LLC; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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