MARQUETTE — With winter rolling through the Upper Peninsula a bit ahead of schedule, it’s time again for residents to start gearing up their vehicles for those cold winter drives.

While routine maintenance is always important, some drivers may overlook specific parts of the vehicle that are essential to drivability in the cold and snow.

Keeping windshield wipers in good shape can help to improve visibility on wintry roads.

“If your wiper blades look like they have pieces of pasta hanging off of them because they’re all shredded and frayed, it’s probably time to change your wiper blades. Those are really, really important,” said Frei Chevrolet Owner Jim Grundstrom. “It’s really important to keep your washer solvent bottle full, because with all the salt on the road today, you want to be able to see out (of) your windshield.”

Properly inflated tires are also crucial to staying safe on ice and snow. Maintaining manufacturer specified tire pressure is important year-round. Some drivers are opting to install snow tires for the winter, which can provide improved traction where the rubber meets the snow. Making sure your tire treads aren’t too worn down is also a key to keeping a grip on the road.

“Tread depth is the critical factor,” Grundstrom added. “If you’re thinking you’re sliding around town at the moment a little more than normal, you probably are, and it would be worth going to your nearest service facility and have someone check for the depth of your tires. Your tires might be perfect for next summer, but they’re not going to be good for this winter.”

Drivers should also make sure that their car’s electrical system, including the battery and alternator, are in good working order.