Replace Your Wiper Blades
DIY Savings: $20
It’s easy to tell when your blades need replacing. Simply press the washer button and see if they wipe the windshield clean. If you see streaks, the blades are done. The auto parts store will have lots of economy blades, but get a name brand instead (such as ANCO, TRICO or Bosch). They cost more, but their higher-quality rubber wipes better, has better UV protection and lasts longer. Follow the installation instructions on the package. Be sure you have a firm grip on the wiper arm once you remove the old blade. If it gets away from you, it can hit the windshield with enough force to crack it.
Shake Your PCV Valve
DIY Savings: $12
If your car has a PCV valve (some late-model cars don’t), pull it out every other oil change. In most cases, you’ll find the valve on the top of the engine, connected to a vacuum hose. Slide the vacuum hose off the valve and unscrew the valve. Then perform the world’s easiest diagnostic test: Shake it. If it makes a metallic clicking sound, it’s good. If it doesn’t make noise or sounds mushy, replace it ($4). But don’t replace it on appearance alone—all used PCV valves look dirty.
Need help locating your PCV valve? Buy a short subscription to an online factory service manual, which you can get at sites such as eautorepair.net and oem1stop.com. Non-factory manuals are cheaper, but they’re skimpy on instructions and diagrams for repairs like this.