This page contains my expert opinion on why automotive service manuals are so important. As an ASE Certified Master Technician I can tell you the most important tools I own are my knowledge, experience and my access to high quality reference materials.
A good tree chart can make a struggling technician look like a genius. I still need help even though I have been turning wrenches for more then 30 years. I cant possibly remember everything related to the fast efficient repair of every car on the planet.
I find myself reaching for the auto service manuals help on many occasions. Since I’m not a walking computer I find it necessary to consult the service manual for many things. For example torque specs and tightening patterns.
These two pieces of information makes large expensive repairs like head-gasket replacements last longer. Who could possibly remember the hundreds of different specs for thousands of different automobiles.
Sometimes I look at a job I have never done before, lets say Replacing the by-pass hose on a Jaguar S-type or XJ6. I start by looking at the hose. I can’t get a clear shot at the spring clamps on both ends or even see the whole hose.
Now stuff is going to have to come off. But what stuff? The alternator, maybe the power steering pump or maybe even the AC compressor is the best route to gain access to the hose and spring clamps.
Service Manual or Start Guessing
Now I could start pulling the whole car apart, or I can grab a customized Jaguar factory service manual written specifically for this year and model to assure I’m removing only what’s necessary. This saves time, but also avoids breaking things that don’t have to be removed.
We are all familiar with the scenario of sometimes the bolt comes loose and sometimes the head just snaps off. Now we are spending hours removing the piece of the bolt, drilling and tapping the hole and maybe even a heala coil.
What if we never needed to remove the bolt in the first place. I think you understand what I’m getting at. Knowing the proper procedure and specifications not only saves time but also saves money and prevents auto repair disasters. Let me give you an example.
I was providing online help by fielding car questions on this web site until I hit the wall and it became too painful. It can be frustrating that people would rather pay for hundreds of dollars in unneeded parts and waste weeks or months on guessing what’s wrong.
Why not get the proper manual and be able to pinpoint the problem in a few hours or less and replace only the part that was needed. Let me give you an example. I had a younger guy e-mail me with a no start condition.
My first suggestion was to get a diagnostic chart online to properly diagnose the problem right the first time.
The online auto service manuals have the best no start diagnostic charts in the business because they come straight from the factory service manuals.
These are for the most part easy to follow tree charts with pictures and included tech tips. He told me he couldn’t afford it ($19.95) and he thought replacing the distributor would fix it. A new distributor was $600.00.
He bought it and this did not fix the problem. This expensive ignition part was also not returnable like most automotive electrical parts. Again I said cut your loses and get any kind of shop manual and diagnose the problem, don’t through parts at it. Well He replaced the coil, cap, rotor, and wires.
The engine still wouldn’t start up. Now he’s a thousand dollars deep in parts the car didn’t need. The guy who could not afford $19.95. Finally defeated, he towed the car to the dealer and they fixed it for about $600.00 by replacing the fuel pump.
I explained to him in a no start condition its either no fuel, no spark or rarely no air. The young man stated he was getting plenty of fuel, but he was mistaken.
The presence of visible liquid is not an indication of pressure. Most cars need at least 30 PSI to fire up. So $1,800 later he was driving again and mad at me for not helping him save money.
Step 1 in the diagnostic chart was an in-depth procedure with pictures and specifications for checking the fuel delivery side. A technical service bulletin on the fuel pump was published for this vehicle.
I was so frustrated I couldn’t reach this guy. He spammed me for years asking fake questions and wasting my time. The online help in the form of a downloadable PDF service manual can save you time and money on every maintenance service and repair.
Plus auto repairs you thought you could never do yourself, can be fun to perform with the step-by-step instructions, clear pictures and technical specifications available in these automotive reference materials.
Web Based Auto Repair Information
I factory service and repair information almost every day at work and this same material is available to the general public at reasonable prices. The agency I worked for payed thousands for the commercial usage of the service manuals that cover all vehicles.
Why are online versions different? For one, they are vehicle specific. The huge amount of information contained in these diagnostic help programs can make it hard to find needed information. It’s the old needle in a hay stack story.
Using the power of the PC helps organize these pages into easy to find sections. The chapter layout is very sensibly as with most auto service manuals. But now you scroll instead of flipping through pages. This turns searching into an efficient operation. See the video below for a demonstration of how it works.
Lets try an example not covered in the video of how a complete shop manual on your PC can make working on your car at home less painful. Lets say your replacing the fuel filter.
You open the file on your PC and scroll down to the fuel section. Next you double click that section or right click and then open. The PDF opens and supplies component location diagrams, torque specification, replacement part numbers and the service procedure that includes depressurizing the fuel system so you don’t get gas all over the place.
Now you can print it out take it to the vehicle and start the job. This online repair manual can make working on cars fun again. The PDF service manual program is like having the guy who built the car and knows every answer about it sitting on your desktop, phone, laptop or tablet.
On this next link you can learn more about this home auto repair subject and you can watch my demo video about the key features and see my opinion about the best auto repair manuals. Find out more about the car mechanic that built this automobile site on the homepage. The next link takes you to the car questions homepage.
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