My shop foreman once told me that a service manual can make the worst mechanic seem like a genius. Tools are to mechanics as blood is to the human body. One of the most important tools can be a diagnostic tree chart or ladder diagram.
Hear me out before turning the page. I see people avoid purchasing an auto repair manual because they considered it a wasteful expenditure. When in fact it may provide the most bang for your buck. The most efficient way to get between two points is a straight line.
Auto service manuals can provide this point-to-point route saving you valuable time on the journey to a fixed car. There is no way for a professional technician to remember all of the different procedures and specifications needed to repair cars properly.
This also applies to even the most experienced do-it-yourself driveway mechanic. Good solid repair information, plus a little knowledge and experience will bring you to the desired result of fixing the car right on the first attempt.
It can also take you there in a straight line with the least amount of frustration. It might even lower the cost of replacing parts you thought were bad, but are actually functioning as per design intent, because the diagnostic tree charts help you test individual components.
The most reliable source of information about a specific vehicle comes from the company that builds it. Car makers create a complete set of repair diagrams and auto service manuals for the cars it produces.
Although this information is created mainly for professional mechanics that service those models at the dealership level it can also provide a tremendous amount of assistance to DIY auto mechanics. Since many inherent problems develop on certain car lines service manuals need to be constantly updated.
This is what separates the professional auto repair information from the do it yourself information found in auto parts stores. If you work at a dealership your shop is supplied with updates referred to as technical service bulletins. In the old days they sent the paper bulletins to the shop and they were physically added to the repair manuals.
It's more common today for these updates about common problems to be issued online in a database format. It is also becoming more common for car repair manuals to be published by independent companies rather than the car makers themselves.
This makes the communication between the manufacturer and the publisher extremely important. Some companies are better at this communication process than others. And this is why the quality of the repair information will differ between car lines.
In some cases the publishers try to condense the format to much. This allows for more coverage in less physical space. This can also make the car repair information less specific. It is not uncommon for mechanic's either professional or driveway to have to use their brain more then expected. Sometimes you have to put the pieces together to get the vehicle repaired the right way on the first attempt.
This is why basic knowledge of automotive systems is so important. This know how and experience is used in combination with the reference material on the fly to solve complicated car problems.
Sticking with one brand of service manual can be helpful as you will become familiar with the lay out and location of specific information. Just like getting use to a new tool like a complex automotive meter.
The more time you spend with the new tool the better you become at using it. This is no different when you use a car repair manual. The more you use it, the more familiar you become with the layout. The more you practice with it the more efficient your repairs will become. In the long run this is time well spent.
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I shot a screen capture video that walks you through a typical repair using online car service manuals.
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