Free Car Repair Manuals: Myth or Fact?
For the do-it-yourselfer, repairing your own vehicle can save you hundreds of dollars, but what if you don't want to shell out money for a repair manual you may only use once or you want to find free car repair manuals? The answer is that there are many sources where you can get free auto repair manuals and information.
To start however, if you're looking for the definitive authority on repairing your own car, truck, or SUV, a Helm's Factory Service Manual (FSM) is the way to go.
Ranging in price from $50 to more than $200, these publications cover full maintenance and repair procedures for your vehicle. They also contain electrical information and specifications. The Helm's books are also superior to Haynes and Chilton's repair manuals, the latter two being generic and not as comprehensive.
Repair Manuals Online
- One great place to try is AutoZone's website. The site has a very comprehensive listing of free auto repair guides covering most makes and models of vehicles from 1950 to the present. It also features Z-net, an electronic catalog that lets users not only look up the parts they need, it also helps them get the job done right the first time by providing complete job solutions, advice and information for their vehicles.
- Napa Auto Part's website provides tutorials on basic auto maintenance such as oil changes, checking fluid levels and replacing air filters.
Message Boards and Forums
One great resource is autos.com. Here you can search through lots of topics on auto repair, troubleshooting and maintenance. Carsdirect.com is another terrific site.
There are also many other forums and message boards available online, as well as peer-based groups. Just type in auto repair forums or message boards in any search engine and you'll see quite a few. Be sure to watch out for ones that say they are free but try to sell you something, or say you can post questions, but must pay a fee to receive an answer. You'll most likely find free auto repair guides and all the information that you need, so there's no need to pay for help.
Another often overlooked option for free auto repair manuals is your local library. Most libraries have repair manuals in their reference sections, and although you can't check them out and take them with you, you're welcome to make photocopies of any pages you need from the manuals.
A lot of local libraries also subscribe to on-line auto repair manuals such as Chilton's or Haynes and offer free access if you have a library card. Contact your local library and ask if this service is available.
If you really prefer to have a paper manual, check half.com, an eBay company that sells used books for a fraction of the price of new. Some of the manuals are as low as $1.99. There are several other used book websites like Alibris and Bookfinder.com as well.
You can also check local used book stores. And don't forget to ask friends and family. Who knows? Someone may have just the manual you need collecting dust in the garage.