One of the best ways of understanding your car and what to do when it develops problems is to go through a factory repair manual. However, these manuals may not be as easy to follow as some would have you believe. However, there are ways to get through these dense, technical books and use them effectively.
Learning how to maintain your vehicle is the sensible thing. When you buy a washing machine, a food processor or any other mechanical thing you get a manual that you have to read through in order to understand how it works. The same thing applies to cars. However, car manuals are a little bit more complex and can be deeply frustrating.
There are two kinds of service manuals, one is from a car manufacturer which is known as a factory service manual and the other is a third-party consumer version known as a repair manual.
Factory service manuals are extremely comprehensive. They contain instructions and technical diagrams explaining every little thing about maintaining you particular car make and model. These manuals serve as references for car for anyone who needs to be well versed in the specifics of certain cars like dealership mechanics.
It’s ideal to have a manufacturer’s manual and a third-party manual created by people who dismantle and then reassemble cars and documenting each step so that consumers can better understand the process.
You can browse the internet for Factory Service Manual providers. Some sites sell commercial repair manuals whilst others such as All Car Manuals offer free factory service manuals for download.
Why is it better to have two types of manuals for the same car make and model?
Because one might be clearer at labelling or identifying different components whilst the other provides step by step instructions for dealing with specific repair or maintenance procedures.
How to use factory service manuals
Sometimes, manuals tend to lump certain steps as one which can be confusing, especially if they involve multiple parts.
Even if you have both types of manuals you need to be methodical and make your own supplementary notations and diagrams.
- You will need to breakdown the steps yourself. When disassembling components make sure you note the “ins” and “outs” for when you have to reassemble.
- You have to be ready to amend certain steps and you may find that one manual has explicit information that the other one doesn’t have.
- When it comes to doing your own car maintenance and repairs, it is important to pace yourself. In addition to the notes you take, you should take pictures before you take something apart. This will help you put things back together.
- There are a lot of hoses, plugs and vacuum lines that may need to be removed. Find something to mark each end of a connection with. You can use painter’s masking tape marked with a Sharpie.
- There are parts that have to be taken completely off. Make maps of where things should go and arrange the disassembled parts in a way that will make it easy for you to work out. Specify the order in which parts are supposed to fit each other.
- When reading an instructional book like a factory service manual, reading and doing in real-time can be hard. You might end up tripping over yourself.
To get clarity on what it is you have to do, read the manual first, put it down and then come back to it again. You will have clarity and a better context before you begin unscrewing things.
- Pace yourself to avoid making big mistakes or being frustrated. You also need to remember that service manuals don’t account for how old your car might be. It might be easier to unscrew or take something out of a new car than taking it when it has gone through heat and 5 or 35 years worth of dirt encrusted on it. Work slowly and methodically.
In addition to a commercial repair manual or free factory service manual, there are a number of online forums you can find where people share their own DIY car repair experiences, you can ask questions and hopefully get the right answers to solve your problems.