5 Reasons You Need a Real Car Repair Manual

You need a repair manual for your car if you want to work on it!

auto repair manuals
Don't skip an actual repair manual for your car repair or maintenance. courtesy amazon.com

If you made it this far, chances are you want to work on your own car. You might have even started to get your tool collection together. I have to admit, it's still exciting to behold a tray of brand new tools. But all too often, new DIY mechanics forget one of the most important tools of all -- an auto repair manual for their car!

I often get into discussions with both do it yourselfers and professional mechanics about whether or not somebody starting out in car repair needs an old school paper repair manual. A physical book, made out of paper? That's way too old school for a lot of people to wrap their heads around these days. In almost all cases, I'm a huge proponent of going the digital route. After all, with your printed goods in digital format, you can access them anywhere, save photos, and utilize the very useful search function when you are trying to narrow down your repair options or looking for a specific symptom. These are all great reasons to go digital in car repair, but it's not enough! I always suggest the people order an old fashioned book to use when they're repairing or performing maintenance on their car. Here are the reasons you absolutely need a paper repair manual in your tool arsenal:

  1. You can't destroy a paper manual by cracking, crushing, spilling, scratching, or any other clumsy shop move.
  2. Greasy fingers don't agree with keyboards or touch screens.
  3. The battery will never go dead in your paper repair manual, no matter how long you leave it open.
  4. Nobody will care how long you occupy your repair manual, regardless of their desire to check email, play games, look up recipes or binge on Youtube fail videos.
  5. A real repair manual has been written by seasoned technicians with access to gobs of technical information. That guy posting on the Honda forum might be a little less seasoned, or worse. 


Not only is your manual full of how-to articles, it's packed with important technical information that will help you repair your car correctly and efficiently. As you work on your car, you'll be surprised at how often you refer to your repair manual. There are times that you will go straight to the page on, for instance, torque specs, to find out for sure how tight a certain nut or bolt needs to be. If you didn't have the manual, you might find yourself skipping the torque wrench and just giving it your "best guess tightness." We've all done this, but flipping right to the page that tells you how tight your bearing nuts need to be means you'll be doing the repair right. Having it all in one place is a real benefit. I often use those little office-supply sticky bookmarks to mark sections of the manual that I think I'll need to go back and forth between. It cuts down on the flipping through pages and will help you to not miss that beloved search function you keep thinking about. 

Bottom line: If you don't have a repair manual you should really buy one today. If you decide to go the online repair guide route completely, be sure you are using a reliable source. Forums are full of people who speak (or type) with authority but really don't know what they're talking about. It's fun to sound like an expert online when there is nobody there to disprove you. Unfortunately you may find that the advice you were following from an online forum is actually leading you to a botched repair or wasted money, or both.