Auto Repair Manuals

Car repair questions are among the most common asked in public libraries, often accounting for more than 10% of the reference questions. Reference librarians being called upon to deal with these questions will find that an hour or two spent becoming familiar with an automobile repair manual will pay big benefits in helping our patrons. A Chilton's Auto Repair Manual is not as difficult to use as many other reference books that we face with less trepidation. So even if you don't do your own tune-ups, you can help that patron who wants to overhaul an engine.

(The following material is excerpted from the CHILTON'S AUTO REPAIR MANUAL, 1998-2003, Chilton Book Company.)

How to Use This Manual


Car Sections

are grouped by manufacturer and arranged in alphabetical order. The text is arranged in the following order: Tune-Up, Engine Electrical, Engine Mechanical, Engine Lubrication, Engine Cooling, Emission Controls, Fuel System, Manual Transmission, Clutch, Automatic Transmission, Transaxle, Transfer Case, Drive Axle, Rear Suspension, Front Suspension, Steering, Brakes, and Chassis Electrical. Specifications are always located at the front of each section.

Unit Repair Sections

contain troubleshooting and overhaul procedures for the major components and systems, and are intended to be used in conjunction with the Car Sections. Most Unit Repair Sections are arranged by brands, manufacturers, or types of components rather than models of cars, and all overhaul procedures begin with the component removed from the car. The steps involved in overhauling an engine, for example, are virtually the same for all engines, but the operation of removing the engine from the car varies greatly from model to model.

Locating Information

Table of Contents

lists the beginning of each Car and Unit Repair Section. The Car Sections are grouped by manufacturer. There is also an alphabetical listing of names of cars, so that you find the right section quickly, even if you are not sure of the manufacturer.

To find the page number for a particular Car Section, you need only look in the Table of Contents. Once you have found the proper section, you may wish to find where specific procedures are located in the section. Turn to the INDEX at the front of the section. At the upper left-hand side is a listing of the main topics within the section and the page number they will be found on. Following the main topics is an alphabetical listing of all the procedures within the section and their page numbers.

Frequently Asked Types of Questions

Specifications (specs)

Use the series of charts in the Car Section. These are arranged by years.

Overhauling or Rebuilding

Use Unit Repair Section for system or component wanted.

Removal or Installation

Use Car Section for make, model, and part wanted.

Wiring Diagrams

NOT in most car repair manuals. Use special wiring diagram books or refer question to your central library or reference center.

Emission Control and Air Conditioning and Heating

For greater detail, use one of the specialized manuals for these systems, if you have them.

Repair manuals are made for domestic and imported cars, trucks, motorcycles, and tractors. Your central library or reference center probably owns some of these. (Special hint: If you don't find information on a car with an American name, check an import manual.)

The language in car repair manuals is not simple, and some patrons may need help with it. There are lots of abbreviations. You'll know some of them and can look up the others in a dictionary of abbreviations. Caution: there are errors in any reference tool. For example, the 1982 Chilton's gives type of carburetor rather than size of engine in a chart on C580.

If you are using earlier Chilton's manuals, notice that the paging was broken into separate series for the car and unit repair sections, preceded by the letters "C" and "U" respectively. The Indexing was somewhat different also. For more information, read the "How to Use This Manual" inside the front cover.

Tips for Vehicle Repair Questions

It's very important to find out what kind of vehicle the patron has (car, motorcycle, truck, etc.), its make and model, and just what the patron wants to repair.

The majority of automotive manuals are for REFERENCE USE ONLY in the libraries that own them. If you refer a vehicle repair question, you will receive photocopies of the requested information rather than the entire repair manual.

The relevant sections for a particular model can be scattered widely throughout a repair manual, so you should specify just what information is needed so that a lot of unnecessary copying can be avoided.

Wiring Diagrams

Patrons often need "wiring diagrams" for the electrical components of vehicles. Not all general automotive repair manuals contain this information. Manuals published by Mitchell International (formerly known as NATIONAL SERVICE DATA) are the most comprehensive sources of wiring diagrams.

Refer to the Vehicle Repair Question Worksheet to help you ask pertinent questions about requests for automobile repair.

Complete the Automobile Repair Manual Practice Questions..

Back to Tier 1: Essential Print Resources.

Back to Table of Contents.

Back to MORE Manual Home Page.

This page was last updated on March 11, 2003.