“Dude, Where’s My Car (Repair)?”
Auto Repair Reference Center was recently removed from POWER Library, much to the disappointment of many library staff and patrons. There are tons of sites out there that will gladly sell you the manual you need, but there’s really no one great free resource for this kind of information. While the Digital Resources Committee looks into alternative access options, I decided to poke around the magical internet and see what, if any, temporary relief was available.
Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Ford owners have it best, as these manufacturers provide owners’ manuals for free as .PDF files on their respective websites.
Ford’s website, with its clean layout and clear organization, is easiest to search. It’s also got the widest range of manuals, covering cars from 1996-2016.
Chrysler’s free manuals extend back to 2004 only, but is the easiest to use of the three: pick your year and vehicle, then download the file; there’s also a free child safety manual available, with detailed instructions for installing car seats.
Chevrolet’s manual collection is the least extensive, with the oldest manuals available from 2008. However, certain makes and models come with not only the manual, but helpful repair videos as well. As a bonus, pictures of each vehicle appear above each download link, making this useful for people who are more visually oriented and/or don’t know what kind of car they have, but would recognize it on sight.
The next best bet, if you don’t own the cars named above, is, oddly enough, Pep Boys’ Do It Yourself Guides, which reproduces sections from the Haynes manuals (a trusted name in DIY auto, for those of you who walk, bike, or take the bus like me). These guides are not make or model specific, and are designed to provide “first aid” for any failures, funny noises, or other freakouts your car might be having. The writing style and level of detail assume you’re comfortable enough fiddling around under the hood, but are written clearly and simply so that even beginners will find them easy to follow. Many of these guides gently suggest visiting Pep Boys if you still can’t figure out what’s wrong, but that’s a small price to pay for credible information.
Though these aren’t long-term solutions, they at least give you something to offer your patrons rather than sending them away completely empty-handed. Have your users been asking about Auto Repair Reference Center? What kinds of car repair questions do you tend to get at your library? Can you recommend any other online resources I might have missed?
–Leigh Anne (CLP Main)