Hooniverse Asks- Factory Repair Manual, Haynes Manual, or Let The Dealer fix it?

My daily driver is an ’05, and is well out of warranty so if anything goes wrong with it (knock on wood) it’ll be up to me to screw it up fix it. That means I need the factory service manual, so I’m hitting up this new fangled thing called the Internet to see if I can find me one.
Sure there’s lots I can do without the manual – brakes I can do in my sleep, oil changes, FI cleaning, the stuff that hell, my wife could do. But I’m coming up on 80K and will need to change the plugs close to 100. That means that I’ll have to yank the intake plenum, and there’s a whole mess of vacuum hoses on there that exceed my brain’s ability to keep track of. I take pictures of everything I do so I can refer to them when it gets dicy, but having the manual allows you to plan your attack before hand.
How about you? Do you go the full monte and spring for the factory manual? Or, is the Haynes manual (reassembly is reverse of disassembly) all you need? OR, do you wimp out and leave  all the heavy lifting to the service department at your local sell and fix?
Image source: [ferraribooks.com]

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  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    It's the FSM for me. I spent a bundle on all the manuals for my '95 F-150 – Powertrain/Drivetrain manual, Body/Chassis manual, Powertrain Control/Emissions Diagnosis (which consists of two huge looseleaf binders, one for OBD-I, which mine is, and one for OBD-II), and the Electrical Vacuum Troubleshooting Manual (EVTM). About $350 all told. I also have a breakout box I bought on eBay a few years ago.
    About the only things I won't mess with are automatic transmissions (except for maintenance and seals), differentials, and A/C.

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      Years ago, I saw a sign on an engineer's desk that read "You don't want to know how sausages are made, or how automatic transmissions work"

  2. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    I'm cheap. I found out that, in Michigan at least, you can view automotive repair manuals through the Michigan Electronic Library on your computer. You have to enter your drivers license number, so that you can prove that you are a resident of the state, but after that, you've got full electronic access to repair manuals online.
    Did Michigan do something right for once, or is it like this in every state?

  3. tonyola Avatar

    I had manuals for my Duster and '65 Mustang. When I bought my CRX in 1984, I went to the trouble of ordering an official Honda shop manual. All it showed me were things I didn't have the tools or expertise to do.

    1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      I have the green books for my Volvo, it's great for the sometimes silly translations from Swedish into the Queen's English, it sucks because it assumes I have the car on a lift, can just replace things one at a time to diagnose any problem, and have tool SVO#### handy. It's good though that I have pictures of SVO#### in there most of the time though, since I've made a ZMS0001 already. What is it that they say about the sincerest form of flattery?

  4. LTDScott Avatar

    With the abundance of info on the internet, I've found that having a manual isn't as necessary anymore. I have a great Bentley manual for my E30 LeMons car, but several times I've found clearer or better info by just searching on E30 message boards.

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      I typically use the message boards for my vehicles too.

    2. muthalovin Avatar

      Agreed. I usually check the internets first, before delving into the Chiltons, and then if shit really gets real, then I will let someone else have the headache, and get paid accordingly.

  5. west_coaster Avatar

    I've found that it's ideal to have both the factory manual, and a Haynes where available.
    (Sure, there's stuff on the Internet now, but I want an actual book out in the garage, to get stained from repair jobs like battle wounds.)
    The Haynes manuals are nicely done with great photography and simple text. For quick jobs, they're usually very good. But it's also nice to have the factory manual for more detailed and complex things, especially accessories that might need attention. One bonus these days is that you can often find them on CD, then print out the pages you need for an individual job.

    1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      I say all of them is best too. I have to shout out the Bentley books as well. If they have them for your car, they are great. I swear that they WERE the FSM for late '70s early '80s VWs! Anyway the problem with FSM is that it assumes you have access to all the special tools, you don't. So Haynes is great because it often shows you haw to do things with out that tool. Or it might have insight about how to do something, like take the gearbox out by detaching from the bell housing. Then take the bell housing off. It's lighter that way. But before reassembly put the bell housing back on the gearbox (I know instructions that are more than simply "reassembly is reverse of disassembly" it happens) on a bench since those hex bolts are so long, skinny, and hard to fit.
      But here lies the biggest flaw in the Haynes books. They took apart one car. What if your gearbox happens to have a freakishly long output shaft? Oh, you won't be able to get it back in with the bell housing on without a lift even if you loosen motor mounts and tilt the engine with a floor jack to the point of almost damaging radiator hoses. But then you want to slap your face, cause the Chiltons book (though little more than an outline and charts with numbers) told you tersely to undo the 8 or whatever bell housing bolts without any explanation at all of why.
      So yes, it's best to have whatever and as much as you can. The Haynes books are great though. It's funny though (not just because of the use of the Queen's English) but many of the pictures come right out of the FSM too!

  6. B72 Avatar

    I used to do almost all my own wrenching, using Haynes manuals and the like. Then there were several occasions where I was up really late trying to fix something I thought would be quick, except for the stuck bolt, or need for a specialty tool. Wondering how one is going to get to work the next day is no fun, so I began taking the car to a shop for jobs that might get sticky or where I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it (like exhaust. Doing exhaust without a lift sucks). Then I found a really good mechanic. Now he does just about everything, unless I really want to do it myself.

  7. Maxichamp Avatar

    Here is a Citroen ID19 manual for the Citroen I don't have. The book's layout is as weird as the car. I picked it up at Powell's in Portland.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      That design is genius, having the diagrams in the top half, and the instructions in the lower half. I always hate it when I have to flip pages between the diagram and the steps. I do also have the CD version for my truck, and sometimes I use that. I'm also a member of flatratetech.com, which has great message boards. Lots of great Ford techs there.

  8. lilwillie Avatar

    MOD or Factory websites. You can, with some makes, buy time slots on their factory repair sites that will give you all you need to fix the car. Or have a Kia or Hyundai and see all repair info for free.
    Also, for GM fans, input your VIN and see if your module/s programming is up to par

  9. omg_grip Avatar

    I too just had to pull an intake plenum that looked like a nightmare, to replace some leaky seals and a valvecover gasket. http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/3641/mazda021.jp
    I have a FSM, but didnt even use it. I would say I am not too mechanically inclined but I am learning more on my own. I can do brakes and shocks/springs, but i know next to nothing about engine related stuff.
    I had more or less no idea what I was doing and just started taking things apart and kept track of where it went. I did break 2 vacuum lines under the plenum at the firewall because they are 179k miles old, and original, i was warned on a forum that they were going to break and to have new vacuum line ready. Everything went without a hitch and I was able to put it all back together. It was only half as complicated/scary as it looked.
    Just dive in and do it! You'll feel like a winner when you're done.
    I guess I should point out……..I have 4 cars in the driveway. I did NOT need to have this fixed to drive to work the following day.

  10. Maymar Avatar

    The daily driver's still under warranty (and semi-leased), so just about everything gets done by the dealer. Other than that, I default to starting with the Haynes manual until I start just banging wrenches on whatever won't come loose, and cave in to take it to the dealer or an independent shop.

  11. OA5599 Avatar

    It depends on the car. For the older, simpler stuff, I have a big Chilton's hardcover compilation book that covers multiple makes and models within a time range. I got it at a used bookstore for $5. It's helpful for things like schematics and torque settings, but my older cars that could use it are pretty simple to fix without it anyway.
    The newer part of the fleet is mix and match–some Chiltons, some factory, some not acquired yet.
    I have a 1998 General Motors-all makes and models factory CD set. Sometime in the 1997/98 timeframe, someone posted a message on a mailing list I frequented. I don't remember the details, but GM had some promotion for dealer service departments and if you called a certain phone number and gave them the information, they would mail you a set-free.

  12. P161911 Avatar

    I used to try to get the Haynes Manual, the FSM, and any other manual that I could find. Lately I've found I can probably get by with the Haynes Manual and the internet or maybe some of those bootleg CD manuals off ebay for $9.99. Lately when I have gotten the FSM I get them off ebay. The last one that I bought was for the 1984 Chevy K-10 truck I used to have. The Chevrolet FSM were going for about $50, I picked up a GMC manual for $10. It is really hard to justify the $150+ for a FSM these days.
    I have been misled at least once by the internet for car maintenance. You don't HAVE to remove the whole grill on a Trailblazer to replace the headlight bulb.

  13. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Hayes manual for my wrenching, the internet for backup but this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes they are just as clueless as I am. I haven't sprung for the FSM, but have been shopping the Bay of E for one.
    Maybe someday.

  14. mdharrell Avatar

    A similar question came up on the 24 Hours of LeMons forum about a year ago. Pat Mulry of Toxic Asset Racing Program gave the definitive answer:
    "Agree with Murilee [factory shop manuals only], but if that's not available, in this order: Bentley, then Haynes, then conventional wisdom, then what the homeless guy under the bridge recommends, then coin flip, then Chilton, then reading entrails, then the AllData website."

  15. PowerTryp Avatar

    Me I like to dive in blind for the most part, as long as there arn't torque specs or precise timing marks to adhere to there's no reason in my mind that I can't pull apart and reassemble by just getting to it.
    That said the factory service manual will always contain far more information than a Haynes or Chilton and are generally worth the extra cost. Although I know those VW guys swear by their Bentley manuals.

  16. Froggmann_ Avatar

    FSM is preferred but a Haynes can suffice if the FSM is too expensive or unavailable. The way I see it it's best to have an idea of how the factory wants you to disassemble and re-assemble today's over-engineered vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to tightening procedures for FWD wheel bearings and torque settings on aluminum engines.

  17. highmileage_v1 Avatar

    I used to use the manuals and just dive into the job. What I do these days is research the problem on the Intertubes and figure out how complicated and how much time it will take, to do the job. If it is going to take more than a day or two I'll usually cave and give the work to my local fixit guy. I just don't have the time to take on a long job where I have to educate myself on the problem and hunt for special tools. One benefit of the internet research method is that you occasionally stumble on hidden warranties or other deals.

  18. CaptainZeroCool Avatar

    I have never, EVER gotten the dealer to fix an issue without it coming back with another issue that they caused. That goes for a lot of independent shops.
    I have Haynes, Chilton, and the factory manual when I can find them. Plus internet.

  19. muthalovin Avatar

    The internet is an awesome resource for finding fixes, mostly because you are almost guaranteed to not be the first one with the problem you are dealing with, and that the first set of folks with the problem are kind enough to post how they solved it.
    That is good for wrenching my F150, but working on the Ducati is much more difficult, because people who have had problems with their Ducs just take it to get the professionals to do it. If I could afford it, I would too, but I may be one of those first people I mentioned.

  20. Black Steelies Avatar

    I have either a Haynes or Chilton's for the 87 Hearse which is on a GM B-platform. I bought a factory manual for the Ascot motorcycle and should probably start reading up on a potential brake rebuild.

  21. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Cross post to Atomic Toasters?
    <img src="http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/io9/2009/11/teefury-r2manual2_01.jpg"&gt;
    I actually have this on a t-shirt purchased from TeeFury.com many moons ago.

    1. dwegmull Avatar

      From Haynes' website:
      <img src="http://www.haynes.co.uk/Press/HaynesJackets/RGBhr_H4818.jpg&quot; width="500">

  22. oldcarjunkie Avatar

    I've actually descended to new levels of cheapness – I do all my own work but don't even buy the manuals anymore. Most jobs I can figure it out fine but sometimes for the older, obscure cars you can get the manuals on the internet.

  23. Bret Avatar

    I have a set of factory manuals for my Saab, but still take it to the troll-wizards at ScanWest for anything not simple. My Miata is not only falling-down easy to work on but is documented so thoroughly on the web that I can amuse myself for hours reading arguments on which technique is superior for a given job.
    Our LeMons Peugeot (Pujo!) requires us to keep on staff a witch doctor for when the service manual fails to provide information relevant to our red-headed step-child North American market car. After the witch doctor fails at finding anything on the internet, we have a few angry Peugeot die-hards who reluctantly share their knowledge only after berating us for daring to waste and destroy a classic car by subjecting it to racing.
    Peugeot enthusiasts in North America are angry and weird. However, they are also usually hoarders which, while being a bit frightening, can be helpful at times.

  24. EscortsForever Avatar

    I have a haynes manual for the escorts, my father has one for the 97 exploder, but i have yet to get one for the Town cow. I also have my father, who is a John Deere mechanic and his brother, who is a Ford dealership mechanic.

  25. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I have factory manuals for my Frontier, Cutlass and Metros as well as a set of 1973 AMC Manuals that I sometimes refer to for my 1979 AMC Spirit. I find them on E-Bay and don't think I have spent over $40 with shipping for any of them. I also own Haynes and Chilton manuals for a variety of vehicles (My living room book case is full of technical manuals) but rarely refer to them. They simply are not anywhere near as useful as the factory sets.

  26. TurboBrick Avatar

    I'm selling my 2004 Mitsu and going back in time to consolidate my fleet into nothing but RWD Volvos. I have my factory green books, Bentley, Haynes, Swedish language version of parts/repair catalogue (now that's one hemligen pain in the butt to use, jå!) and ability to connect with oodles of similarly minded nutjobs around the world.

  27. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    FSM for, like, every Nissan ever: http://www.nicoclub.com/FSM/
    My favorite directory: http://www.nicoclub.com/FSM/maxima/1997/
    I'm considering a Chilton/Haynes, though. The FSM was written when the car was new; the aftermarket manuals probably have all the tips and tricks that people figured out after everything started to break.

  28. earlofhalflight Avatar

    I've a selection of factory and after-market manuals for my Rootes Group cars. The factory ones get the most use.
    My Mk V Golf GTI is a bit beyond my abilities though so generally I let someone else fix it.

  29. RichardKopf Avatar

    Oh my god, I wish I had an Espada.
    Oh yes, the question: I have the Bentley Bible for my Volvo 240. Comes in handy.

  30. Mechanically Inept Avatar
    Mechanically Inept

    I have a PDF copy of the Porsche 944 factory service manuals on my laptop, probably over 1000 pages in total, all scanned, not native PDF. It wasn't particularly helpful with replacing the steering rack, but aided in replacing rear brake lines. The fun part is trying to find the little bits about the 924S, which is what I need.

  31. Sidecar 57 Avatar
    Sidecar 57

    Diagnostic dice!