Car repair manuals?

I am starting to require a bit more elbow grease to keep the old bird running. After ten years, we’re past swapping the occasional headlight, tire, and windshield wiper.

I own the Chilton’s guide for my car (1999 Firebird V6) but it seems to be substantially more about the assembly of things: how to remove and attach the starter motor, how to remove and attach the dashboard and body panels, etc. I’d like something that got more into detail on the nuts and bolts.

For instance, my gas gauge recently conked out (always showing full or empty, so that I base refueling decisions on my trip mileage meter). Chilton’s shows me how to remove the gas tank and that’s about it. I’d like something that shows me how to get at the floater sensor, how to check if it’s working, etc.

Are there any consumer car fixit guides (model specific, preferably) that get a little more in depth on fixing stuff rather than just getting at stuff?

Haynes Repair Manuals!

direct link to your model car

I used just this manual and successfully pulled the engine out of my car, took the cylinder heads off the block, and replaced my head gaskets. Every single step I followed the manual, and it has a lot of pictures. I also replaced one of my driveaxles, and I refer to it any time I think I may have a problem with some component. It’s that good. If Chilton’s doesn’t have details on the nuts and bolts, then Chilton’s fails. Haynes shows every single nut and bolt, literally, as well as giving torque and other specifications.

It’s a bit late and I don’t feel like running out to my car at the moment, but I could check what info it has on the gas gauge to see if they go over it. Honestly there isn’t a single part of the car that isn’t covered in the manual, that I’ve found.

edit: Also, not that I actually care, this is probably a Hardware/Technical thread.

Get a factory service manual. There’s really no replacement.

It’s a shame that Bentley doesn’t publish manuals for American cars. When I had my Volvo 240, I bought manuals from Chilton, Haynes, and Bentley. The Chilton and Haynes were never opened twice.

Thanks for the link, Pogo!

Also thanks for the idea Jakub, I didn’t even think of looking for factory manuals. There’s one on ebay now actually.

I 2nd the factory service manual. If you are serious about fixing your car, it will be the best investment that you can make. Note however, certain things may look harder in the factory service manual because they usually assume a journeyman’s level knowledge of car repair. but for most things, it will be much more detailed and will include blow apart diagrams of all the components in question.

Yeah, Tactu brings up a good point, but don’t let it scare you away. My own accomplishments around a car are relatively modest, but I’ve had friends who tore down their Honda VTEC engines (rather complicated beasts) and re-built them using a FSM and a digital camera, with only modest wrenching experience.

You take a risk with a factory repair manual. Haynes will have more pictures and hands on instructions accompanied by all the details you need. Haynes bases all of its information on factory repair manuals and includes most of it.

Like I said, it will assume a certain level of knowledge, but I don’t think you are taking a risk. For my Honda CRX I owned all 3 ( Haynes, Chiltons, and the FSM ) and I used the FSM more often than not. Yes the other 2 have real pictures and hands on instructions, but if you take the FSM to a shop and point to a part, they’ll find it, whereas in the Hiltons and Haynes they almost always compile several model years into a single vehicle. That means that you’ll have pictures of disc brakes floating around when you only have drums, and instructions for things specific to a model year you don’t have. And they also have errors based around mixups with these models. The FSM is for YOUR car and everything in it. The other 2 are good for you to get up to speed because they’ll have hints for you ( like taking rusty drums off your car, what to use to seperate a ball joint ) to do things that the FSM will just gloss over.

Open the hood. Inside should be a bolt. It’s probably a 5/16ths, so just take a 5/16th ratchet and twist it a few times. It should be good as new after like a dozen twists or so. This solution works for every car of every model. Also? Boats.

Search or ask on one of the F-body forums. Most likely it’s a common issue that a million people have had problems with.

Huh. Doesn’t look like they have a manual for a 2002 Mazda Miata. That seems strange…

That’s because the solution to fix every Miata is to drive it off a cliff.

But really though, having a team of writers and photographers breaking down and rebuilding every car made is a logistically heavy process. They’ve done a lot of cars, and it’s obvious that the choice they make is to be as thorough as possible with the cars that they can get to, and not compromise the technical quality of their information by cutting corners to do more cars.

Thanks for the summary of differences, because I couldn’t say with much certainty, as I’ve never owned the FSM to my car. Now it’s up to the OP to decide if he can get by on his own car knowledge!

And of course, definitely search the internet. I would never have thought to find much information on my separator plate which was causing an oil leak between the transaxel and the transmission, but somebody with a similar model of my car posted a whole picture walkthrough of how he took off his transmission to get to the plate.

Also, I don’t recommend the digital camera route to track where things are before you take things apart. It seems like a great idea at first, but ultimately you ARE going to miss something like a tube that gets hidden by other tubes and looks confusing on a camera. Buy mechanics paint (or brush-on white-out at least) and mark important connections. I prefer several rolls of different colored tape, but whatever can work.