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Best colour car repair manual

I was thinking of getting a haynes repair manual, and I looked through one a friend had and all the photos were in black and white and it didn’t really describe things in a step by step manner or go over things like fluid and filter changes very thoroughly. Is there a better manual with colour photos that includes simple maintenance like fluid and filter changes, brake work and things like that in a detailed step by step manner? My car is a 2011 honda accord if it matters.

Actually the factory repair manuals are about the most descriptive you can get and go into much detail. Not many pictures though in any of them I have had. They are mainly line drawings. Usually they run about $200 but I paid about $100 for my Acura manual. I’m not a big fan of Chiltons because they just don’t go into much detail that I have seen. Maybe the on-line services have more pictures but youtube is a good source for pics and videos but not always reliable.

We usually have a Haynes repair manual for any vehicle that my wife or I
own. It’s at best just reference material but for what it is…it’s
sufficient. I like the wiring diagrams at the back of the book. Color? I
don’t need color for a repair manual.

Factory repair manuals are definitely better, but for the price of the set you can subscribe to an online database like “Mitchels” or “Alldata”. That’s even better.

For simple maintenance (“fluid and filter changes”) and low cost, go the Haynes + Youtube video route.

Some public libraries have a subscription to Alldata, and it’s free to use for anyone who has a library card. That’s definitely where you should look first.

The next place to look is here. $150 for the factory service manual. I have the one for my TL, and it’s been invaluable.

$150 sounds steep, but when it shows you how to do a job for $50 that would cost $400 at the dealership, it’s more than paid for itself.

My countywide library system has Chiltons you can access from your computer, but to get the Alldata you have to drive downtown and use the Central Library computer. You have to pay to park there and the computers are PCs which I have never used so I usually look for information online. One advantage of my age is that my children and grandchildren no longer ask me to fix their cars anymore.

"$150 sounds steep, but when it shows you how to do a job for $50 that would cost $400 at the dealership, it’s more than paid for itself."

I agree! These manuals don’t cost, they pay! I have been buying manuals from Helm for decades. I bought a 76 Luv manual 82 Aries, 86 Aries, and 84 & 86 Fiero,91 Spirit, 96 Caravan, and 01 Impala manuals when these cars were new or almost new. I have even purchased them at a drive-through window at Helm’s warehouse.

Over the years they’ve grown in size and cost as the cars have grown in complexity and cost. The Luv manual is about 3/4" thick (less than $75) and my Bonneville and newer model Impala manuals are a stack of 3 volumes each, thousands of pages weighing several pounds and cost almost $200/set.

None of my Helm Official Factory Service manuals have colour, but I haven’t needed it. I have never regretted a Helm purchase. I buy them when I get a different car and have them before I need them.

Factory manuals are great, but will they help the OP on oil/fluid changes?

@“common sense answer”

when these cars were new or almost new.

And that’s when to get it, too. I’m glad I already bought the manual for my '07 TL, because they’re no longer available and I’d be screwed if I needed one now.

Why would you need a service manual to do an oil change ?

Most wouldn’t, but they come in handy if you’re ever going to attempt an actual repair.

"Why would you need a service manual to do an oil change ?"

I’m thinking it’s when somebody has the will, but not the experience and wants to be able to DIY.

I think in that case it could be better for the individual to befriend somebody with the knowhow and experience to assist them through one.


People have to start somewhere . Wasn’t there a recent thread about someone draining their differential thinking they was draining engine oil ?

I remember when I bought the factory manual for my 86 Park Ave, it was about $150 but when it came it was two volumes, each about 5" thick in thin paper to boot. I was cheap enough that I didn’t order the binders with them that was a real mistake. Other ones are still 3-4 inches thick that are already bound, but body manuals and parts manuals are separate.

I guess I’ve never used them for oil changes so can’t really say they would have a step by step procedure but they would certainly show where everything is and the proper capacities. But get beyond an oil change and they can be very helpful with particular details that the after-market manuals don’t have-like how to get the dang headlight housing out to change bulbs.

If your doing an oil change on a newish Toyota for the first time, it would help to have a little information about that filter. I viewed several YouTube videos and they had some conflicting information. Interestingly the instructions that came with the Fram filter were very complete and explained a few things that looked kind of odd in the videos.

One odd thing was that you use the filter cap to put the filter on as well as take it off and the Fram instructions were the only place that gave the proper torque spec for the filter.

Chilton’s tends to have more color photos and general info covering general problems like how to repair minor fender dents and rust and the like. But I think the Haynes manuals are a little better for the other stuff, especially electrical.

The problem with both Haynes and Chiltons is they have to cover a range of models and years, and in order to do that without a massively thick book they are forced to take some shortcuts in the presentation. Those usually work out as long-cuts for a diy’er using those manuals. So I tend to first read what the Chiltons or Haynes says about a repair I’m attempting, but before doing anything I first read and rely on the procedure in the factory service manual. That’s what works best for me. If I don’t have a FSM I’ll read the procedure on the All-Data computer database, which is almost as good as the FSM.

Haynes leaves a lot to be desired. They tell you to take something out, but don’t offer any help with the removal. Often it isn’t all that hard, but sometimes it isn’t straightforward. Several of the repairs I’ve had to make weren’t addressed at all.

Often those condensed manuals tell you what to do, but not certain important details about how to do it. One problem I had like that, fixing a door problem on my Corolla. One of those condensed manuals told me to remove the handle used to roll the window up and down. But didn’t explain how, or what exactly is holding that handle on.

On my truck there’s a little round cover on that handle that hides a screw you need to undo. But no such thing on the Corolla It turns out what holds that handle on the Corolla door panel is a snap ring gadget, and the only way to remove it is to take a short strip of cloth, like from an old t-shirt, and thread it under the handle, then pull upward while pulling the cloth back and forth horizontally. That’s not something I’d normally think to do … lol . . fortunately I had the factory service manual which told me about the cloth trick.

*Anecdote And *Public Service Announcement (Not Spam).
Having Recently Purchased A Grand Prix, I Bit The Bullet On February 10th And Decided To Order My Grand Prix A Service Manual Before I Need One, Rather Than Later.

I went online to Helm Inc. to order the Factory Service Manual for $200 only to find that it was not available. So, I searched the web and found a used one on ebay for $250. No thanks.

Continuing my search I came across Best Brands Repair Manuals. They list my manual at $200 Sale $148.95 It was the identical item that Helm sells (it came from Helm). I could not tell if it was in stock or not so I called and the owner physically checked and said he had 1 left on the shelf (He checked Helm and said he would not be able to get more.). I ordered it to be shipped Priority mail (2-4 days).

The rural P.O. lady handed it to me yesterday, Feb. 13th. The manual is specific to only my Make, Model, and Model-Year (as are my other Help manual purchases. It’s in 2 books weighing 8 pounds, totaling 5 inches in thickness and thousands of pages. Now if any questions on servicing my Grand Prix arise I’ve got the info ready. All of my other Factory manuals have paid off during the length of time I’ve owned the covered vehicles.

*Public Service Announcement:
I am telling this story in case anybody wants to check for manuals they cannot obtain from Helm.
Also, they list manuals for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, marine, etcetera.
Check it out and tell what you think.