Best service manual for semi-competent DIY?

I have a 99 Taurus and a 99 Merc. Mountaineer that I would prefer to do repairs on myself if I can in order to save $.

In your opinion what is the best guide, either printed or online, to give detailed information on how to conduct repairs to someone who is not an auto-mechanic by training, but has some mechanical aptitude?

For instance, I need to replace the blower motor for the Heater/AC on the taurus and need to know what steps to go thru to get it out. I need something that gives me enought detail ahead of time of all of the steps involved in order to judge if I have enough time, or if I should have someone else do the work.

Any thoughts on what is best for Ford products? I have several sites online that advertise anywhere from $10 on up for diagrams and explanations.

One of the problems I’ve had in the past is when guides say something like “remove door trim” or “remove instrument panel”. The auto mfrs work hard to diguise any screws and other connections and invariably I spend hours trying to figure out how to get something apart. If there were something that said “trim is held by 5 scrws located in these places, remove then pull gently to loosen remain four push tabs” that would be invaluable and save a huge amount of time for me.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

You can’t go wrong with the OEM service manuals. Of course, they cost more than the generic ones but they have ALL of the information including diagnostic trees. The time and frustration savings alone make them worth the extra money IMO. Helm Inc sells them online.

Thanks for the quick answer! I just checked Helm’s website and they offer a 72 hr online access to service information for $9.95. Given that I plan on having the Taurus for 1-2 more years $10 a repair for short term access will hopefully come out ahead of the $130 for the printed version of the service manual…

For serious work I would buy factory manuals. For simple DIY work, I always buy Haynes.

I always purchase the Factory Manuals whenever I buy a car, outboard motor, anything with a B&S or Tecumseh motor like lawn tractors and snow blowers (yech),etc. Auto owners manuals tell where to order.
They don’t “cost.” They “pay.”

Sometimes I go to the public library where they often have Motor, Chilton, and Haynes manuals. It gives me a second opinion. I’m always looking for shortcuts.

Rarely when I can’t work around not having a “special tool”, I order from SPX Corporation, online.

Check your Big Discount Auto parts stores like Advance. They sometimes have sets of tools to rent or loan for certain repairs, like doing brakes.

You can also try looking on eBay for the factory service manuals. A couple of years ago I was able to purchase the complete printed set for a 1997 F-150 for a lot les than the $150 Helms wanted. I don’t remember what I paid, but I think it was less than half. Although if you need them tomorrow, then the 3-day subscription might be the way to go.

I always get the factory manual. Details like heater motor just aren’t in the others in sufficient detail unless you get All Data. Do check EBay though. I got an Acura manual for $25.

I always get a hard copy (or computer copy) of the OEM service manual. Then I can read the service information at my leisure and educate myself about the car. ( Maybe I should get a life!!)