Connecting mechanics to public libraries... feedback needed!

I’m interested in hearing from full-time auto mechanics on this one. Next month I’ll be volunteering at my public library, one of the things I’d like to do is to help spread awareness of the library’s resources to the local working community. I noticed that April is Car Care Month and my library has a mobile-friendly electronic resource (ChiltonLibrary) available remotely that includes service and repair information on thousands of vehicles, safety bulletins, recall information, videos and photos and ASE sample tests, etc. Would something like this be beneficial to you? Access is completely free and provided by the library. If yes, would it make sense for me to create a leave behind piece for you and colleagues as a reminder that this resource exists? Thanks in advance for any help or feedback you can provide - I’m finding out just how much my library has to offer the community and I want to assist :slight_smile:

Is this accessible to anyone? or just your community? Free login via PC? What is the URL?

access to anyone in the community - I’m in MI. It’s actually ChiltonLibrary online

Los Angeles public library already offers Chilton for free to its members.

It’s okay, but not great

Definitely not as good as access to the manufacturer’s websites, and a step below alldata

It’s also a roll of the dice

For some vehicles, chilton has very comprehensive information, almost as good as the factory, for others all they have is very generic info

I happen to be a professional mechanic

And chilton wouldn’t be my first choice

But I would use it if nothing else was available, for whatever reason

An observation . . . The Los Angeles public library was NOT very big on promoting this service. I’m on their website several times a month, and the only reason I found out is because of a pop-up. Had that not appeared, I would have never known. For all I know, the service has been available for years

I consider it to be more of a diy thing. Not reliable enough for professional level use. Too many mistakes, omissions, spotty coverage, etc.

1 Like

I’m a lifelong professional mechanic and I can say a professional in a shop would have no need for that service. We already have access to 3 aftermarket service info systems at all workstations throughout the shop and have subscriptions to factory level service manuals and software from the automaker as needed. These resources are generally superior to Chilton.

That’s not to say that Chilton isn’t useful. A few months ago I had to repair a botched rear axle job from another shop. The car was a 72 Dodge. While Alldata and Mitchell did not readily have the info I needed, I did dig up an old Chilton manual from my garage at home that had the specs I needed. But in general services like Alldata, Mitchell ProDemand, and factory info are what repair shops rely on.

The library system where I live has had Chilton library for quite a while. When I first got a computer, 2007 I think, I was logging into the Ohio public library (OPLIN) with a library card # 123456789 to use their Chiltons. It is a good resource to DIY but would not be of much interest to pros. Not nearly as good as the old paper Motors Repair Manuals. I would rank it below Haynes Manuals.

I agree with oldtimer

Motor is better than Chilton, considerably better in many instances

Another vote for oldtimer_11.

Chiltons is my last source for compete or accurate information as they tend to repeat generic info and have a number of errors in their technical information.

I just figure if the info is not completely accurate then it’s not trustworthy enough to rely on.

I’ll say

The other day, I found a particularly bad case . . .

The cylinder layout for a particular engine was wrong . . . DEAD WRONG

Someone less familiar than me, with that particular engine, might have no reason to doubt it, and would proceed with their diagnosis, based on the incorrect layout

If you were to rely on that faulty information, you’d easily arrive at a wrong diagnosis, even if your skills were otherwise decent

Or their info on the Buick 3.8 in which Chiltons claims that 6 PSI of oil pressure at 1800 RPMs is normal.

Wow. that’s a flashback for me. I had forgotten all about this one.

20 years ago a friend and former co-worker called me for help. He said “I’ll pay you $100 if you come get my truck started.” He had an Isuzu Trooper or Rodeo that had thrown a bearing. He purchased a complete rebuilt longblock and installed it at home, but couldn’t get the thing started. Despite numerous checks and double checks of timing, distributor installation, and firing order, all it would do is cough and sputter and backfire. I walked in and saw a Chilton manual with the firing order. I looked at the engine, saw it was a GM V6 and I knew the firing order like the back of my hand. His jaw dropped as I simply reached back, corrected the firing order, and started the engine. Less than 5 minutes.

I refused his money but he persisted to the point that he wadded up that $100 bill and shoved it down my pants. First and last time that ever happened.


The firing order is cast right on the surface of the intake manifold on my truck. I can see now why they did that, to avoid any ambiguity during repairs and diagnosis. More manufacturers should do that.

Thanks everyone for all the feedback! One more question to the group, would the ASE practice exams be of use? It’s my understanding that anyone who’s successfully passed the exam would qualify for a higher pay rate.

What you heard is only partially true

SOME employers pay modestly more per credential. Others couldn’t care less

Where I’m at now, they don’t want to hear about ase

you’ll be pleased to hear this . . .

Yesterday, one of my colleagues needed a wiring diagram for a Honda. We first went to alldata, but there was a problem with either the website or our employer’s firewall . . . anyways, after that failed, I logged onto Chilton using my los angeles public library account, and was able to print out that diagram for him

As I said, Chilton isn’t my first choice, but it’s better than nothing, especially if your first choice isn’t availabe