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Repair Manuals

I recently had a go 'round with Haynes about some issues in my repair manual (missing info, incorrect info, etc. I’m not shocked by that).

In the midst of this I learned that Haynes bought Chilton’s - quite a while ago (back in 2001).

The first manual I ever bought was a Chilton’s made before that time, and I remember it being quite good. I currently own 2 Haynes and find them to be very weak.

I had decided that I would just go with Chilton’s from now on even if I had to order them online (Haynes are all anyone on my area stocks). But now I’m guessing that Chilton’s manuals these days are just exactly the same thing under a different cover - ?

I do know that the Chilton’s manual I bought back in the early 90s was much better than the Haynes out there today. It was bigger, more extensive, more informative, more photos, etc. Does anyone have any observations on how Chilton’s manuals may have changed over the last decade?

I’ll likely just start biting the bullet and buying the factory manuals.

The soft cover Chiltons manuals are suitable as bird cage liner material, nothing more. Incomplete or incorrect info, repeating the same old generic tripe in every manual no matter the make of the car, etc. Even the paper it’s printed on is garbage. The hard cover books are better but still a bit shallow.

I’ve got several old hard cover Chiltons from the 60s/70s and these manuals are vastly different. They have a very large amount of technical info, many clear detailed pics, etc. and even the paper is high quality instead of the current recycled newspapers or whatever it is they use.

The Haynes is better than the Chiltons but not by that much. More than once I’ve chased my tail based on info from a Haynes manual. The one that really torqued me was a few years back when I was trying to trace down an electrical problem (A/C compressor inop) in my daughter’s Mitsubish. Eventually I determined the manual was flat wrong and the kicker was that the info shown on my ALLDATA account matched the incorrect Haynes manual; printing blotches and all. Apparently ALLDATA is scanning the Haynes manuals for online use and when ALLDATA claimed their info was correct and "someone must have modified the car wiring, NOT) I dropped my ALLDATA account.

Only other good option I know of (besides factory) is Bentley, and only for a few makes/models.

I found the same thing with the Haynes and Chiltons manuals. You can’t trust the wiring diagrams at all. The diagrams are wrong in that the wire colors don’t match and they omit components in the circuits.

The repair sections are just general information that could apply to any year of the vehicle covered. And in some sections they recommend that the vehicle be taken to the dealer for the repair because it requires special tools. Well, isn’t a manual suppost to tell you what special tools are required and how to do the repair?

After I got misled so many times using these manuals I chucked them into the trash and got a subscription to ALLDATA. That was just slightly better than the manuals but still lacked important information. I then got a subscription to Mitchell on Demand. The information I get from there is exact and precise. All the information provided is from the auto manufacturers. So every diagram/illustration has “Courtesy of XXX Motor Company of North America.” How can you go wrong with that?


Are the Haynes manuals we are speaking of the ones that have what appears to be a “wire model” of the car on the cover? Haynes,Clymer,Chilton I pass on all and just keep hitting my used book store for FSM’s. Even with the used book stored route I feel something is up as they never have anything more current than 1998. Nothing but FSM’s for me.

A 4 book set for a 2002 (just for example) full size Chevy pickup is about 135.00 from “books4cars” and a bit more from Helm. Thing I don’t like about Helm is that $12.00 or so “processing” fee no matter how much you buy.

For years both Mitchell and Alldata were on disc at the shop and each had their strong points. When there was a conflict between the two Mitchell was more often correct. But then the factory shop manuals have errors and that is source for the after market manuals. The paper back manuals are better than nothing but just barely. Prior to Mitchell on Demand and Alldata there was an annual purchase of Motors and Mitchell manuals that grew to more than $2,000. Years ago as they sat collecting dust I gave the biggest part of my collection to the local community college instructor. The books took 32 feet of shelf space.

Sadly, Chilton has gone downhill since selling to Haynes. Now they are both equally useless.

What I like about Mitchell is techs can leave comments in repair sections providing information to other techs doing the same repair. These can be anything from hints/tricks in doing a repair, or even warnings about doing certain repairs.

When we had the poster about Hyundia with the messed up crankshaft bolt after the timing belt replacement, I looked the procedure up on Mitchell. Nowhere in the procedure was it mentioned that the crankshaft bolt shouldn’t be reused, and that a new bolt be installed. However, there were three techs who left comments in this repair section and all three warned not to reuse the crankshaft bolt, but instead replace it with a new one. So did these techs provide this warning because they ran into the same problem? One would have to think so.


Agreed that the Mitchell manuals are probably the best around along with the FSMs.
However, even the FSM are not infallible as I’ve found mistakes in them over the years.

I’ve even found a few flaws in the Helm publications which are provided to Ford dealers. After pointing out a flaw or two to Helm I got essentially the same song and dance that ALLDATA gave me; the car must have been modified.

I am glad to see this discussion reaching the light of day. Haynes is definitly a second class outfit, and I have wondered why I could not get a Chiltons specific to my truck. The manufacturers original manual is no longer published. I used to get Chiltons, they had great pics, and specific info. and detailed instructions. Haynes by comparison had blurry, low res pics, generic info. and left out half the proceedures a diy guy needs. Also unreliable wiring diagrams in Haynes, poor spec.s, and lousy quality control of materiels. I hate Haynes manuals.

Well, I’d say that about seals it all for me.

I had thought about the Mitchell and Alldata. I actually did do a one year Mitchell subscription for one of my vehicles, but the thing I don’t like about that is having to pay each year. Then there’s having the computer around the garage waiting to be destroyed in the mess of me working on stuff.

I do think I’m ready to just swear off on the Haynes/Chilton’s. Too bad about Chilton’s - if you could still get one like the first one I had, that one I’d buy.

Thanks all for the input.