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Repair manuals

Planning on replacing timing belt, water pump, idler pulley etc. on 2004 Sienna. which manual seems to be better/more thorough/ easier to follow, Chilton’s or Haynes? Is the factory manual significantly better? Thanks.

Factory manuals are SIGNIFICANTLY better, especially for a job like this, but they are also significantly more expensive.

Perhaps you can find a used one at

I did a timing belt job on my Subaru with a Haynes manual, and it had all the information I needed.

You Can Get A Haynes Or Chilton Manual, But I’d Also Recommend A Factory Service Manual.

I spend up to $150 plus S&H on factory manuals for every car I buy, but I do most maintenance and repairs on our cars. I’ve never regretted my purchases. Good manuals don’t cost, they pay.

Helm Inc. has one of two volumes for a 2004 Sienna in stock. You’d probably have to call to see when volume one will be in. They run $60 each plus S&H.

Take a look. They’ll notify you when the book becomes available if you wish.


The factory manuals are the best source. For the price and convenience alldatadiy online is usually thorough and adequate. But regarding Subarus, McParadise, an early timing belt version used 2 t-belts and the only accurate manual was Mitchell. Motors, and Chilton and Haynes skipped a step that would likely have bent a couple of valves but certainly not let the engine start. Luckily I had a habit of confirming that the ignition was in time and the rotor was at least 90* out with the cams set as instructed.

I recommend this on-line DIY manual.

I use to subscribe to ALLDATA, but it got so bad that I now call it NODATA.


Some Librarys subscribe to it Mitchell’s on line. If your lucky your local one may. If not ask them to subscribe.

I have purchased factory manuall and they are great if you keep the car for any length of time. I usually donate them to the library when I sell the car.

Haynes is the lesser of the 2 evils you mentioned. Chiltons soft cover books flat suck. The hard covers are more tolerable.

If the timing belt issue is your only area of concern about repair information you might check the timing belt kit you purchase. Some of those kits come with detailed instructions in the kit.

Count me in a non-fan of ALLDATA also. I started getting led astray on a number of occasions with incorrect information, especially electrical schematics. When I pointed out the errors to ALLDATA I got a hokum response that their info is right and the cars I’m working on “must have been modified”. Not for a second was this true and after spending a sizeable number of hours chasing electrical wiring colors and connectors that did not exist I dropped them cold after the last “been modified” response.

It may be hard to believe but I’ve found a few errors in the Helm publications and pointed the errors out to Helm along with the page number, etc. and got the same response that ALLDATA provided; our books are right, the car is goofy.

I personally use Haynes, mostly. The specs (torque settings, clearances, etc) are listed in the beginning of each chapter, and there are enough pictures to assist with most repairs. They claim a “complete rebuild” for every book, and all but the most basic repairs have decent step-by-steps.

Except for covering lots of different models with the same book (but with different chapters for various engines/transmission), I find them easier to follow than their Chilton counterpart.

I know they’re not the professional mechanic’s top choice, but I’m not a professional mechanic. I don’t have the tools required to machine blocks, machine heads and sleeve cylinders. I can measure, and if further work needs to be done, it has to go somewhere else.


Tester, that link looks great, thanks for sharing.

It may seem that factory service manuals are expensive but if you compare the cost of having a shop do the same repair you will see how even the most expensive factory manuals will pay for themselves in short order. Sometimes with the first repair. Besides money, a good manual also can save you a lot on labor time.

Where the factory manuals really shine I think is in the service on the wiring. They show where to find things like splices and connections that other manuals don’t even mention along with other important details. If there is a need to work on a electrical problem and a seperate factory wiring manual is available it would be a good thing to get at least the factory manual for that. Ebay is a good source for new and used manuals, both softcover and on CD.

I can understand OK4450’s frustration with errors in manuals. While working on a audio problem in my new minivan when the dealer failed to find it after working on it several times I noticed that some wiring in the door jam wasn’t even shown in the factory service manual. The trouble turned out to be a simple connector in the door jam wasn’t pushed in all the way to make the connection. After I found that I wrote to Chrysler about the manual error. Unlike the other publishers making excuses, they made an addendum to the factory manual.

My experience with the Toyota shop manuals, which I bought in 2001, they really don’t do much step by step at all. You will still need Haynes. The shop manuals are good for troubleshooting, especially codes, so I like to have both sets. But if I could only get one, I’d get the Haynes I consider the Toyota manuals best for professional mechanics who don’t need a shop manual for most work.