Today's owner's manuals

Not really a question, mostly just a bit of a rant. Been 8 years since I bought a new car and my inner crotchety old fogey is coming out(I’m 37 for reference).
A 70 page booklet for my tire warranty guide, 30 page booklet for the vehicle warranty and a 20 page “quick reference guide” booklet And that’s before I get to the actual owner’s manual.

I’m about 140 pages into the thing and it just amazes me at how much (sometimes seemingly useless)information they put into the thing. They even have various speeds recommended for shift points for best fuel economy for the different engine/transmission options. It’s worrisome that they need to tell people how to properly fill up their gas tank, but even more so when you figure how many people don’t listen/care about it.
It also feels weird to wait for my car to tell me when to change my oil, but the manual also states not to go over a year without an oil change even if the light doesn’t come on.

The person at the dealership who usually goes through all the stuff with you before you drive the car home wasn’t there today, so I’ll be heading back down later on when we both can be available- I basically just paired my phone to the car to get some music going for the trip home. It was fine with me she wasn’t there because it was nearing 3pm and I was ready to get out of there. I didn’t want to be in the area when the rush hour started.

Last, but not least, for those of you curious as to what I got(without spending a couple years looking like I did before I got the CX-7), I bought a brand new Mustang GT today

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The manuals have to be written so that even the dumbest most illiterate moron should have at least a chance of understanding it. They also must contain all of the “CYA” verbiage that is required by the “legal team” to avoid any law suits that may or may not come from the end users own stupidity. Too many lawyers with too much time on their hands. And just this last local election one of our candidates was using the catch phrase “Virginia needs another lawyer”. Don’t we have enough already?

I hear you on the manual thing. And there’s been many a time that I was curious about how something worked in my car and the manual either provides no information or explains it like you would to a four-year-old. And if you think you’re going to go to the manufacturers’ website for further info, you’re living in a fantasy world.

One of the first things that’s said to people on this board is to “read the manual.” While I agree with the advice, I certainly understand the questioner thinking that the manual is a waste of time.

By your avatar I thought you were older than that.
Frankly, I don’t find the manual size to be annoying.

Well, there’s at least one person who is reading the manual… :wink:


It took you 8 years to get to page 141?? As others point out, car makers need to explain everything in detail as well as cover their buns. Avoiding liability is a major input in to these manuals!

When I rent a car I go through the manual for useful information. Half an hour and one beer later in my hotel room I usually have enough info to keep me out of trouble.

Years ago in Texas, a widow was awarded 3 million dollars when her husband, stone drunk, and driving over 85 mph on a 2 lane highway, crashed and killed himself in a Ford. The standard tires on that Ford model were only good for 85 mph, however this was NOT mentioned in the owner’s manual which the driver probably had never read. The cause of the crash was a blowout of one of those very tires, causing the car to run into the tree.

The court determined that the driver being drunk and speeding was less of an offense that the tires being undersized and/or under-designed, and the manufacturer not mentioning this in the owner’s manual…

Later I rented a Ford Explorer and found a very thick manual in the glove box dealing only with “How to Drive an SUV”. This was the result of numerous Explorer rollovers and crashed due to both poor tires and driver error due to the high center of gravity.

Cheaper to redo the manual than fix the tires.

A year ago I rented a small Japanese car in Phila. Only drove it perhaps 100 miles. When I tried to fill the tank, I could not figure out how to release the gas cap lock. NO manual present. Gave up and returned it as it. The guy at the car rental place told me how to unlock it, but now I forgot it, so if I rented it again, I’d have the same problem.

There is far too much CYA rhetoric and much too little if any easily found meaningful information in the vast majority of owners manuals. I challenge anyone to open a post 2000 automobile owners manual and find a fuse box diagram and identify the fuse that powers the power outlets in less than half an hour. Or better yet find the instructions for getting the shift lever out of PARK manually.


Half the manual though is for the nav system and related. But you’re lucky if you got a printed manual. Last time we got half the manual printed and the other half you have go to the internet for. I suppose that’s good because it would never fit in the glove box anyway. Interesting though that its not on CD for use in the car, but gotta have a computer link if you want to know something while driving.

I’ve had trouble finding the manuals on rentals and sometimes you need to know stuff right away like how to get the dang parking brake off. The last one I did find in the spare tire compartment though in a bag that said “do not remove”. I don’t know if that was to me or the the guy washing the cars. At any rate that’s where I’ll look in the future.

And, a TV star…


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When I was employed in the field of education, we referred to those people as “slow learners”.

I don’t agree with that

Today, I worked on a car which was new to me

The manual had a great deal of good information for me. Engine oil viscosity, quantity, lug nut torque, how to replace the cabin air filter, how to reset the maintenance light, etc.

I would have figure it out without the manual, but it would have taken longer.

But here’s the funny thing . . . the manual wasn’t in the car. I had to find it on the manufacturer’s website

Here’s my “rant” . . . and it speaks more about society, versus the actual car. The majority of the manual was devoted to the entertainment system. Because that’s apparently the only thing some people care about

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That, plus the in-car entertainment electronic gadgets tend to have a lot of complicated settings and key press sequences to accommodate all the functions they come with. My inexpensive portable mp3 player came with a 40 page book on how to operate its 8 buttons. And even the book doesn’t cover every possible option.

No, though it felt like it. I was reading the manual for the new car that I bought yesterday.
It tells me to let the car tell me when to change the oil and such, OR if the light/message doesn’t come on, charge it every 5k miles or 6 months. There is no real chart to tell you what to do every X months/miles, just suggestions as to the time/miles for certain items. It might be further in the back, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

It’s a picture of Hugh Laurie as House photoshopped over top of the protagonist’s face from the video game Half Life.

For reference as to what I just bought:


Very nice. There’s a lot of new-looking Mustangs in my area on the road. They seem to be very popular.

They’re the cheaper of the big 3 pony cars.
I managed to do a half way decent job negotiating out the door price price down a good deal, getting my monthly payments down where I wanted them as well. Sticker price is almost $38k, I had the X-plan price all ready to go, but didn’t like the payments- it’s a fun car I don’t really need, so I wasn’t in any rush to buy. Told them I didn’t have any room for my price and knew they didn’t have any room in their price as well and started to get up to leave. Never saw a person change their tune so quickly before. I talked them down to just over $35k out the door with me putting $1k down.

My 2011 Outback came with two manuals:

The actual Owner’s Manual, which is quite helpful, even though some of the information isn’t where I expected to find it.
A second–much thicker–manual for the integrated Sat Nav/Audio/Bluetooth/Back-up Camera system. This one was obviously translated (badly!) from a foreign language, and I found that it was easier to figure-out everything related to that system on my own, rather than trying to decode the often-bizarre wording.

Good Choice! :rofl:

Think for just a minute of some of the posts we’ve had here on the site that were answered with “Read your owners manual” Some of them have been, to put it mildly, stupid questions easily answered in a 30 second search in the Most Unread Book in the Universe.

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The people who ask extremely simplistic car-related questions about their own car that could be answered by simply opening their glove compartment, remind me of a person who stands directly in front of a library, and asks, “Does anyone know where I can find an encyclopedia?”

The long-term veterans of this forum may recall a woman from–I think–Maine, who stated that her Suzuki’s CEL had been lit-up for the past 16 years, and she wanted us to diagnose the problem–long distance. She also asked something that could have easily been answered by looking at her Owner’s Manual. When it was suggested that she take a look at the manual, her answer was something along the lines of…ONLY an engineer could understand an Owner’s Manual.

When you consider that car manufacturers purposely write their manuals on an 8th grade reading level, so as to allow almost everyone to read the manual, her statement certainly didn’t say much for her educational level.


There’s a certain percentage of the population that are just technically/mechanically/electronically incapable. Period.

I’ve had someone ask how to turn on the cruise control when the car didn’t have it.
I’ve had to explain that we didn’t break the steering wheel, it’s just tilted up now because the mechanic is 6’2".
I’ve charged someone $30 for washer fluid, it seems that the washers not working and the dash warning that said low washer fluid wasn’t enough of a clue as to what might be wrong.
And let’s not even start with the people who can’t be bothered to press a button on the dash to check the oil level.