Auto Repair Manuals (Haynes, Chilton, etc) - which are better?

jmolinskyjmolinsky Member Posts: 18
I have a 1998 Nissan Altima SE that I would like
to learn more about (and perhaps work on - once I'm
out of warranty protection in case I mess anything
up!). I'm looking to see if anyone has any
opinion on whose manuals are better - Chilton or
Haynes. Or, if there's another publisher I'm
forgetting, tell me about them. Thanks for the


  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    Go with the factory manual. I don't really trust Haynes, since their pictures are sometimes either reverse-negative or upside down, or just plain wrong. They often seem incomplete or vague (others may have a different opinion), but seem to provide a decent overview of what's going on.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I would emphatically agree. Factory manuals are the only ones that can be comprehensive enough to really help you. The others, while making a good attempt at covering a wide range of vehicles, are forced to compromise on detail, and as such could get you into more trouble than you'd bargained for. Modern cars are hard enough to work on with a factory manual--anything less just doesn't work for me. I suppose for some quick tips on certain basic repairs, or as a supplement to an already good working knowledge of your car, and for some good statistics, the outside manuals would be okay.
  • bchaubchau Member Posts: 8
    Third that. I spent usd$30+ on third parties manuals before giving up and went with the factory manual. Third parties are incomplete, and try to cover many years.

    Ask what all the service manuals are available for your car. If you are only interested in the electricals, they probably publish one just for that, and saves you some $$$.
  • clintonjohnclintonjohn Member Posts: 99
    IMHO, if you're going to do very basic stuff like fluids, plugs, filters, etc. then I think the Haynes or Chiltons are ok. Factory manuals are pricey compared to the Haynes and Chilton. Personally, I detest the Haynes manual. I get the strong impression that it's a British book because a lot of the terminology they use, along with the vehicles they use don't 'look' american. I suppose I would be inclined to get the factory manual, but the Haynes has been adequate for my needs in that it points me in the right direction at least. I mainly went with these books because my library had them. Isn't the other book series Clymer, or is that part of Haynes?
  • guitarzanguitarzan Member Posts: 873
    I used one of the manuals at the library to do the brakes on my last car. There was absolutely nothing in the book on how to remove the caliper bolts and disks. It said to use a socket for the bolts. Guess what? I learned why not to. A socket will twist in half before the caliper bolt comes off. Knowing these things is pretty integral to the repair, wouldn't you say?

    Guys, are factory manuals pretty complete on tools needed for each job?
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    Not really. Some yes, most no. What factory generally have is a listing of special tools, that is, tools made especially by the factory for use in certain situations, such as installing seals, keeping tension on timing chains, removing particular bolts or nuts, etc.

    One of my biggest pet peeves about manuals, and you'll find this in most manuals, manufacturer or non-, is the phrase "installation is the reverse of the removal." This phrase usually comes after a long, multi-step description of how to remove something like a timing chain or cylinder head!
  • bchaubchau Member Posts: 8
    Yep, the library, best deal in town. Check those out first and if that's not enough, then you can go to the dealer.

    I just know that if you do any kind of electrical troubleshooting, installing an alarm, GET THE FACTORY WIRING DIAGRAMS. At least with my toyota, it shows the exact location of all junctions and components, wire colors, specific by year, the pin assignment on all connectors & plugs and what they looks like by shape. Best usd$30 I ever spent.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    Agreed! Some factory diagrams are better than others, though. Toyota seems to have good diagrams.
  • mazda323mazda323 Member Posts: 66
    Mazda manuals have good diagrams. That's good, because some of the descriptions are a little short. I think that the intended audience for a shop manual (Mazda's manual) is someone who already has substantial knowledge in auto mechanics. How else to explain something like:
    Step 1: Support vehicle securely
    Step 2: Remove front wheels
    Step 3: Remove transmission and change clutch
    Step 4: Reinstall in reverse order
    (I am exagerating a little here)

    I am not a mechanic but I have always done all the work and maintenance I my cars and have used both the Haynes and the shop manual together. The Haynes manual provides a high level description of what you're getting into and usually provides general tips and tricks. For example, the shop manual will say to machine the flywheel when replacing the clutch. The Haynes manual will have a short paragraph that explains why a flywheel needs to be machined and what could happen if it's not done.
  • cobra98cobra98 Member Posts: 76
    yikes, all this talking made me decide to get a Factory Service Manual for my car. I just called and found out it's $116. Yikes...
  • mazda323mazda323 Member Posts: 66
    Shop around first! In my area, the price went from $100 to $175 for the same 1991 Corolla shop manual. The price varied widely from dealer to another. Same goes when buying parts.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    I agree that the factory manuals are much better for most repair jobs. However, the only ones I recall having "how it works" introductions were from the old American Motors Corp.

    If you are new to factory manuals, suggest that you first spend 2-3 hours reading and learning how the cross-references work; particularly if you are doing electrical/electronic repair. This reading is more interesting than you might expect.
  • mkstfmkstf Member Posts: 12
    buy the factory manuals , chilton etc are incomplete, show the wrong pictures , lesve out a lot of details. dont be afraid to spend 100 or more dollars on a good set of manuals . use it one time and it pays for itself!!!!!
  • tangochucktangochuck Member Posts: 1
    Need help finding a manual for 1974 maverick. can't seem to locate.... no matter where i look. Ford, Chilton, Haynes, etc. Appreciate any advice. email at [email protected]
  • bchaubchau Member Posts: 8
    You'd be amazed your local library kept those old repair manuals in their basement!
  • campocampo Member Posts: 9
    For wiring diagrams,shop manuals are by far the
    best.haynes&chilton will combine several years and come up with universal diagrams that will drive you up a tree.
  • lee18lee18 Member Posts: 45
    GM supplies a set of 5 CD-ROMs containing all the complete service manuals and service bulletins for all makes of GM cars and trucks made in the last few years.

    This CD-ROM set is free, no charge for shipping.

    The user interface is a bit of a pain, but you can't complain for free. Although most of us don't have a computer in the garage, you can at least print out relevant sections.
  • clintonjohnclintonjohn Member Posts: 99
    lee-how do I go about getting that set of CDs? also, would it cover my geo tracker, or any geo for that matter since they weren't 'true' GM cars?
  • avs007avs007 Member Posts: 100
    I have those cd's... I have the newest version too... The first version doesn't work on Win98, doh... Well, actually it works, but the installation program doesn't...

    Its great... Complete scematics, details, etc etc... Though if I ever meet the person that programmed the interface, I'll shoot them on the spot... I only say this, because as a Software Engineer myself, I make interfaces and such all the time...

    For those that aren't lucky enough to have access to it, sorry..

    Anyways, STAY AWAY from non-factory shop manuals.. Sometimes they are so vague.. I've seen some chiltons/haynes manuals with such stupid lines like.. Step 1, remove caliper assembly... Well, duh... Of course you have to remove caliper assembly, but how?

    Anyways, factory manuals give you the exact locations of everything, tools required, concise step-by-step removals, (note that I said removals, not installations... ;p )

    Anyways, whatever price the factory manuals are, I'm 100% positive it'll be worth your money... All I know that my CD's are the best $0.00 I ever spent... heh heh heh
    Seriously though, I've heard praises from people who spent $120 for their manuals...
  • avs007avs007 Member Posts: 100
    Another thing good about factory manuals... They give you the OEM Part numbers for everything, incuding the tools :)
  • bonnie_rickbonnie_rick Member Posts: 115
    Service Manuals (Topic #852)

    #0 of 2: Which one is better? (vac23) Tue 07 Dec '99 (09:45 AM)

    I am looking for a couple of service manuels. Can
    anyone recommend which is the best to
    get-Manufacturer, Haynes, chiton etc?

    #1 of 2: vac23 (bobs5) Tue 07 Dec '99 (09:53 AM)
    By my own ovbservation.
    Helm (factory)is the best.
    They are expensive
    Haynes would be second.
    Chilton would be third.

    Bonnie Rick
    Town Hall Community Manager,
  • sugardogsugardog Member Posts: 41
    I bought the factory shop manuals for every car which I have bought since 1980 (9 cars), and I never regretted it. Even if you don't work on your car, the knowledge can help you work with the repair shop to fix a problem, the more you know about the car the less the repair shop can snow you on the repair. My wife bought a 1995 Ford contour and after a year it developed a miss at 60mph. After three trips to the dealer, I called the service manager. I told her that I read the shop manual and this problem has got to be either the computer or one of the sensors.
    I asked her to have a technician check the sensors, they did and found the wires shorting out on the heated oxygen sensor. You see, there was never a code in the computer, the reason for that is there is no code for shorted wires. The problem here is that technicians don't know what to do if there is no code in the computer. In my day (60 years old), auto mechanics relyed on their experience and know-how to diagnose problems. Technicians today are not able to use their brain enough, all they know is how to repair stuff, not to diagnose anything. If I have a minor problem during the warrantee period, I am afraid to take it into the shop, because they will just replace stuff and tear stuff apart without fixing the actual problem. I only take it in if I have a good idea what the problem is, and I ask that they only check out that component.
    The factory shop manuals are best.
  • b3u12b3u12 Member Posts: 7
  • bud_light_dudebud_light_dude Member Posts: 330
    I do not work or promote Helm, but will never use any company but Helm for shop manuals. They are the most complete in diagrams, engine breakdown, components and locations, wiring, etc. The Chiltons and Haynes only touch on things and leave out very critical steps and information.

    Go with Helm. A little more money than Chilton or Haynes, but worth the extra investment.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Ok,nothing against helm,their manuals are super,and I do use them,but there has been no mention of Mitchell manuals,they have some of the best schematics in the trade.But,what ever manual you chose,do some research.There is Alldata,Mitchell and Helminc.Those are the 3 top trade manuals.
  • sdiezsdiez Member Posts: 1
    Hello Chaps, I am writing from Spain, Europe. I purchased a 1998 Camaro V6 a couple of months ago and have had no trouble with it for the time being, but I am quite eager to lay hands on maintenance and repair manuals, because Camaro is quite a newcomer to this market and the dealers are completely unfamiliar with it.

    I read about different sorts of manuals, both factory manuals and others. Can anyone confirm if factory manuals are available from GM, at least in the States? If yes, how could I get them, or can anyone give a hint as to item numbers to ask my dealer here?

    Any clues & hints on how to contact manual publishers or bookstores which could sell by mail will be specially useful. Which are the best among the non-OEM manuals?

  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Here are a couple of URLs that should be able to set you up with manuals.
  • kenmoparcakenmoparca Member Posts: 1
    sdiez,here's a site I found that sells Chilton books for 8 bucks plus shipping
  • bucky44bucky44 Member Posts: 19
    It appears that Helms does not offer Chrysler literature of any kind. Anyone know if Mitchell or Alldata have websites???

    0patience: have you (or anyone else) had any experience with the MOTOR manuals at
  • bucky44bucky44 Member Posts: 19
    Thanks for the info. I'll check them out shortly.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    I would like some more info on them.I can't believe I didn't see your post earlier.Has anyone else gotten them?lee,if you have more info,I would appreciate if you could post it or e-mail me.Thanks.
  • Does anyone know where to get the free GM repair manual CDs mentioned in posts 19-22? The 800 number listed in one of those posts is for Helm. The agent answering the phone knew nothing about the CD's.
    This is an amazing thing to have available. It's a shame to keep it secret.
  • this_is_nascarthis_is_nascar Member Posts: 199
    Does anyone know?
  • jj434jj434 Member Posts: 7
    i was lookint at and found nothing in chiltons manuals for a MB 99, is there anything else for a MB?
  • rkpattrkpatt Member Posts: 23
    I am looking for a source of flat-rate repair times that the dealers and shops use.

    where ? -thanks
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    I use a program called real-time labor guide.They have a demo disk available.Also Motor has a flat rate manual available and you can get them at any parts store,they usually cover 3 years,but run about $90.The Real-Time labor guide demo disk can be found at this site.
    No matter how you go about it,the flat rate info is expensive.If you need info on the flat rate stuff and don't want to buy any of the manuals or programs,ask these guys and I'm sure they will post the times for you.
    Hope this helps.
  • ded42ded42 Member Posts: 7
    The Haynes manuals leave out crucial steps to doing successful auto repairs. As an inexperienced non schooled do-it-myselfer, the next manual I purchase will be a factory book. My friend/professional mechanic helped me through the questionable areas of my repairs made good use of the Haynes books. No matter what book you use, there is no substitute for EXPERIENCE.
  • jj434jj434 Member Posts: 7
    i dont think chiltons makes manuals for mB, they want to have you go to the dealer to work on that brand i guess
  • bmaigebmaige Member Posts: 140
    Years ago I had a VW bug, and found a book titled, "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, For the Complete Idiot." That was a great book! The author even had line drawings of parts with strange names that you could actually SEE, rather than too dark photos, or arrows pointing into a full engine compartment that could be identifying one of five items! And he would do things like tell you an item was on the left side, then tell you the left side direction was given as if you were sitting in the driver's seat. Don't you love working on a V-6 or V-8 engine and they tell you to go to number 1 cylinder, but which is it, right or left bank, or now front or rear bank?

    Someone needs to write a manual for the backyard mechanic that takes what I call "baby steps" rather than assuming everyone knows everything. I had to write a manual for a software program at work, and my intent was to produce one that anyone could read and use without asking anyone anything. That required taking everything possible into consideration and writing it in a manner no one could misunderstand what was being said. When finished, I took it to a new lady in the office, gave her some scenarios, pulled her up in the test mode, told her to use nothing but the manual to carry out the tasks I had written down for her, and make notes of any problems she had. When she came back and told me she had put everything in, I checked her work, it was perfect, so I published the manual. Worked like a charm.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    I know exactly what you are talking about.Myself and a couple other mechanics have been kicking around that idea for quite a while now.And we have the ideas down,just not the way to put it together,eventually we will get to that point.But the biggest problem is putting it together so there is enough info,but not so much that is becomes a manual.
  • oilcan2oilcan2 Member Posts: 120
    Have found many factory shop manuals on ebay.
    also have found factory parts books,these can be
    helpful,they go anywhere from $5.00 to $70.00
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    There seems to be a little confusion about Helm and its 'manuals'.

    At least for GM and Ford, don't know about Crysler, Helms is the PUBLISHER for the 'original' shop manuals.

    In other words, Ford and GM write the manuals, and ALL MANUALS, even the ones in the service bay of your dealship, are printed and sold by Helms.

    Look in your owner's manual, they have the address and price for the various manuals available for you car - from Helms.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Heml publishes all of the manufacturer's manuals.
    Repair manuals,electrical and body manuals provided by the manufacturer are published by Helm. The european vehicels are the only ones I know of that do not use Helm.
  • camshaft1camshaft1 Member Posts: 35
    are haynes manuals better or worse than bentley? i have a 95 m3 bmw and i can only find a manual for it by bentley. any suggestions?
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Personally,I would go with the bentley manual. Haynes tends to leave a lot of info out.
  • silvernubirasilvernubira Member Posts: 59
    Does anyone know where I can get this manual?

    Thanks for any responses.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    You might try or
    They are the publishing companies for most manufacturers.
    also check
    But no one has the 2000 manuals for that vehicle out yet.

    Here is the closest I could come to what you need.
  • mr_almr_al Member Posts: 9
    I recently bought one of them Haynes Manuals, I now have some extra toilet paper when needed. What a waste. Wish I had reviewed this site before buying. Problem I had is that all the refrences to the car you have and the pictures are all noted for cars that are the earliest models in the book. I have a 93 Taurus GL, I need to connect the sway bar in the rear (bought that way) and not being the most knowledgable I am trying to find a manual to show me how these parts go together. Manual is great for an 89 Station Wagon, but that is about all. I just want to get this car together so I can sell it. Thanks Al
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Most public libraries carry a wide assortment of manuals,you can sit down and go thru them and then copy the pages on a copy machine.Usually the libraries carry Motor or Chilton's big manuals.
    Worth a check anyway.
This discussion has been closed.