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Notes From The Road

Finding Automotive Repair and Service Manuals
By Mike Bumbeck/autoMedia.com

Brick and Mortar
Brick and Mortar
Call us crazy, but we still cling to the antiquated idea that a bookstore is still a good place to find books. Bookstores that specialize in motorized interests are a good place to find a service manual new or used for that old SIMCA or Fiat 500 Abarth currently stored in several five gallon buckets in the backyard. There are even bookstores that specialize solely in automobile factory service manuals! Not surprisingly a number of these booksellers also have online stores to help reunite repair manuals and interested car or truck owners.
Swap Meet!
Swap Meet!
Even though it may be hard to think about while scraping ice off the windshield, summer means the return of flip-flops—and swap meets. That factory-issue service manual complete with fingerprints from the four people who tried to fix up a '71 Plymouth Fury before you is out there, somewhere. Don't just hit the automotive swaps. Branch out into flea markets and garage sales and keep your eyes open for a dog-eared copy of the Chevy II twin-book factory service set. Warning! Sometimes a book can garner interest in potential car purchases. A sawbuck plunked down for a seemingly harmless service manual can result in countless thousands of dollars sunk into finding and restoring obscure project cars.
Forums, Clubs, and Message Boards
Forums, Clubs, and Message Boards
One of the best ways to gather information about a particular make and model of automobile is to join a community that already exists. If you're the proud owner of something worthy of having its own message board then chances are good that someone truly dedicated (or similarly afflicted) has spent the time to either scan in the pages of the service manual, or host a digital version for members. Another great feature of message boards devoted to a particular machine is that someone has likely had the same mechanical problem before and outlined a way to fix it. Forum classifieds can also be a good place to pick up used manuals.
The Interwebs
The Interwebs
A quick scan of the eBay or similar will reveal hundreds if not thousands of automotive service and repair manuals. Some of these are of the factory service variety. Others of the Haynes or Chiltons sort. Personal and trouble-free experience has landed more than one manual on our own bookshelf. While there are many genuine factory service manuals from eBay and other fine online retailers, there also is a great deal of crummy bootleg CD-ROM style deals floating around. Beware of the auctions accompanied by a half page full of exclamation points or miracle claims. If it sounds too good to be true it likely is.

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