What's in an OEM Service Manual?

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  #1  
Old 09-19-03, 11:49 AM
BA-35
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Question What's in an OEM Service Manual?

I'd like to say up front that I'm not the most mechanically inclined person on the planet. But, I'm a new homeowner and a soon-to-be first time papa, so I've been trying to learn and do more myself. This site has been very helpful!

Now to my questions...What exactly is in an OEM service manual? Suppose I think my alternator is bad. Will the manual tell me how to remove it? test it? replace it? Are the manuals user friendly? Are there pictures\diagrams? Can they be used by non-mechanics? Will they help me troubleshoot problems?

Basically, I'm trying to decide if a service manual is an appropriate purchase for a beginner shadetree mechanic. I'll take alll the advice I can get.

As I said earlier, I wouldn't exactly call myself handy. But, in the last year, I've replaced my home's hot water heater, A/C capacitor, and two downspouts--thanks primarily to help\advice from these forums! With good instructions, these things were manageable, but I'm still terribly afraid of screwing up and making things worse. Also, I do have experience learning from textbooks (as opposed to a live teacher), but, so far, it's been mathematics not auto repair.

If it matters, I own a 1997 Honda Accord (5-speed, 4 cyl, 4 dr).

Thanks for everyone's help!
 
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  #2  
Old 09-19-03, 12:03 PM
Joe_F
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An OEM shop manual is the same manual the dealer techs use to fix the car. It contains about every piece of information or service operation that a technician can ever encounter.

Think about it this way. If you went in for surgery to a doctor, you wouldn't want him to have a generic surgeon's manual to do your surgery, would you?

"Oh shoot, they leave out this part about the heart. Ah, they are all the same, what the hay, I'll just work around it!!"

NO! You'd want him/her to be the most informed person when treating you. Same with your vehicle. No difference.

Are they daunting? They can be. Hondas can be a bit complicated.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Worth every penny if you are going to do your own work. I wouldn't even squibble at the price, I would cut a check and be done with it.

You can find them used on Ebay and through the internet. Just as good used as new. That's what I've done. I paid $15 for my manual for my Cavalier. A Chilton or Haynes which is far inferior to the GM shop manual will run you $15!!

You can test your alternator by using the alternator test I have in my "The Basics" below.

Should you buy the book? Absolutely. I have been working on cars since I was five (I'm 32 now) and I own a factory shop manual for EVERY one of my six cars.

If money's an issue (shouldn't be, you've seen why), you can buy a $25 yearly Alldata.com subscription. Not bad, but for probably $75 you can get a Honda OEM manual and have the best information out there.

Hope that helps.
 
  #3  
Old 09-19-03, 12:55 PM
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Location: Barre,Vermont
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OEM MANUALS ARE BY FAR THE MOST ACCURATE (STILL PLENTY OF ERRORS, THOUGH).
USUALLY U NEED TO ORDER THEM, WHICH IS WHY I GUESS SOMEONE BUY A CHILTON OR WHATEVER. YOU GO INTO PARTS ADVANTAGE AND THERE THEY ARE...SITTING THERE, WAITING FOR U TO BUY.
 
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Old 09-19-03, 01:21 PM
BA-35
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Thanks guys. Sounds like it's what I need--step by step instructions for lots of repairs. The next step, I guess, is to start assembleing a proper tool box.

The alternator was just an example, but that is a good tip.

One last thing, I could be mistaken, but I think the on-line references are no longer available for Honda\Accura.
 
  #5  
Old 09-19-03, 01:37 PM
Joe_F
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Alldata.com sells subscriptions for Honda/Acura. However, they have stopped publishing the bulletins titles like the other car makers have done.

Again, the factory shop manual is the only way to go.
 
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