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For all you "do-it-yourselfers" out there ... the Chilton manual for any car is going to seem like old hat. It's something I've dabbled with for all of the vehicles I've owned. Here's an overview of what this book is all about, with a few of my thoughts afterwards.
SECTION ONE - GENERAL INFORMATION AND MAINTENANCE
This seems just what a novice, or somewhat novice "do-it-yourselfer" needs with any book of this type.
Section one describes many of the tools you will need while working on your car. It also describes what certain hardware items, such as nuts and bolts are all about ... things such as how much pressure they can take and what the markings on them mean.
Next there is a bit about safety. It explains such simple and many times overlooked things to remember, such as keeping a fire extinguisher handy, wearing goggles, and to always "PULL" on a wrench rather than "PUSH" on it whenever possible.
This manual also explains how to identify what type of engine your vehicle has, as well as other parts of the car ... then continues on about how to do regular maintenance things such as inspecting belts, hoses, fluids, tires and more.
SECTION TWO - ENGINE PERFORMANCE AND TUNE-UP
Once again , this section of the manual presents itself in a very clear and concise way that is not very difficult to understanding. It explains each step in such things such as ignition timing,idle speed and mixture adjustments and valve lash.
One thing this section fails to do is really tell you how to FIND some things. An example would be the case of my friends Sable with a 3.8 liter engine. In MY Sable with a 3.o liter engine, locating the spark plugs and wires is very easy, they are right out where you can see them. In the case of the 3.8 liter engine, the three across the back of the engine are hidden so much, you can't even find them ...
Over all, this section does a good job explaining what each system does and how to make checks, adjustments and replacements.
SECTION THREE - ENGINE AND ENGINE OVERHAUL
This part covers the engine and it's component parts as far as the electrical, mechanical and exhaust aspects go.
This has been the section that we have been through over and over the past two weeks, with the self destruction of the water pump in both of our sables.
All I can tell you is know what you are getting into. If at all possible, go through each step of what you are trying to repair in your head before you even start. Take the book out to the car with you and read each step, mentally doing each item in your head while examine the car. If you seem to get lost, or are just not sure what some part or step involves, that should be a sign to just leave well enough alone and get professional help. While the actual procedures involved with making certain repairs are clear, trying to figure out WHAT engine you're dealing with may not be as clear.
Each procedure, such as replacement of a water pump, is gone through with sufficient information and detail to complete the task at hand, however, each procedure also has separate steps for each kind of engine that might be involved. Sometimes, trying to figure out which engine type and what year you are reading about is confusing. I almost would rather they listed ALL the procedure for the 3.0 liter engine, then listed all the procedures for the 3.8 liter engine, the 3.8 liter SHO, and so on. In that way, at least you would know clearly, which paragraph you should be reading.
SECTION FOUR - EMISSION CONTROLS
This covers exactly what it says, the emission system, yet other than various sensors and emission this and emission that, it also deals with the electronic controls for the engine and the self-diagnostic systems you can use to understand what is wrong with the car.
For what this section covers, it seems to do a fair job. Personally, from experience, this just isn't something I would usually tackle. To me, it seems that todays cars are almost TOO dependant on this sensor and that sensor to make everything run smoothly. Slightly messing up one thing can have enough repercussions that the car might not run at all. If you know what you're doing, and feel comfortable with these things, then this book should give you plenty of information, including what all the trouble codes mean, to help you out.
SECTION FIVE - FUEL SYSTEM
This section does a good job explaining what the fuel injection system is, as well as other things such as "Sequential Electronic Fuel Injection". As stated before, try and figure out what you are getting into. This section seems to cover levels of expertise ranging from the extreme novice to the seasoned professional mechanic. Deciding which you are and what to attempt will be a little difficult. Be warned!
SECTION SIX - CHASSIS ELECTRICAL
This covers EVERYTHING it seems. From switches, to radios to lighting and cruise control, you won't have any trouble finding what you need here.
This book earns bonus points from me for including full wiring diagrams for all the electrical systems. It also has a "key" to explain what all the symbols on the diagrams mean.
I've used other repair manuals that just don't contain wiring diagrams anymore. Sometimes these are very helpful, and these particular ones are presented well.
If you have an idea what you are doing, these may be your best friend when it comes to repairing a short circuit or other electrical problem.
SECTION SEVEN - DRIVE TRAIN
This section covers the clutch, as well as manual and automatic transmissions. The instructions are very specific with plenty of diagrams.
SECTION EIGHT - SUSPENSION AND STEERING
Once again plenty of photos, diagrams and exploded views help you get through virtually any repair or replacement you might need to do. Some of these things might seem to have lengthy instructions, but that's because each small step is addressed.
SECTION NINE - BRAKES
Working on brakes has always been pretty scary for me ... I guess it's just something as important as stopping the car has me worried about doing things right. This usually has me "helping" someone else do the work on my car.
Brake pads aren't usually very difficult to do with the right tools. With this book, I think most people would be able to follow along and do the work themselves, and in the long run, you'll save anywhere from 50%-300% by NOT taking the car to a garage to have the work done.
SECTION TEN - BODY
So you say you have that dented bumper replaced or that door that got banged up when your friend backed into your car. This section is great for just those things ...
Get to the junk yard, buy that bumper and you'll be on your way. The step by step instructions here will make removal and installation of any part of your cars' chassis easy!
I'd like to see some sort of coding or key included in this book. Something that would help to tell a level of expertise required to perform a specific task. As it is, lumped together in sections, some very easy tasks and mixed in with something you'd only want a mechanic to handle.
Visually, through use of charts, photos, diagrams and exploded views, this book is tremendous ... I doubt you'll find something better to work with.
If you're an average person such as myself, you'll most likely never use most of this book, yet it will probably save you some money in the long run by doing your own maintenance and simple repair work.
Reading through the book can help you understand a bit more about your car. This is always nice. Why ? Because when you DO take your car in for some sort of repair work, you'll be able to ask the right questions, and understand better what the mechanic is telling you. This should hopefully allow you to understand if only the work that needs doing, and only the correct work is being done to your car.
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