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Choosing a Service Manual

A Jeep Factory Service ManualA question I often receive from readers is "What service manual is the best?" Any response to this question is of course purely opinionated, but let me present to you what I have learned through my experience. This will hopefully illustrate why I have made the decision to use only service manuals that the professional mechanics use.

I used to faithfully use the Haynes brand manual for any vehicle I owned. They are available at nearly any bookstore, auto parts store, and are rather inexpensive. The problem with a Haynes manual is that many of the processes are too briefly explained and if you haven't done a certain task before you are left helpless. The Chilton's manuals I have found are slightly more helpful than Haynes but are a little harder to find and they cost more money than a Haynes. There was a huge problem with both brands that ultimately led to my not using either one.

For my Trans Am (sold), I bought a copy of both the Haynes and Chiltons. For my engine, the spark plug firing order was listed differently in each manual. Since the spark plug firing order is so critical, I called each publisher and asked if there was a correction to this page and they each verified that the copy I had was the correct and current edition. It was at this point I tossed both Haynes and Chiltons in the trash and bought a factory service manual (FSM).

When I bought my Jeep, I found that to buy a Jeep FSM I had to order it from Daimler-Chrysler's Technical Authority online store. An FSM is about $100 but well worth it. My TJ manual weighs in at 1,635 pages versus 350 pages for a Chiltons. In addition, my FSM is specifically for my 2001 TJ, not for a range of years like Haynes and Chilton print. This is great because my manual is detailed for all of the items that are on my vehicle. With a Chilton or Haynes you sometimes find yourself following instructions that are written for a different model year and they don't apply to your model, thus wasting your time.

FSM Benefits over Haynes Chilton

For the most part this sums up my complaints with Haynes and Chilton. I really have to say that the FSM is a bargain at $100 seeing how I have been able to complete projects on my own. Had I been using a lesser manual, I would have possibly had to take my vehicle to the mechanic.

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Page created on 7/16/2004
Last updated on 7/29/2004