10 Best Car Repair Manuals of 2022 – Chilton vs Haynes vs Online

The best car repair manuals allow for effective repairs without the need to guess or disassemble an entire vehicle. Here is a comparison of ten popular brands.

8 Best Auto Repair Manuals

There are plenty of at-home car repairs you can do yourself, especially if you have the instructions showing you how to get it done. With the best car repair manuals, you don’t have to wonder how to change a headlight or disassemble the engine; all of the directions are laid out in an easy-to-understand fashion. 

While the top names in the industry have always been Haynes and Chilton, you don’t want to overlook the value of your factory service manual. There’s also the option to use ALLDATA, eManualOnline, Mitchell1, Workshop Manuals, iFixit, AutoMD, and AutoZone. 

Your needs and the vehicle you are working on will dictate which option is best for you. In this guide, we look at all ten options, showing you the pros and cons of each.

Disclaimer – This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

10 Best Auto Repair Manuals

1. ALLDATAdiy Repair Manual

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This online resource can easily be labeled the most comprehensive and detailed in digital terms. With a library covering more than 30,000 vehicles since the 1980s, it’s unlikely that you will have trouble finding your model. All of the instructions are included with diagrams, illustrations, and part numbers, so you don’t have to wonder what you should be doing. 

Coupon code for 10% OFF One Year Subscription: DISCOUNTDIY

While there are options for professionals, the home user will only need ALLDATAdiy, which gives you access to the manual for one vehicle. Not only will you get the repair instructions, but it also includes service bulletins, maintenance procedures, and the location of every part. 

The ALLDATA DIY subscription offers a variety of pricing options. For 1-month access to one vehicle, you will spend $19.99. However, it’s smarter to choose the 1- or 3-year subscription options if you plan to use the manual again in the future. 

  • Pros: Many vehicles covered, easy to understand instructions, plenty of diagrams
  • Cons: You only gain access for a specified time
  • Format: Online
  • Cost: $19.99-$129.99 (depending on subscription length)

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2. eManualOnlineShow?Id=Pr6*Fiylufq&Amp;Bids=819677

If you don’t like the subscription model, you might prefer the benefits of using eManualOnline instead. With this online service, you search for your vehicle type and the manuals you can access are revealed. The majority of what you will find is the factory service or repair manual, but there are also some wiring diagrams and parts catalogs available with certain models. 

It’s not easy to find the newest cars with eManualOnline, but older models seem to be well covered. Plus, the checkout process couldn’t be any easier. You find the manual you want and pay for it to gain an instant download. The manual is yours to keep forever.

Most of the manuals cost between $10 and $45. However, there are often pop-up coupons that you can apply to your purchase. 

  • Pros: One-time fee, more than service manuals, easy checkout
  • Cons: Format isn’t uniform across vehicles
  • Format: Online
  • Cost: $10-$45 (average)

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3. Mitchell1 Repair Manual

You could contend that Mitchell1 is in direct competition with ALLDATAdiy and you would be right. These two subscription-based services have a lot of similarities. However, some customers find that navigating Mitchell1 can be a little more difficult. It isn’t as well laid out as ALLDATAdiy. 

However, if you need to find a wiring diagram, this is one area that Mitchell1 excels in. Some of the wiring diagrams are interactive, so you can focus on a particular circuit, helping you find your way across a system that’s complex. 

While the subscription price for Mitchell1 is $19.95 for a month, it makes more sense to sign-up for a year. At just $29.95, you can use the information for a full 12 months. However, the best value is a 4-year subscription at $44.95.

  • Pros: Cost-effective, comprehensive wiring diagrams
  • Cons: Difficult to navigate, no permanent access
  • Format: Online
  • Cost: $19.95-$44.95 (depending on subscription length)

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4. Haynes Vehicle Workshop Manuals

At-home auto mechanics and those stumped by an automotive problem have relied on the knowledge of Haynes for decades. The instruction manuals provided by this company come in paperback format and are stuffed full of comprehensive guides. It’s equivalent to having a mechanic standing by your side telling you what to do next.

Plus, the manuals are filled with illustrations to use if you learn visually. Haynes doesn’t just have manuals for cars but also the top ATVs and motorcycles. The majority of print books cost $26.95, but there can be some variation to this.

However, Haynes now offers access to many booklets online. You can get a lifetime subscription to the manual for around the same price. If you prefer to have limited access for a specified period of time, you might be able to pay even less. 

  • Pros: Print books available, detailed illustrations, recreational vehicles covered
  • Cons: Might have trouble finding older models
  • Format: Print/Online
  • Cost: Around $27 (print or online)

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5. Chilton Repair Manuals

If you are an advanced mechanic, you might be looking for something without all of the unnecessary illustrations. In this case, the Chilton books might serve you better. These guides are designed to appeal to qualified technicians, with lots of text that uses shop talk instead of common language.

While Chilton offers manuals for a wide range of vehicles, you will often do best to find information on older models instead. If you are trying to work on an antique, it’s likely that there’s a Chilton manual for your application. The printed models are also about $27, keeping them comparable to Haynes.

Plus, Chilton is now online. You can sign up for a 30-day subscription at $24.95, but it makes much more sense to get the full year at $29.95. Additionally, this online access opens you up to the online community where you can learn further tips from professionals.

  • Pros: Print books available, lots of older models
  • Cons: Lack of illustrations
  • Format: Print/Online
  • Cost: $25-$30 (print or online)

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6. Workshop Manuals

If you are looking to get information for free, it makes sense to start at Workshop Manuals. For some vehicles, you don’t have to spend a penny to get the data you need. If your model has free manuals, you will enjoy the comprehensive guide at no cost. 

However, the site is difficult to navigate. Plus, there are a lot of pop-ups to deal with as you move through the site, which can become quickly annoying. Still, it’s hard to argue with free.

  • Pros: Free, comprehensive guides available for select models
  • Cons: Lack of models included, difficult to navigate the site
  • Format: Online
  • Cost: Free

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7. iFixit – The Free Repair Manual

There’s another option if you need a free resource. You can rely on the users at iFixit for a solution. This handy website was created so users could share troubleshooting and repair information on a variety of things, such as cars. However, there’s also information on how to fix computers, phones and so much more.

If a guide has been created for your vehicle, you might find detailed information, including some photos. These have all been uploaded by someone who has performed the steps you are reading. There are also forums where you can discuss the problems with other owners to see if you can find a solution without buying a guide. 

  • Pros: Free, fix a multitude of objects
  • Cons: Lack of models included, user-generated content might not be accurate
  • Format: Online
  • Cost: Free

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8. AutoMD DIY Repair Guides

Another free online option is provided by AutoMD. This platform makes it simple for you to search for a particular topic to complete your auto repair. However, you won’t be able to search based on the vehicle itself but will be looking at the basic instructions that apply across the board.

These guides are helpful if you want a general concept of how something works or what you should do for maintenance. The guides also tell you what tools and parts you might need. Because it’s free, it’s always worth a look. 

  • Pros: Free, easy to use site
  • Cons: Generic information, not written by model
  • Format: Online
  • Cost: Free

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9. AutoZone Automotive Service Books

You already trust AutoZone with your car part needs, so why not give the site a try when you require detailed repair instructions? With some free repair guides, you can get the basics of your next project quickly. 

While the majority of information isn’t going to be given to you on a professional level, there’s plenty of content that helps you do some basic problem-solving. You can quickly figure out what’s wrong with your car based on the feel, smell, sound or look. Once you have the problem diagnosed, you already know what company to turn to for the parts.

  • Pros: Trusted provider, easy to use website
  • Cons: Lack of information available 
  • Format: Online
  • Cost: Free

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10. Factory Service Manual

Ideally, if you want to repair your vehicle, the best place to start is with the factory service manual created by the automaker. However, these comprehensive guides aren’t always easy to find. Many people get tired of looking, which is why they are forced to rely on third-party companies for a written guide. 

It’s also very easy to get ripped off when looking for a genuine repair manual because every scammer knows how difficult they can be to find. You can start by checking with your local dealership to see if there’s a way to get a service manual for your particular model. 

If that doesn’t work, you can do a search online, but proceed with caution. One reputable site that we’ve found is AllCarManuals.com, but it’s certainly not the only one. Of course, each online provider seems to specialize in a few makes and models, with this site focused heavily on some that are foreign. 

  • Pros: Directly from the manufacturer, comprehensive information
  • Cons: Hard to find, easy to get ripped off 
  • Format: Print/Online
  • Cost: Varies based on source

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What Car Repair Manual Should You Choose?

Cost

Your first consideration will almost always come down to cost. After all, none of us wants to spend more than necessary to get a job done.

In a lot of circumstances, it makes sense to browse the free resources first. After all, if you can find the guide you need for free, you’ve saved yourself a little cash for a rainy day. 

On the other end, it’s also easy to spend a lot of wasted time doing this. If you are a professional, time is money and it might be better to get a paid-for manual and move on. 

Lifetime vs. Subscription

The cost brings us right to our next point. Will you want to access the guide forever or do you only need it once?

If you are only fixing one thing and you don’t plan on keeping the car, a short subscription might be best. You can use the guide and be done with it. However, if you have a project car or you anticipate more issues in the future, you might as well save some money with lifetime access or a more lengthy subscription plan. 

Application

A lot depends on the type of car you drive. After all, not every guide service has your car listed in it. If a Haynes or Chilton manual hasn’t been written for your car, you won’t be able to use these companies. 

If you drive an older model or rare brand, you might have more trouble finding what you need. A quick search online should help you figure out what companies have set up guides for you. 

Expertise

Some of the options are geared more to the weekend warrior. If you have basic knowledge, you will want to stick to something easy to understand, even as simple as AutoZone or iFixit.

However, if you are an established mechanic that needs in-depth guidance, you will want a professional guide instead. Look at the reputable options listed at the top of this post for the most comprehensive information. 

Format

How will you want to access the information? If you want a book to reference, you are looking at getting a print version of the factory service manual or one from either Chilton or Haynes.

Otherwise, you can choose from a multitude of options to gain online access. Just be careful what format is offered if you need to download the manual. It might not be compatible with all of your devices. 

Category: Reviews
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Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.