The Best Car Service Manuals

As a car enthusiast and active DIY-er, the best thing you can have in your garage is a service manual. This manual has step by step instructions on everything related to your car. Using it you can become partially independent of mechanics and solve basic to slightly complex repairs. But when it comes to service manuals, there are so many in the market that choosing one becomes confusing. Fortunately for you, we are always ready to help and with this article, we will try to clear your confusion.

The two best commercial manuals are published by Haynes and Chilton.

Haynes Service Manual

The Haynes service manual first came out in the ’60s and it has sort of dominated the service manual scene since then. What makes it so good is that it is designed by professionals in such a way that even a beginner enthusiast can get a hang of a repair job. It is because of such intricacies that Haynes managed to capture a lot of the market share from its competitors. Nowadays, you can find a Haynes manual not only for several cars, SUVs, and trucks but also for ATVs and motorcycles. They are so good that thousands of people prefer Haynes over anyone else.

Chilton Service Manual

If you are a believer in “Old is Gold” then Chilton is the one for you. Founded in 1904, this company started printing manuals at a time when cars were still in their infancy. You can imagine the expertise and knowledge the folks at Chilton must have to be able to publish manuals for vehicles that are more than 100 years old!

Search anywhere and you won’t find a mechanic that is disappointed with the Chilton workshop manual. The company has guided and helped generations of people and they continue to do so. They have been around for more than a century, which is enough evidence of their commitment to producing remarkable workshop manuals. Chilton, unlike other manual publishers, goes into extreme detail about every car. You can find model-specific manuals by Chilton as well, a luxury not provided by others. What’s more, the guides are so well put together and helpful that they can assist pros and teach beginners all at the same time.

Factory Service Manuals

Each car has a specific factory issued service manual when built from factory, often this document is produced even before production of your vehicle had begun. The purpose of a factory workshop manual is to provide the dealerships and associated mechanics with clear proper instruction on how to repair the cars both during warranty period and beyond. Such manuals can often be found online free of charge from manufacturers websites, or you can often ask your local dealer or head office for a digital copy.

Which is better?

The two titans in the commercial service manual industry have been locking horns with each other for ages. To some, one is better than the other but if you ask us, there is no clear winner. Each manual has its pros and cons so what works for one might not work for another and that is acceptable.

But to put things into perspective it is necessary to look at things critically and make an analysis based on that criticism.

The Haynes guide is known to have more pictures and diagrams accompanying the text making it easier for the beginner DIYer to get a hold of the repairing process. These manuals are also more general, in that they are not model specific.

The Chilton service manual, on the other hand, is the perfect tool for a beginner or pro as it goes into deep detail about everything. There might not be enough illustrations but the information in the text is profound and eye-opening.

The factory service manual is often available free of charge and contains all information direct from your manufacturer, however obtaining these for older cars can be difficult as dealers normally stop stocking such documents after around 10 years. There are some resources online however that offer manuals for older vehicles when dealerships no longer have use for them.


At the end of the day, it depends on what you feel is right. Each manual has its importance and strength so choose wisely because you have the power.

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