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Would You Give a Car Repair Manual as a Gift?

Things sure have changed in the last hundred years – mostly, everything becoming more complicated. Backyard mechanics used to be able to just “wing it” and get by, and car repair manuals weren’t critical. Vehicles within the last 20 years or so have become so complicated that a single misstep could result in disaster, mechanically, electronically, or medically! For the DIY mechanic in your family, might a car repair manual make a great gift?

Of course, thanks to the Internet, search engines like Google, Bing, and Dogpile, YouTube, and automotive enthusiast forums, the modern DIYer doesn’t have to “wing it” on his own. Instead, they’ll “wing it” with others, often with uncertain results. A car repair manual, on the other hand, gives even DIYers the information they need to make an effective repair. As with all things, not all car repair manuals are created equally, and may not actually be useful as a gift to the DIYer in your life. When it comes to care repair manuals, there are basically two types: professional and DIY.

Repair Manual Types

Professional car repair manuals are huge, expensive, and not readily available. Search online for a factory repair manual, and prices range up to $500, if it’s even available, for an entire car repair manual set, covering a single YMM (year, make, and model). Factory repair manuals have become so large – they tell you everything – that some automakers no longer ship printed manuals to dealership service centers, instead publishing them online, accessible only by subscription. Finally, factory shop manuals assume you work at a dealer service center, with access to your own tools as well as an array of specialized factory special tools.

DIY car repair manuals are smaller, less-expensive, and available in multiple formats, but why would this make a great gift? First, they’re usually a single volume, and rarely do they cost over $60, but that’s not what makes them great for DIYers. Whether you choose a ChiltonDIY subscription or Chilton Total Car Care manual, users will find the information easy to digest, as the entire manual is written in step-by-step format, using readily-available tools and only the information needed to make the repair. Exploded diagrams and photographs make everything easy to understand. Chilton DIY manuals are truly useful and would make a great gift for the automotive enthusiast in your life.

A Small Comparison

  • “Free” Car Repair Manual Download – $0 – Illegal everywhere, so you could be responsible for copyright damages. Also, most likely bundled with “extra features,” such as malware, spyware, computer viruses, Trojan Horses, worms, keyloggers, etc.
  • Used Factory Repair Manuals – Prices Vary, up to $500 – Specific YMM may be impossible to find.
  • Toyota Information System (TIS) – $75/mo or $400-$1,095/yr – Browser-accessible, but limited professional support and not written for the DIYer. It covers all Scion, Toyota, and Lexus models. Other automakers have similar plans.
  • ChiltonDIY Online Subscription – $30/yr each YMM – Browser-Accessible, so you can see it on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, or print individual pages. Professional Support available, for a small fee, to answer questions. Online option to browse and buy parts online.
  • Chilton Car Care Manual – $30-$40 each YMM – Old-fashioned printed manual in one volume, complete with step-by-step common repair instructions, diagnostic steps, exploded diagrams, and photographs. No additional support or online access.

At first glance, a car repair manual might not seem like a great gift, but for budding mechanics or the DIYer who would appreciate a practical gift, a ChiltonDIY manual might be right up their alley!

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a DIYer, here are some of our most popular brands of car repair manuals:

Here’s our page where you can select whichever car brand the DIYer in your life desires:

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