Your car owner’s manual is a great source of informationWritten by Nick Shultz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
My son called the other day to let me know his vehicle had just quit running and he was sitting alongside the roadway. I can tell you that trying to diagnose a vehicle’s problem over the telephone can be tough. Trying to diagnose a symptom over a cell phone as cars and trucks are whizzing by makes the job even tougher. Nonetheless, without too much trouble, we were able to figure out that the vehicle wasn’t getting any fuel. Why it wasn’t getting any fuel was still up in the air, and needed further diagnosis. My boy doesn’t carry a lot of tools with him and, even if he did, the roadside is not the place to perform in-depth diagnosis. The actual problem couldn’t be identified on the highway.
Considering his current circumstances, we determined that a tow truck and a good service shop was the best solution. A little while later I got a call back from my boy, he had found the problem.
Apparently, he was sitting in his car awaiting the tow truck’s arrival when he decided to read the owner’s manual. While reading the owner’s manual, he noticed that the fuel pump’s electrical circuit contained an in-line fuse. He checked the fuse and found that it was blown. He installed a new fuse and the vehicle started.
He was very happy, as you might imagine, because fuel pumps for late model cars don’t come cheap. When you add in the cost of labor, well, a second mortgage may have been necessary in order to get the car out of hock.
The lesson he gained can be shared with all of us; that lesson is simply how valuable the vehicle’s owner’s manual can be. Located between all the disclaimers, warnings and cautions, you will find valuable information.
Not only can you find the location of all the fuses and relays aboard your car, you can usually find some very handy troubleshooting charts. Those troubleshooting charts cover a wide range of common vehicle problems.
The proper operation of all the different switches and electrical devices are contained within the owner’s manual. How do you set up and operate that combination GPS/six-disc CD player with am/fm radio and voice command logic? You’ll find the entire procedure within the owner’s manual.
What should the tire pressure be set at when you’re pulling your boat? The answer is located in the owner’s manual.
What light bulb should be used for the blinkers? The owner’s manual lists all the part numbers for everyone of the bulbs used on the vehicle.
The owner’s manual is your source of information for fluid capacities and fluid specifications for both summer and winter driving. Air filter and oil filter part numbers are also found within the manual.
The proper vehicle weight ratings and loading information are contained in the owner’s manual as well. Vehicle maintenance schedules can be found within the owner’s manual.
You will also find warranty information and manufacturer contact telephone numbers.
You will find the proper way to wash your car in the owner’s manual. The manual will inform you of the proper soaps and waxes you can safely use on your painted surfaces as well as on your leathers and plastics.
If you have all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive on your vehicle there will be an entire section on the proper use of those features. The proper function of the traction control and anti-lock brake systems is discussed in detail.
While writing this article, I was perusing my own vehicle’s owner’s manual and found an interesting feature that my car’s interior lighting system has that I was totally unaware of. Apparently, I can have my interior lamps turn off immediately after closing the driver’s door or I can have them slowly dim after the door is closed. I was unaware of this cool feature.
I guess I should have read my own owner’s manual rather than assume I knew everything there is to know about my car. My point is that even an experienced technician can’t know everything there is to know about every car on the road. Even his or her own car can have features the technician is unaware of.
My son inadvertently reminded me of a valuable information source that I often overlook. I am so used to looking up complex service information in thick-bound service manuals or on computer based service information systems that I sometimes forget about the handy information source located right in the glove box.
Although we won’t be able to disassemble and reassemble the transmission using the owner’s manual, we surely will be able to locate the fuses using it.
Nick Shultz is an instructor of Automotive Technologies at Owens Community College. He is an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau who specializes in cases involving the Ohio and Michigan Lemon laws. He is a certified master automotive technician by ASE, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Shultz, a Toledo native, will take questions from email@example.com.