1 2
Klayfish
Klayfish New Reader
7/27/10 11:47 a.m.

So here's the deal. I'm a car nut like most people here. I can talk about them forever, read magazines, etc... However, I have very little experience with a wrench in my hand. Done plenty of oil changes, but that's about it. I feel like I have a very good understanding of cars, but just never got my hands dirty much. My mechanic is probably going to put his daughter through college thanks to me.

It's about time I can do more than just bench talk about cars. Not to mention with 3 little kids at home, the budget for paying a mechanic has gotten quite small.

I just picked up my '87 Corolla FX16 GTS for HPDE. It's a former SCCA ITB car, so it's all set to go play. I want to learn to do the basics on it myself. What guide book would you recommend for a newbie who wants to get his hands dirty? Chilton?

Grtechguy
Grtechguy SuperDork
7/27/10 11:54 a.m.

google and GRM

mndsm
mndsm Dork
7/27/10 11:58 a.m.

Chilton, Haynes, the internet... and see if you can get a Factory Service manual for one of those. I've learned that a LOT of the older ones have a habit of showing up in PDF format on the internet, so it shouldn't cost you a pile, or anything, to get one.

Raze
Raze HalfDork
7/27/10 12:03 p.m.

The best guide is a wrench + time + a car you can disassemble / reassemble without relying on it for transportation. Think of a project car as a cadavre, the more time you spend doing various procedures, the easier working on any vehicle will become...

but yeah, for general procedural knowledge grab chilton or haynes, factory service manuals are really nice but can be $$$ if you can even find them, unless someone's eBaying them on CD, got the FSM + Electrical diagrams for our XR4Ti off there for $8 shipped, it's worth many, many times that...

stuart in mn
stuart in mn SuperDork
7/27/10 12:09 p.m.

www.helminc.com sells factory shop manuals for a number of late model cars, I bought a factory Civic shop manual from them once. However, for Toyotas it appears the selection is limited - they have a body manual for the FX, but that's about it.

Klayfish
Klayfish New Reader
7/27/10 12:22 p.m.

The car isn't needed for transportation. It's one and only purpose is HPDE...it wouldn't be street legal anyway...it's completely converted to SCCA use.

I'll grab a Chilton or Haynes. I think if I have a step by step guide to help me, I should be fine, but I don't want to get into something and get totally lost or really screw something up...though I suppose sometimes that's part of the learning process.

I'm going to start with simple things. I already had the car at a local road racing shop for them to look it over, as it hadn't been raced since the end of the '07 season. They said the car was a perfect track rat. To be ready to hit the track it only needed a few basics. It needs front rotors and pads, so I want to start with that. I have my NAPA rotors and picked up some Hawk pads.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
7/27/10 12:30 p.m.

+1 for haynes - learned more from that crumby book than any amount of intrw3b tomfoolery

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
7/27/10 1:04 p.m.

BGB

Ian F
Ian F Dork
7/27/10 1:06 p.m.
Raze wrote: The best guide is a wrench + time + a car you can disassemble / reassemble without relying on it for transportation. Think of a project car as a cadavre, the more time you spend doing various procedures, the easier working on any vehicle will become... but yeah, for general procedural knowledge grab chilton or haynes, factory service manuals are really nice but can be $$$ if you can even find them, unless someone's eBaying them on CD, got the FSM + Electrical diagrams for our XR4Ti off there for $8 shipped, it's worth many, many times that...

QFT!

I had done some various tasks for years... brakes, oil changes and what not... but didn't get serious until I met my g/f and her '97 M3 back in 2002... Next thing I know, I'm replacing suspension bits and doing a full Inspection II on the car, mainly using a Bentley manual as a guide... 8 years later and there isn't much I won't attempt, but some hi-lites: clutch and transmission replacement (twice) in a (new) MINI; complete tear-down and restoration rebuild of the engine bay of a Volvo 1800ES while doing a auto-manual conversion; installing a custom, aftermarket wiring harness in a Spitfire; Timing belt change in a TDI (a fairly involved job, now done 2x); and more MINI's torn apart and put back together than I can remember...

FWIW, if you only work on one car, you can usually get away with a minimal collection of tools... but when you start working on a lot of different cars by different makes and from different eras, you begin to understand why pro wrenches have $50K+ worth of tools...

Also, I generally consider myself an "advanced" DIY'er... which means I'm a better than average "parts replacer"... but when it comes to diagnostics, that's where training and experience come into play and I find myself lacking.

oldtin
oldtin HalfDork
7/27/10 1:13 p.m.

Haynes are pretty easy to understand and follow (though not always perfect). Bentley manuals are good, but may depend on the car. Internet and specialty forums are great for finding/fixing particular oddities and bits on specific cars. You can read the manuals till your eyes cross - there's no substitute for doing the work.

WilberM3
WilberM3 Reader
7/27/10 1:16 p.m.

Bentley manuals are pretty nice for BMWs and i'm sure other makes, though i havent used them elsewhere. haynes is ok for most things, and pretty good for looking up torque specs, but some wiring diagrams just plain suck and when the job is something they consider too in depth they just say to take it to a shop.... that's not why i bought the damn book!

jrw1621
jrw1621 SuperDork
7/27/10 1:20 p.m.

BGB: Big Green Book (not always green) but that is the commom name for the Toyota Factory Service Manual. I had one for my '88 Toyota MR2 and it was great.
Search around online and you might find one that has been scanned onto a website.
I think I paid roughly $40 for the MR2 version. I would think the FX16 would be similar.

Keith
Keith SuperDork
7/27/10 1:35 p.m.

Thank you for translating that. Although the factory manuals for my 1989 Toyota truck are red and black, and the manuals for my MGB and Land Rover are green...

One warning about depending on the internets. Most of the 'writeups' are written by someone who's only ever blundered through the job once and may or may not have actually done the job correctly. I'd rather have a factory manual.

ditchdigger
ditchdigger HalfDork
7/27/10 1:40 p.m.

It really depends on the car. For BMW's and VW's the bentley is number one with Haynes at a very distant 2nd. Don't even think about a chilton unless you want to use it to wipe the grease off your hands. I have a chilton here that describes the CIS fuel distributor plunger adjustment simply as "idle control screw" Sure you can cock about with the single most important fuel adjustment on a CIS car and get the idle to change but I would rather use the idle speed control that VW installed in the throttle body thank you.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 HalfDork
7/27/10 1:41 p.m.
Keith wrote: One warning about depending on the internets. Most of the 'writeups' are written by someone who's only ever blundered through the job once and may or may not have actually done the job correctly. I'd rather have a factory manual.

+1

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
7/27/10 2:20 p.m.

I think for a beginner, Haynes might be a better choice but keep in mind there is a reason they're occasionally referred to as BoL (Book of Lies) in the UK .

I like factory manuals, potentially augmented with a Chilton or Haynes.

SupraWes
SupraWes Dork
7/27/10 4:13 p.m.

Lots of trial and error, and maybe a bit of youtube. Being a good mechanic is not something you can learn in a book. Get the Toyota shop manual for your car so you can see how things go together. The haynes and chilton Manuals too generic to be of much use, there's plenty of generic help on youtube for procedures. The videos don't need to be about your car specifically just the procedure you want to do.

You could start off with some basic PM type stuff like bleeding brakes, changing belts & hoses, plugs, wires, etc...

Buckhead
Buckhead Reader
7/27/10 4:17 p.m.

youtube.com

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 Reader
7/27/10 4:47 p.m.

I was struck by the lack of specific detail in the Bentley manual for the Audi A6, but even as sketchy as it was, the manual paid for itself the first time I used it to troubleshoot a check engine light which I found was a nicked vacuum line, presumably done when a paid "mechanic" did the timing belt.

Pretty much any manual will be better than nothing, and there are a lot of good write-ups on various forums, if you have the time to find them. Just don't be afraid to tackle anything--dive right in. You'll learn it soon enough.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy Dork
7/27/10 5:03 p.m.

Best manual, the old Idiots guide for air cooled VWs. Sure it's not your car, but it doesn't matter, well worth reading cover to cover to get yourself familiar with the inner workings of any car.

From there, get either a Haynes or Chilton to go along with a Factory Service manual. Refer to the FSM first, for the way they thought the job should be done, then refer to the other manual for the way most people try to do it. Decide for yourself which is the way you want to go and use it.

oldeskewltoy
oldeskewltoy Reader
7/27/10 5:12 p.m.

stay the "F" away from a Chilton... and only use a Haynes if you absolutely have too.....

GET the FSM... NOTHING compares!

There is a website called Faxon Literature - http://www.faxonautoliterature.com/home_one.cfm - they currently appear to be down, but I've gotten factory service manuals for Toyotas as far back as the mid 1970's!!

cliff95
cliff95 New Reader
7/27/10 5:25 p.m.
oldeskewltoy wrote: stay the "F" away from a Chilton... and only use a Haynes if you absolutely have too..... GET the FSM... NOTHING compares!

Quoted for truth.

I've had the pleasure* of reading through a haynes for both work on a gen2 caravan and a gen3 firebird and leafing through one for the neon. They aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

I'm still most impressed with the gen1 neon factory manual. Best one I have seen/used - covered everything in detail and even had some design theory in it.

A bentley for BMW's is somewhere in between a Haynes and the neon factory manual in quality (It has some useful stuff and covers the basics like checking the oil and light bulbs - but it has advised to "take it to a dealer" for a couple items I was looking for - annoying, that's why I bought the book).

Cliff

slantvaliant
slantvaliant HalfDork
7/27/10 5:49 p.m.

Here's another vote for the factory service manual as the base reference. Even if they mention using tool J45378Q, the photo might show that it's something you already have, can make, or can borrow.

Haynes Manual Usage Instructions

Chiltons, Haynes, etc. - not so much. I have them for assorted cars, but am frequently frustrated by them. The "complete teardown" they are based on almost always just happens to be the engine/transmission combination I don't have.

For general "how-to", look for Stockel and Stockel, "Auto Mechanics Fundamentals", "Petersen's Automotive Troubleshooting & Repair Manual", and similar texts.

If your car has sufficient interest, someone might have written a book on it.

Agreed about internet how-to's. Read several before turning a wrench, and take it all with a grain of salt. Also note that the internet is not forever - save useful pieces locally. Meltdowns happen.

bludroptop
bludroptop SuperDork
7/27/10 6:22 p.m.
oldopelguy wrote: Best manual, the old Idiots guide for air cooled VWs. Sure it's not your car, but it doesn't matter, well worth reading cover to cover to get yourself familiar with the inner workings of any car.

John Muir's book is a gem, if for no other reason then it gives the absolute beginner a sense of what is possible. The chapter on how to remove large, high torque nuts with a hammer and chisel is worth it alone.

JThw8
JThw8 SuperDork
7/27/10 7:10 p.m.
bludroptop wrote:
oldopelguy wrote: Best manual, the old Idiots guide for air cooled VWs. Sure it's not your car, but it doesn't matter, well worth reading cover to cover to get yourself familiar with the inner workings of any car.
John Muir's book is a gem, if for no other reason then it gives the absolute beginner a sense of what is possible. The chapter on how to remove large, high torque nuts with a hammer and chisel is worth it alone.

+1000 The Muir Book, aka Idiots Guide, aka VW Bible will teach you general automotive repair tools, terminology and tricks that can and will relate to any other vehicle in simple laymans terms in a fun to read format.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
vqrCyVNsPihMDX1Tkbs26mNsrWQCNOKdMrM8HqXUIIJfIbICpbrhXjK3W90hi8le