Auto repair manuals are extremely important to get the job done right and quickly. Anyone who has attempted a complicated repair job can attest to the importance of solid instructions.
When I first started out working on cars, I went to the auto parts store
and picked up a cheap repair guide. It worked great at first. As I
started getting into more complicated repairs and bigger jobs, I
found out is that these simple guides were often missing a lot of the information I
needed... and when it did contain the info, many times it was just too general
to be of any use.
As I transitioned to working as a full time mechanic, I found out that a good repair manual with accurate details makes all the difference - It allows me to save time troubleshooting problems, cut down on repair costs and avoid expensive mistakes.
Considered by many professional mechanics and auto dealers to be the gold standard in auto repair information, ALLDATAdiy offers professional grade manuals for over 30,000 vehicles.
That makes you will be able to find specific diagnostic and repair information for your vehicle's year, make and model (see a sample here).
Their exhaustive database caters to almost all vehicles manufactured from the 1980s and onwards. They also offer information for even older vehicles but it is not quite as extensive and sometimes you have to call or chat with a representative in order to get what you need.
I consider this to be the best auto repair manual because it is the easiest to use (step by step instructions for troubleshooting and repairs) plus contains all the information you will need in one place (detailed diagrams, parts list and even prices for OEM components).
To learn more about it, click here for my full ALLDATAdiy review.
Another good repair manual that is on the same level as Alldata (just not as good in my opinion) is called Mitchell1 or Ondemand5. This company provides all of the same information as Alldata but just in a different format. In my opinion the information is much harder to find and is not organized as well as with Alldata.
One thing that Mitchell1 does a little better is wiring diagrams. When you pull up a wiring diagram you have the option of highlighting a particular circuit in a specific color. This gets more important if you are working on a complex electrical problem.
While I would choose Alldata first Mitchell1 or Ondemand5 is easily my second choice. Read more about Mitchell1 here.
The only other halfway decent repair manuals out there are Chiltons and Haynes. These repair guides are good starter guides for repairs that are not too in depth and when you don't need a lot of detail. Things like brake jobs and maintenance items can be done easily using these guides.
While I would buy either Alldata Mitchell1 (since they are the same price or less) before I would consider either of these, some people prefer to have a printed guide in their hand. In that case, these are the ones for you.
If you are looking for free auto repair manuals you will most likely not find any that meet your needs well. There are no company's that I know of that provide free auto repair information. This type of information is just too valuable to give away for free.
That being said there is one place that I know of where you can find some general information about your vehicle for free. Every vehicle is not listed and you will likely need more information than they have, but you may be able to find what you need. Read more about this free auto repair information here.