Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Useful remnants of that past life

As I was cleaning out some directories on a server to be decommissioned, I found an old webpage full of links to various manufacturers service information websites. This is where you turn when you need the official word of the manufacturer, when the parts store manuals just won't do.  You can also order service manuals and wiring diagrams from many of these sites.

I have updated the list and offer it here.  Most will cost you something, some are reasonable, some are not.  Almost all require Internet Explorer, a couple appear to still be happiest with (egad!) IE6.  This is the info which sorts the free scan at CheapoPartsWorld from the $100-$200 scan at the dealership- actual facts and details, technical service bulletins and more.  Note: if you are working on older vehicles, make sure information is available for your model year before spending your money.  This is a list of US sites, you may need to dig around to find the appropriate site of you are outside of the US (or find an appropriately-located exit node, but vehicles outside of the US may be different than US-spec vehicles).  Below find links to the sites, a little info on pricing, and maybe a description or snarky comment.

Prices start at ten bucks for three days of Honda or Acura information.

"If you're looking for service and parts information for Honda and Acura vehicles, please check out our Web site.The same factory-authorized information available to our dealers is available to you. ServiceExpress has all vehicle service information back to 1990, plus all active bulletins back to the early '70s."

Not a bargain, but if you own a Beemer, you already expected that, no?  Starts at $30 a day, goes up to $2500 for a year.  Note: this is auto-only, no motorcycle info here.

General Motors/Saab
The AC-Delco site is what you wish others were- more info than you can handle, some free content (like parts info), subscriptions for premium content start at $20 for three days.

Free.  Yes, FREE service information- and even offers some free training, too.

Online subscriptions start at $19.99 for a one-day subscription.

"Unlimited online access to Infiniti Service Manuals, Technical Service Bulletins, Interactive Online Training, and more for the duration of your online viewing subscription"

Jaguar is especially difficult (of course).  They won't even let you get subscription prices without completing an annoying registration.  A couple of years ago (when they were still part of Ford) prices started at $10 per day for a single vehicle model and went up from there.

Another "register first" site, prices used to start at $10 for three days, but Kia owners could access the same info for $10 a week.

A good site, lots of information, a decent amount of free information, subscriptions start at $10.95 for a single model for three days.

Your tech info source for Chrysler Corporation vehicles, which may come in handy considering how hard it is these days to find a Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealer with the doors open and the lights on.  Subscriptions start at $20 for one day.

Anti-theft codes, bulletins, and service manuals can be found here, subscriptions starting at $19.95 a day.


This is the same site as BMW, with the same issues- from $30 a day for subscriptions.

This one is a pretty good site, they even let you search before you buy, so you can make sure you are getting the answers you need for your money. Subscription start at $19.95 a day.

Excellent coverage, including easily printable downloads of information. It is easy to use and includes some videos. Access costs start at $19.99 for one day.

I haven't checked in a while, but last time I looked this was not the most user-friendly site- but it is Mercedes, so they don't really expect a lot of do-it-yourself types to be hacking away at their SLR McLaren in the driveway. Subscriptions start at $18 for 24 hours.

Obtuse and impossible to navigate. Used to be pay per document, but now, who knows.  There's a guy near the Porsche dealer who used to work there and got sick of the BS so he opened his own shop, go to him for help. Really, this is true almost everywhere.

Subaru [edit- added entry]

Thanks to tw000 for adding this one in the comments- Subaru's pricing starts at $34.95 for 72 hours, and they have a free tutorial on the use of the site available without registration.

Toyota, Scion, Lexus
This is one of the best technical information centers, starting at $15 for a two-day personal subscription.

"A Standard TIS subscription provides access all of the product support information necessary to maintain, diagnose, and repair vehicles manufactured by Toyota and marketed in the USA. As a general rule, model coverage begins with the 1990 model year with some information, like Technical Service Bulletins, available back to 1987."

Volvo breaks down payment by desired information. For instance, wiring info is $4 for 3 days, service bulletins $3 for three days, and so on.  Yes, it is a pain. But a safety-first pain.

VW    Audi 
Not so user friendly. Yes, this is a trend with German manufacturers, they hate you, get over it.  Another "register before you even get pricing" site. The first thing you will notice is the certificate mismatches, apparently VW/Audi are new at the Internet. But, if you are desperate enough, go for it.

Of course, if you just need basic info, AutoZone has rudimentary manuals online for many vehicles.  NOT an endorsement of AutoZone, or their website- but the free guides are a handy resource for the frugal do-it-yourself mechanic.

Add a whole huge disclaimer here: cars are dangerous, working on them is dangerous, be careful, don't get in over your head, and remember all the stuff on the other end of those links above is copyrighted/trademarked/DRMed, etc.

Happy busted knuckles-