About the Books and Manuals We Sell...

Info About The Books and Manuals We Sell

What's the Difference Between a Repair Manual vs. a Service Manual?

In a nutshell, none. Although at one point repair and service manuals, by definition, were somewhat different (e.g. a repair manual provided actual repair information, whereas a service manual provided basic maintenance and service details), nowadays the differences have disappeared and the information presented is one and the same. So, whether you call it a repair manual, a service guide, or a shop manual, they all provide repair, maintenance, and service details.

One caveat worth noting is that although the word "repair" stands for fixing something, do not expect a manual to tell you how to repair every system per se. In this day and age of remanufactured parts it makes more sense time- and money-wise to simply exchange or buy new parts instead of repairing them.

A Repair Manual by Any Other Name...

I think we've pretty much heard all possible variations on ways to describe a repair manual, which is the name of choice here at The Motor Bookstore, although we also call them just "manuals," for short. Anyway, here's the list we've compiled just in case you want to make sure we're talking about the same thing.
  • Service manual
  • Workshop manual
  • Shop manual
  • Maintenance manual
  • Owner's manual (see below)
Note: we've also seen the word "manual" misspelled as "Manuel," which really is a Spanish name. Gracias.

What's an "Owner's" Manual?

An owner's manual is the booklet that comes with new vehicles, usually found in the glovebox.

An owner's manual contains instructions on how to operate vehicle accessories, tire information, recommended maintenance intervals, types of lubricants required, a dealer directory, etc. But that's it. An owner's manual will not provide information on how to service or fix your vehicle, perform an oil change, tune-up, or anything of the sort. For that kind of info you will need a repair manual.

What's the Difference Between a DIY Manual Vs. a Professional Manual?

A DIY (Do-It-Yourself) manual is written with the consumer in mind, and therefore publishers make every effort to present the information in an easy-to-understand format with lots of actual photos and illustrations depicting step-by-step procedures.

On the other hand a professional repair manual is written with the technician or mechanic in mind. This means that a certain degree of mechanical knowledge is assumed and, therefore, instructions may not be as clear to the weekend do-it-yourselfer. Additionally, professional manuals usually cover a wide range of makes and models which makes them big (sometimes into the thousands of pages) and, consequently, more expensive.

Are There Any Differences Between Aftermarket and Factory Manuals?

Factory manuals are written by the company that manufactured the vehicle. Aftermarket manuals are not. Although some factory manuals are intended for the DIY mechanic, the great majority are written with the service technician in mind. This means that — as with professional manuals — a certain degree of knowledge and familiarity with the brand is assumed and expected, and it is not uncommon for a factory manual to call for a specific tool by manufacturer part number, for example.

Technicalities notwithstanding, sometimes a factory manual is the only publication available since not all makes and models are covered by aftermarket repair manuals.

What Does Binding Mean?

Binding is the process used to secure the pages or sections of a book to keep them in the intended order as well as to protect them.

Types of Book Bindings:

  • Paperback: a book with a paper cover. Also referred to as trade paperback or softcover.

  • Hardcover: a book with stiff covers (usually cardboard or paperboard) that is bound and covered in either cloth, paper, or leather.

  • Spiralbound: an inexpensive type of binding that uses wire or plastic coils as the spine. Also referred to as comb- or coil-bound.

  • Loose-leaf: a method for securing individual sheets of paper in an exchangeable form. Also referred to as ring-bound or binder.

  • Stapled: a binding method that uses metal staples to secure the pages, typically used for binding magazines and smaller books or pamphlets. Also referred to as saddle-stitched.