Whether you’re a pro or a shade-tree mechanic, it’s important for every technician to keep up to date on technology and to constantly upgrade their skills. Beyond the model-specific Haynes or Mitchell books needed, here’s a good rundown of the 10 best books around for tech knowledge:
1. Modern Automotive Technology, Edition 8, James E. Duffy, $95.25
Updated in 2014, this comprehensive text is organized around ASE’s test areas and covers all areas of diagnosis and repair for late model vehicles. New updates include expanded sections on electrical systems and electronics, and sections on superchargers and turbochargers. Duffy uses a building-block approach to take readers from fundamental principles to advanced diagnostics and repair.
2. Ford Differentials: How to Rebuild the 8.8 and 9-inch, Joseph Palazzolo, $17.50
In production from 1957 through ’86, Ford’s 9-inch differential is one of the most robust ever made and can even be found on many non-Ford vehicles (as it’s a favorite of hot rodders). The 8.8” unit is common to many Mustangs and later model Fords, and Palazzolo’s book gives detailed, photo-rich instructions on teardown and rebuild of these units.
3. Engine Management: Advanced Tuning (Performance How-To Series), Greg Banish, $20.12
Tuning engines for more performance is a whole different world with today’s engine management systems, and Banish’s book takes the mystery out of EFI systems and engine controls.
4. The Engine Builder's Handbook: A Complete Guide to Professional Blueprinting and Assembly Techniques, Tom Monroe, $16.86
Monroe’s book is the bible for teardown/rebuild of engines for hotrods, powerboats, classics or daily drivers.
5. Popular Mechanics Complete Car Care Manual, $13.76
While it’s aimed at giving the shade-tree mechanic the skills to perform repair and maintenance tasks on their vehicles, Popular Mechanics’ book is useful for any skill level.
6. David Vizard's How to Port & Flow Test Cylinder Heads, $19.44
Porting and relieving cylinder heads for enhanced flow is a real art, and few other engine builders have more know-how than David Vizard. Vizard’s book covers porting stock and aftermarket heads, in aluminum or cast-iron construction. Vizard delves into manual and CNC porting as well as optimizing flow paths through the heads, past the valves and into combustion chambers.
7. Performance Automotive Engine Math, John Baechtel, $19.45
Squeezing more RPM and more horsepower out of an engine requires a good knowledge of engineering mathematics, and Baechtel’s book discusses how these equations are reached, as well as how to translate them into real-world mechanics. While designing the many moving parts of an engine so they can work together is no small task, Baechtel effectively lays out the theory and process for professional builders.
8. TechOne: Automotive Heating and Air Conditioning / Edition 1, Carrigan and Eichelberger, $95.25
Modern air conditioning, heating, and climate control systems are more advanced than ever, as a result of recent environmental regulations, consumer preferences, and technology. TechOne: Automotive Heating and Air Conditioning uses a performance-based approach to understanding, diagnosing, and repairing modern HVAC systems, and is great prep material for the ASE Heating and Air Conditioning A7 Certification Exam.
9. How To Use Automotive Diagnostic Scanners, Tracy Martin, $22.10
Demystify the “check engine” light by understanding how engine management and diagnostics work. Today’s vehicles can interact not only with handheld scanners, but also with phones and laptops…which can even be used as dynamometers and data acquisition systems. Martin explains OBD-I and OBD-II systems, modern CAN networks, and the design and roles of sensors in engine management.
10. GM LS-Series Engines: The Complete Swap Manual, Joseph Potak, $19.41
LSX engine debuted in the ’97 Corvette, and the LSX family of engines has proven to be reliable, strong-running, and surprisingly fuel-efficient. As a result, the LSX engines are a favorite for engine swaps, thanks to its light weight, compact size, and ease of modification. This book gives you the resources you need to fabricate engine mounts, wiring setups, fuel systems, driveline customization, and other considerations needed to drop an LSX engine into your GM muscle car.
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