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How to Find a Manual for a Used Car

A woman in front of her car, reading the owner’s manual

Owner’s manuals don’t always seem important, but as soon as a warning light is illuminated, or you need to know what kind of oil to put in your vehicle, they become critical accessories. Owner’s manuals provide drivers with lots of basic knowledge and safety information that can give you peace of mind when operating your vehicle, and critical help if you find your car broken down on the side of the road.

Unfortunately, if you have purchased a used car, there’s a chance that it didn’t come with the owner’s manual. If the previous owner lost the manual, then you’ll be stuck without one. Thankfully, there’s no reason to worry. There are many different ways to find a manual for your used car, so that you never have to be without the knowledge and security that a manual affords you.

Method 1 of 3: Find an online manual

Image: vehiclehistory.com

Step 1: Check online manual databases. Virtually every car manual can be found online. There are many websites, such as Vehicle History and Owner’s Manuals for Cars that offer free PDF versions of owner’s manuals. Between these two sites and Google, you should be able to find an online version of the manual you’re looking for.

Owner manual page
Image: Ford

Step 2: Visit manufacturer websites. Many manufacturer websites also offer free online owner’s manuals, though you may have to log in or enter your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) in order to access the manuals.

The only downside about online manuals is that they’re, well, online. Unlike a traditional owner’s manual, you can’t put an online manual in your glove compartment, so it’s less helpful when you find yourself having an urgent vehicle question while you’re on the road.

However, online manuals are perfect for answering vehicle questions when you’re at home, and you can always print them and put them in the glove compartment if you wish.

Method 2 of 3: Request a manual from the manufacturer

Step 1: Contact a dealership. If you want a physical copy of the owner’s manual for your used car, the best thing to do is contact the manufacturer and request one. Most automakers are more than happy to provide you with an owner’s manual, though you may have to pay a small amount to get one.

Start by contacting your local dealership and asking if they have any owner’s manuals available. If your used car is still fairly new, then the dealership may have some manuals in stock. If the vehicle is a little older, the dealership will likely have to order a manual.

Step 2: Contact the manufacturer. If you don’t have any luck calling the dealership, then try contacting a customer service representative for the manufacturer, and ask them if they can send you a copy of the owner’s manual.

Method 3 of 3: Order a physical copy online

Sample website that sells physical copies of owner’s manuals
Image: Book4Cars.com

Step 1: Search owner’s manual websites. If your local dealership is unable to provide you with a copy of the owner’s manual, then chances are you have a rare or older vehicle. That makes it harder to find an owner’s manual, but it’s not impossible.

If this is the case, the best solution is to see if you can find a copy for sale online. Some websites, such as Books 4 Cars, have a large inventory of owner’s manuals for sale at fair prices.

eBay owner
Image: eBay

It’s also common to find owner’s manuals (for both modern and older vehicles) for sale on eBay and other online marketplaces. If you’re unable to find the owner’s manual for your vehicle online, keep checking periodically, as one may appear for sale in the future.

Owner’s manuals are important things to have, so you should always try to have a copy in your glove compartment, or at least have an online version bookmarked on your computer. Even though owner’s manuals can help you diagnose problems with your car, it’s always a good idea to have professionals handle vehicle inspections. If you ever don’t feel comfortable working on your car, put down the manual and give a reputable technician, such as the ones at YourMechanic, a call.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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