How to Find a Manual for a Used Car | YourMechanic Advice

How to Find a Manual for a Used Car

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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.


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Honorio

18 years of experience
808 reviews
Honorio
18 years of experience
Acura RDX - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Palo Alto, California
Honorio went above and beyond my expectations. He was honest about which repairs needed to be done even though my service revision decreased his income. Will absolutely use again!!!! Thank you!
Volvo XC90 - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Mountain View, California
Arrives ahead of time. Explain things to me clearly, and recommended me to remove unnecessary service.

Collins

11 years of experience
182 reviews
Collins
11 years of experience
BMW 330xi - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Atlanta, Georgia
It was a good appointment. Collins came over and inspected my car but unfortunately was not able to install the driver's side axle. After his inspection, he told me that I needed a hub bearing assembly on that side and that my axel was in pretty good shape. He did not have the equipment pull the hub bearing for installation but he was very knowledgeable s we discussed that process. His inspection also revealed that my car was in need of a passenger's side CV axle assembly. I was only charged for his inspection fee and we agreed that I would call at a later time for the actual work to be done. This will have to take place after I have wheel bearing hub assemblies installed. I was informed that the company would credit my account for any unused fees that I paid.

Robert

21 years of experience
33 reviews
Robert
21 years of experience
Dodge Durango - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Fort Worth, Texas
Robert showed up ontime. He was very friendly, knowledgeable. I look forward to him completing my future repair.

Attila

18 years of experience
573 reviews
Attila
18 years of experience
BMW 328i xDrive - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Paterson, New Jersey
This guy is awesome, knew exactly what he was doing, im glad theres a mechanic like him on the website who i can count on for future work.

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