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Old 20th February 2015, 15:54   #1
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Default 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

I know its very naive to write a small article on an owner's manual as most of the car owners know its importance. But I am just penning it down for those who are not aware of its importance. I have seen many questions asked even on Team-BHP, whose answers can be easily found in the car's owners manual. When we buy a mobile phone or any other electronic gadget, we read the manual to know how to operate it, but regarding cars, as many people know how to drive, they do not bother to go through it.

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It's not just another paper or brochure we get while buying the car. Let me list a few points where it can come in handy.

1) Understanding your car better:
A vehicle is composed of thousands of components. It's not possible for us to know each and every component. But knowing a few important ones can make life easier. At least we can know a few basics like what PSI the tyres need, which grade engine oil we should use and what's the oil capacity, what's the brake oil used in the car (like Dot 3/Dot 4), the amount of coolant the car requires or maintaining the idling rule in cars having a turbo and many other such things.

Now depending on your curiosity, you can go into further details. I have read my car's owner's manual nicely and I do feel it helped me learn a lot about my car. Yes, I know we don't need to know things as service center guys take care of everything. But should we blindly trust them? At least I feel that I should know the basics of my car.

2) Safety tips for driving:
We go through the internet for safe driving tips. But, look at the owner's manual, it does have a few pages, which very well explains how to drive safe. I have found it in almost all the manuals that I have gone through. If one follows it, I am sure he won't be a loser!

3) Service center guys take you for a ride:
It's very common that service center guys ask for de-carbonizing the engine, cleaning the throttle body, cleaning the brake assemble or disinfecting the A/C blower! Here, in Team-BHP, we have seen service center guys taking customers for a ride many a time and charging a hefty amount. Just read the manual and see what are the parts that need to be replaced and what are just to be inspected. At the service center, if the service executive says anything more, one can simply deny and save his money! I have saved money a few times at Maruti service centers in Bangalore.

4) Car stops in the middle of the road:
If the car stops in the middle of the road, it may be due to a very simple or basic reason. It's not a must that something has to be grossly wrong! If the battery terminals get lose or there are sulphur deposits on the terminal, it can leave your car stranded. If you can identify the problem and you have the owner's manual in your car, even a simple DIY can take you out of the situation and if you fail, you will get the phone number of the nearest service center for your car.

Even a blown up fuse can be cumbersome at times! Yes, with a blown fuse, a car can be stranded. But, if you know how to change it or where the fuse box is located, you can do it yourself. In cars like the Etios/Liva, the fuse box is located in a tricky position, like behind the meter box console. So, many can't locate the exact place. But, from the manual, it's just a 2 minutes read to locate the spot! Almost every car comes with a few extra fuses in the fuse box for emergency use. So, from the manual, one can make out where they are put and which are the extra fuses.

5) Need to do a small DIY like cleaning/changing the airfilter/spark plug or some other components:
Recently, we went on a trip to the Himalayas, where the conditions were very dusty. One of the cars in our group started to lose power because of a choked up air filter. For that car opening the air filter box was tricky, so the owner couldn't open it himself and clean it. He had to drive like that for 70-80 kms and get it done in a local garage. After the trip, i just took the owners manual from him and found out that how to open and clean the air filter was beautifully instructed! So, simple DIYs like cleaning the A/C filter, air filter, disinfecting the A/C and few others can be simply done at home!

6) Need to maintain a service record for your car:
We can maintain the service history of our cars by entering it in the manual and getting it stamped with the date and odo reading. Many a time, we lose bills. So, a stamped manual can be a proof of the service history of the car. It can add to the resale value too.

7) Before going ahead with any modifications, one should check what's best suited for your car. So accordingly you can plan your steps & go ahead:
For example, if the car has 55/60 stock head lamp bulbs and the fuse used is a 15 amp, what changes or relay is required to upgrade them to 90/100. Many a time, after fitting a powerful horn in place of the stock unit, we see people ending up to a blown fuse. Wrong installation can damage or burn the wiring. Wrongly modifying the engine to increase power can definitely shorten its life too.

8) When you give your car to a FNG (friendly neighborhood garage):
A garage guy repair cars of every brand. So for changing some fluid, he might not know about company-specified fluids or other components used in your car. It's best to guide him with the help of the manual by telling him what you exactly need.

9) For new 4X4 owners:
An experienced 4x4 owner will definitely be a technically sound person. But, if a person like me buys a 4x4, to understand the whole mechanism of the system and how it works, there can't be a better place than the company-provided manual for that particular vehicle.

10) Always keep the manual in your car:
From the above points it's obvious that in case of an emergency, if the manual is kept at home it will be of no use!

Am not a very technically sound person. So for people like me, it helps a lot. I have just jotted down the above points from my personal experiences. Anybody sharing more valid usage or if am wrong in any of the above points, correcting me will be most welcome.

Last edited by Aditya : 21st February 2015 at 19:03. Reason: Making formatting consistent...
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Old 20th February 2015, 18:16   #2
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th February 2015, 21:15   #3
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Arrow re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

I used to be an owner's manual nerd but now they've become just too voluminous so I just can't be bothered reading the entire thing end-to-end.

I just use it as a reference guide in case I need to look up something.

Also, some MFRs now have a backup of the manual stored on their iDrives & COMMAND systems for a quick look-up.
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Old 20th February 2015, 21:57   #4
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My Jaguar XJR came with about 3 inches of owner documentation. All in a leather folder. Car manual, separate manual for the audio and the navigation system, separate volume on maintenance. Quick guide and a few other bits. Next to that Jaguar produced several DVDs for owners on how to use their cars! When I bought the car in 2009 from Ebay, the then owner had all the original owners manuals in its original folder. I found the owner DVD on Ebay as well.

I had to fly from Kansas City where we were living at the time to Charlotte in North Carolina where I picked it up from the owner. I drove it back to Kansas City in a couple of days. Once we had sorted the final paper work, they handed me the keys and I set off, only to stop at the first cafe where I spend at least two hours going through all the manuals before pressing on. Told you I'm a bit nerdy!
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Old 20th February 2015, 22:16   #5
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

This one ought to have the title changed to 10 Reasons Why You Should Read Your Car's Owner's Manual - the present title doesn't catch the reader's attention as quickly as it should!!

Not reading the owner's manual thoroughly can even lead to things like
- not knowing you have a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel;
- not knowing your seat is height adjustable;
- not knowing what that funny red / orange light on the dashboard is, that stays on all the time;
- not knowing where the jack and handle are stowed when you have a flat tyre at midnight in the middle of nowhere.

This thread deserves 5 stars, and I've put in mine.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 20th February 2015 at 22:17.
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Old 20th February 2015, 23:35   #6
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Not reading the owner's manual thoroughly can even lead to things like
- not knowing you have a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel;
- not knowing your seat is height adjustable;
I learned, from my manual at that first stop, my chair, outside mirrors and rake and height adjustable steering wheel get adjusted automatically. Per remote key set, you can program all of this individually. So if my wife opens the door with her remote everything gets adjusted for her, when I open the car with my the car gets set up for me.

Even better yet, when you open the door, the steering wheel will be fully retracted and max height so you can into your chair easily. When you put the key in the ignition, the wheel adjust to the individual settings.

I had three sets of keys/remotes and none were programmed to do so. so the former owner did not know or could not be bothered. I think he never knew, because it is so convenient and it is so very cool to get into your car with all this stuff moving smoothly and little electric motors whizzing!

Also, there is a special setting if you reverse the rearview windows dips so you can keep track of the curb.

Auto dim inside rear view mirror needs setting.

All in the manual(s)

Etc. etc. etc.

Jeroen
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Old 21st February 2015, 01:10   #7
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

I remember reading every word of our first car's (M800) manual. I guess that was out of sheer novelty of owning a car and also in part because, things were simple then.

I read a little more of the Corsa (the first car that was more mine than my parents').

But since then, about 3 cars later, I haven't touched any manual until its time for a service and I need to be sure of what work needs to be done.

This thread should help change that!

I have always had one grouse with manuals though: Manufacturers need to have separate manuals for the different variants and if the same car sells in different markets. Eg. Both the City (also sold in Thailand) and the Corsa (in Europe) had features listed that weren't offered in India. And as a owner of City SMT, I don't want to know how cool the sunroof is. Not cool. Of course, it would cost more to carry separate manuals though.
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Old 21st February 2015, 10:58   #8
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

I am also one of those few people who read the user manual for any appliance / gadget / vehicle that I purchase.

I do agree with libranof1987 that the user manual has a lot of description of features which may not be available on the specific variant. Also, the content needs to be clearly separated in individual sections like - mechanical aspects, user controls, in car entertainment, comfort features, safety features, service schedule, driving tips, fault debugging etc.

While the OP suggests keeping the user manual in the car at all times, I have an alternate suggestion. Nowadays all user manuals are available in pdf format, it would be much more convenient to keep a soft copy of the user manual in your smart phone.

Rohan
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Old 21st February 2015, 11:09   #9
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

I have always read the user manual of all stuff I have ever purchased in my life, given that they came with one. There are a lot of subtle things that you may not otherwise come to know if you don't go through each and every word of the manual. You can well imagine my level of patience when I tell you that I went through each and every page of the instruction manual that came with the Civic before getting into the driver's seat!
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Old 21st February 2015, 12:44   #10
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

Like others have said, there used to be a conscious effort among car owner club in the past to read the manual. Infact we have retained (with permission from the next owner) the manuals of most cars we were associated with as a souvenir/memento of its presence in our lives at one point.

Attached is one such of a nice Peugeot 504.

10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual-946671_10151594872631838_2026569268_n.jpg

However, in contrast, my Mahindra Scorpio 4WD manual, the one that should have come to me before I received the car, owing to a sequence of procedures to be followed in switching between modes of the B&W 4WD system, did not come to me, before the smart card was issued.

As a result, although I had found out the procedure from others, I had to wait till I get hold of the actual manual of the very own vehicle (should there be some delta changes). The dealership couldn't even get me one from an alternate vehicle on loan.

Another aspect during these times, especially with ownership of the premium segment cars, their manuals are too deep, too thick, too descriptive, and the pricepoints these cars sell at, the owners have to be very ultra busy chaps in their professional space, in order to own them. Besides, in most cases, these cars are chauffeur driven and if they could find themselves reading literature, they would have probably taken a different profession altogether.

In some cases the owners of these premium cars are not too busy, but in that case, their demographic is completely different, probably devoid of reading and comprehension skills.

So majority of these cars are driven without even paying attention to the finer details mentioned in the manual. Similarly, outside of the workshops, none of the probable support persona, can or will bother to read a "Haynes manual" for the car before ripping it apart.

All in all, a sad story. No one wants to read and am sorry if this post was too long!!





Quote:
Originally Posted by rohan_iitr View Post
I have an alternate suggestion. Nowadays all user manuals are available in pdf format, it would be much more convenient to keep a soft copy of the user manual in your smart phone.

Rohan
Rather than a PDF which will require searching, a mobile app would be friendly.

My advice is, just a one pager "Getting started" and another "Don'ts and Do's" (In that order).
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Old 21st February 2015, 12:47   #11
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

Useful topic -- thanks Samba. It does contain lot of useful information. At times I have seen Service Centre guys not following User Manual -- presumably for their own benefit. It is obviously wise to have it in the vehicle -- in emergency situation it does come handy.
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Old 21st February 2015, 13:00   #12
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Rated five stars.

I can vaguely remember, my first car, the maruti Zen. Read and (almost) learnt by heart each and every nuance of the car. The habit of getting into and through the manual started with the first music system that we got home when I was a kid. It was a treasure trove for the system.

That day on, its been a habit to go through the manual of each and every thing that is brought home, be it a microwave, a phone, a car a geyser, a fridge or a home theatre.

But sadly, people around do not think our way, more so I am seen as an insane person with irrelevant information.
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Old 21st February 2015, 13:29   #13
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

In fact, I am so much into the manuals that sub consciously, I tend to rate the quality of the product on the basis of how good & in-depth the manual is. Even accounting the language used - literally!
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Old 21st February 2015, 14:07   #14
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Default re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

There is always an additional manual "the service manual" which, although not easily available, is a good to have thing. This has details of the various parts/ components, their part codes in case you wish to order, and general assembly instructions and blow ups.
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Old 21st February 2015, 15:44   #15
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Default Re: 10 reasons why you should read your car's owners manual

Most people don't bother with owner's manuals and I'm one of them. Only use it in a need-based style (lube capacities, recommended maintenance chart, a feature I don't understand etc.).

The problem is that owner's manuals / car manufacturers haven't kept up with the times. Putting my usability hat on:

- Why don't all cars have their owner's manuals online in an easy-to-search interactive format. No, I'm not talking about a PDF download (which is cumbersome when accessing from your smartphone, for instance). I'm talking about a well-designed website that has a clean, organised layout and is mobile-friendly.

- One of my cars had a 500 page owner's manual. In small print! You must be kidding if you expect me to read that, especially in the current era where we're hard-pressed for time. Ideally, each owner's manual must be split up into 3 sections:

1. The absolutely must-know important stuff - 10 to 20 pages (tops).

2. The nice-to-know stuff (hidden features, hard-press to roll up all windows automatically etc.).

3. The regular (current) owner's manual data.

Of course, we shouldn't overlook the importance of making a car user-friendly & easy to understand (they're not rocket science anymore). Some manufacturers get it, some don't. In some premium cars loaded with features, the buttons & controls were so easy to understand that we never needed to refer to the owner's manual. However, for the Fortuner's new voice command system, we actually had to contact Toyota to figure out how to use it! Compare that to the EcoSport's advanced voice command system that was so easy to set up & use.
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