Car repair

How to Access Chilton Auto Repair Manuals for Free Through Your Library

In 2020, Haynes said it was ceasing physical production of its signature car repair manuals. In January 2022, another well-known line of manuals, Chilton, went a step further and ended service of its equivalent online subscription-only DIY guide. Chilton’s wealth of automotive knowledge is still accessible, but you will now need to obtain it through your local or school library.

Chilton’s parent company has moved all of its repair information and how-to guides into the “Chilton Libraries” database, a product sold and marketed directly to public libraries. Haynes, Chiltonand another manual mark called Clymer (mainly covering motorsports and motorcycles) are currently all consolidated on the same website, as you will see in these links. Unfortunately, tech support, customer service, the blog and everything else associated with Chilton for Chilton consumers is apparently all dead. But the resource itself? Still so awesome.

Access to information can be quite tricky, The old Chilton website is full of broken links and dead ends. Fear not though, I’ve dug deep to find out how to access this huge resource of automotive DIY knowledge: Chilton has a tool that searches local libraries which provides access to the Chilton database, so start there.

Otherwise, if you’re trying to access Chilton’s step-by-step guides (or other credible, certified automotive information), try calling or visiting your local library. When was the last time you went there? If you’re still unlucky, there’s actually another thing you can try: contacting Chilton’s editor with this form ask questions about obtaining access. However, we recommend talking to real librarians before doing so.

These pocketbooks from Chilton were the cornerstone of my childhood in the Rust Belt. I fondly remember the days of my youth watching my father reinstall drum brakes on Ford Tempos or repair ignition modules on Cutlass Supremes. Back then, fixing an unfamiliar car involved a trip to AutoZone and paying $25 for a big, thick booklet on a shelf in front of the register that had a drawing of the car on the front. Then we would spend the weekends fumbling and digging through directions set out in a font too small for my terminally-ill-sighted father. Good time.

Well, that experience is now relegated to the past, alongside the Hitclip player my mother said I couldn’t, “because it was stupid”.

When I was a child, the Internet’s reputation as a handy encyclopedic information didn’t exist. The only way to get information on how to fix a car you owned would be a Chilton or Haynes manual. Sure, some insist that forums, YouTube, and message boards have effectively replaced the need for third-party repair manuals, but I’m not sure that’s true. In my experience, online repair advice can brush up against a repair board through an assortment of opinions that are sometimes downright wrong. I imagine that someone who is older and less experienced with the Internet could easily stumble upon bad advice. For the working poor who often rely on these domestic mechanics, it could be devastating.

As helpful as Facebook groups and YouTube tutorials can be, remember to absorb information from these unregulated sources with a bit of skepticism. You don’t have to get it right to rack up millions of likes on social media — but the print how-tos in manuals like Haynes or Chilton can be trusted pretty much universally.

So the next time you look into a project, take advantage of the existence and availability of these authoritative sources! They may be old, but they still kick. And best of all – a library card is free, which means so is this knowledge.

Fortunately, this trustworthy and reliable service is still active, and as long as you can get it at a library near you, it’s free.