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If you’ve ever attempted to research a car problem using the Internet, then you already know that finding free information or tutorials is nearly impossible. The large majority of websites that market themselves as auto repair sites are nothing more than thinly cloaked sales sites for auto parts, ebooks and manuals or a question & answer service that will charge you a fee to receive an answer.
While they may be few and far between, there are actually some websites out there that offer truly free information that can help you with troubleshooting car problems that you may be having.
Reading a manual or tutorial on the Internet may not bring you up to speed on how to break out the ratchet set and start changing your own spark plugs if you’ve never even laid your hands on the oil dipstick. However, free informational portals and tutorials can train you on how to understand how your car operates and how to troubleshoot the more common problems that many people have, with the sort of repair solutions anyone can accomplish themselves. Many times, if you take your vehicle in for repair at a local auto repair shop, they’ll find a way to stick you with a ridiculous repair bill that you didn’t really need.
If you’d like to have a few truly free resources for troubleshooting your own minor car problems, then please review the following list and consider adding them all to your bookmarks under “auto repair.” The next time your engine doesn’t start, don’t immediately call the repair shop. Work through the step-by-step guides on these sites and you may surprise yourself when you’re able to figure out how to get the car started on your own.
Site #1 For Troubleshooting Car Problems – HowStuffWorks
HowStuffWorks, the site that Aibek reviewed in 2006, has evolved significantly and is leaps and bounds ahead of any other site when it comes to learning about your car’s various systems starting from the ground up. It obviously isn’t the equivalent of going to mechanics school, but the sheer volume of information available at HowStuffWorks is enough to teach you the basics of how your car engine works as well as all of the parts and systems of your car.
HowStuffWorks is a well known and well established website for information on a multitude of topics, but their specialized Auto section has so much more additional information than any other site, so clearly organized and presented, and so much more free from the overwhelming commercialism of most of the other sites that it definitely deserves the top spot on this list.
Each section provides very detailed information on how that particular car system works, including complete slideshows and even videos detailing those parts and systems. You’d be hard pressed to get this quality of information even in an introductory automotive textbook that you’d purchase.
Site #2 For Car Maintenance – Yahoo Autos
The “Maintain” tab ofis a valuable resource filled with information about car warranties and car manufacturers, but most importantly a large section on car repair tips and advice.
The tips and advice section of Yahoo Autos contains a comprehensive library of frequently asked questions and answers that span every single system of your car that you could imagine you might have a problem with.
Two things really impressed me about this section of Yahoo Autos. The first was the fact that other than typical ad banners, the site was not overrun with attempts to sell auto parts. The FAQ section really covers a great deal of information, and the answers to the questions are thorough and well written. The only drawback is that this site doesn’t have the sort of graphical content that HowStuffWorks has, like slideshows and videos.
Site #3 For Car Manuals and Repair Schematics – AutoZone
In deciding positions 2 and 3 for this writeup, it was a tossup between AutoZone and Yahoo. AutoZone is actually a better site and contains a great deal more valuable vehicle information for anyone who’s serious about DIY auto repairs. Unfortunately AutoZone is a U.S. based company, so worldwide readers may not find as much value in the site when it refers to specific parts from AutoZone stores. Given that one drawback, the repair section of AutoZone is not a sales site and doesn’t try to sell AutoZone parts.
When you register for free at the website, you have access to the entire vehicle repair section. This section includes an excellent area where you can step through troubleshooting your vehicle based on sounds, smells and more, and then drill down into the specific behavior characteristics, and the system attempts to offer you some possible causes.
In addition to this very useful resource, the free membership also grants you access to the valuable “Vehicle Repair Guides.” These are actual information guides of the quality you’d find if you ordered vehicle manuals online. These manuals are completely free of charge and include useful information like wiring schematics and specific information about the systems for your exact make and model.
When you’re trying to troubleshoot something like a car’s electrical system, there’s nothing quite as valuable to have as the actual electrical schematics for that exact vehicle.
Site #4 For Car Troubleshooting – 2CarPros
The final website I would recommend to anyone who is trying to learn how to maintain a vehicle, or how to troubleshoot car problems, is 2CarPros. Starting from the main page, the site itself doesn’t look like anything special. It’s a fairly regular looking web page with a menu and a series of articles.
The truly “special” content comes when you start clicking on the left menu items and drilling down into the articles and help guides. Each section is filled with a whole multitude of how-to guides and articles that feature high quality images, edited to point out the components and areas that you need to understand and focus on for the particular task at hand.
This is obviously quality content produced by a couple of folks who really know what they’re talking about. And as though the articles and pictures weren’t enough, they also produced and published their own how-to videos included in most of the articles.
These aren’t videos that were quickly pulled off YouTube like many other amateur auto repair sites do. These two car pros actually produced this video, branded at the bottom with their website, specifically for these articles – showing you step-by-step exactly how you can accomplish the task yourself.
Do you try troubleshooting your own vehicle? What are your favorite websites to research car problems? Share your insights in the comments section below.