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Haynes vs. Chilton Repair Manuals

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Is one better than the other? If yes, which one? Since there are a few little areas that require some attention, I figured having a repair manual will be very helpful. I know at least the Haynes book is available at my local Advance Auto and Auto Zone parts stores, not sure about the Chilton. The wife needs some gift suggestions and I think this would be a great gift. Your thoughts/advise/input is appreciated, as always!

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I can't vouch for the quality of the Haynes books, but the Chilton books were excellent back in the 1990s (when I worked there). The later books (with five-digit part numbers) are written mostly by freelancers (many of which worked there when I did)...some good, some not so good.

I agree with Oldsmoboi, if you want a good book splurge for the real thing.

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The Chilton manuals were better back, pre-1985... most of what I've had since is Haynes, and I'm happy with it. Haynes books are written by documenting a complete tear down and rebuild of the car. The newer Chilton manuals are just not as good with photos or descriptions... but IMHO, if Haynes got a A-, Chilton gets about a B... so either way will work for what you need.

OTOH, I would not recommend getting the FSM unless you are planning on fixing EVERYTHING that could possibly break. Unfortunately, once you get into wiring diagrams, connections, data codes... it all has a VERY high learning curve and the simple stuff you need is drowned out by way too much information. For example, the FSM will put 15 pages in discussing the M15 flavor of the 4T65, then will put in 15 pages discussing the MN3 version... and both sets of pages will be identical... because, externally, they ARE identical. Also, I find that the GM FSMs expect you to take more of the car apart when you do many jobs step-by-step.

For example, the H-body FSM does not take into account that the half the H-body subframe can be removed to remove the transmission... the FSM expected me to drop the entire subframe. Haynes did the job by splitting the subframe and allowed one to leave several large parts on the car... PS pump, Starter and didn't require moving the steering rack.

Plus FSMs are outrageously expensive until your car gets to be 10+ years old.

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Haynes are British...seen a few for American cars that show the car w/ UK number plates.. never bought one of these manuals as I don't do much work myself, but I did get the shop manual DVD for my Jeep when I had my seat replacement debacle in '09...

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 year later...

I have a shop manual DVD for the Jeep and it's been very useful on multiple occasions. Has nice exploded diagrams on how everything goes together w/ directions.

Are they static images or can you manipulate them to see the parts in different ways?

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I have a shop manual DVD for the Jeep and it's been very useful on multiple occasions. Has nice exploded diagrams on how everything goes together w/ directions.

Are they static images or can you manipulate them to see the parts in different ways?

Static.. I suspect it's a print manual that's been digitized..like a PDF. I used it to change out my seat back in '09, to charge my A/C..going to use it to replace the door window/lock switch soon.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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About the same. Chiltons are still hard to find. Haynes are still easier to get.

I've seen that Haynes are not keeping up with the times... i.e., more tech in cars and the latest Haynes seem to be missing details on where to fix things like relays and resistors. No mention of where to find a horn relay in a Sunfire. No details to find blower resistor or relays in a Tahoe.

Annoying. I find more info on Youtube than Haynes anymore... but I still buy one for each car, just in case.

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So I have gone back and forth as my Chilton manual for my 94 GMC Suburban is excellent but the Haynes was not and as such I have the following library.

1994 GMC Suburban - Chilton

1998 Dodge Dakota - Haynes

1999 Dodge Durango - Both, was out on a trip and had a break down and so bought what was available. Both have good points and bad points but now I can cover it all.

2004 SRX - FSM

2005 CTS - FSM

2006 H2 - FSM

2006 Escalade - Nothing yet

2008 Trailblaser SS AWD - Nothing yet.

I am going to review the DVD's as I like the ability to search things better than the book form, I will then decide if I go FSM or 3rd party DVD.

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  • 4 years later...
Guest Hawk 6483

I'm about to but a manual for my wife's 97 miata and i can't decide which to get. Don't even bring up fsm's I've had to use them before when i worked at a GM dealer and it all becomes white noise after a while with the unnecessary crap they add in and piss poor organization. I haven't used Haynes or Chilton in a long while but i remember one having good exploded parts diagrams and descriptions, easy to find torque tables ect but $h!ty wiring diagrams and the otherbeing kinda crap but with excellent wiring and vacuum diagrams. Which was which?

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