Monday, May 7, 2012

Auto Repair Reference Center: Keeping Your Wheels on the Road

Are you a do-it-yourself mechanic?  Or are you mystified by a car's innards, but want to learn what's what under the hood?  Either way, we have a database you may want to check out.  Auto Repair Reference Center is a great first stop when you're trying to figure how your car works. This database has information on over 37,000 different vehicles, going all the way back to 1945.

To get to Auto Repair Reference Center (ARRC), go the the library's website at and click on Research. You can find ARRC in Databases by Name under "A", or in Databases by Subject under "Auto Repair".  If you're away from the library, you'll need to enter your library card number.  Once you're into Auto Repair Reference Center, you'll see a homepage that looks like this:

If you look at the options along the top navigation bar, you'll see Vehicle Search, Auto IQ, Care & Repair Tips, Troubleshooting, and Help.  The first page you see is the Vehicle Search page, which is where you can look up detailed repair information for your particular vehicle.  We'll come back to this page.  First, let's look at the next three options, which are all great for people who just want to learn more about how cars and trucks work.

The Auto IQ section offers a series of videos about how various parts of a car work.  For example, if you're like me, and barely know what a thermostat is, you could watch the video on thermostats below.

If you would rather read than watch videos, Care & Repair Tips offers basic introductions to the various parts of a car, and how they work together.  The Troubleshooting section, as the name suggests, helps you diagnose problems with your car.  You can browse problems by topic, but if you're not sure about the topic, you can use the search box to look up particular keywords, such as "rattle" or "smoke".

If you want to find detailed repair information on your particular car or truck, click on Vehicle Search.  Let's say you have a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup.  Simply enter the year, the make, and the model, as shown below, and then select the specifications for your vehicle (V8, V6, etc).

This brings up all the information for this particular vehicle.

Here you can find repair instructions, as well as wiring diagrams, recalls, and diagnostic information.  There is also a labor times estimator.  This is useful for professional mechanics, as well as people who want to check to see if a mechanic's time estimate is reasonable.  If you want to read about fixing your own car, click on Repair Info, and then choose the topic (brakes, drivetrain, etc).  Here you can find detailed instructions, complete with illustrations (see below).  You can print these instructions as PDF files, or even email them to someone else.

Whether you're an experienced mechanic or an amateur wondering what a timing belt does, Auto Repair Reference Center is a great place to find answers to your car questions!