Your Owner’s Manual and You: A Crash Course

Your owner’s manual is perhaps the most in-depth, complex, thorough piece of reading material you own. It has everything from basic specs to complex diagrams and everything in-between. That being said, the book isn’t something you should feel intimidated by, and with a few pieces of knowledge at your side, you’ll be flipping through it like a pro in no time.

One of the best things that your owner’s manual provides is a service guide. Whenever you hear us pros talking about “factory recommended maintenance” or going “by the book” this is usually what we mean. If you’re coming up on a key mileage, like 100,000 miles, and you’re wondering what exactly you’ll need when you hit it, the book will tell you down to the labor involved.

Another nice thing that can be found in your owner’s manual is some basic part numbers. Things like what light bulbs you need, what fuses your car uses and what they act as fail-safes for, and some other minor do-it-yourself type parts.

One thing that I think is more crucial than ever these days is spare tire information. Spares are not one-size-fits-all tires as they used to be. As space gets tighter and tighter, automakers have found unique ways of stuffing these things away, if they’re even equipped at all, and they can be hard to find sometimes. Also useful, the manual tells you how to install a spare, so even those of us who aren’t mechanically-inclined can easily swap them on and off.

One of my favorite features of an owner’s manual is the inclusion of some basic part numbers. Take for example light bulbs. Light bulbs may seem like a simple, one-size-fits-all type thing, but oftentimes your car may take five or six different kinds of bulbs in different places. The owner’s manual will gladly take all of the guesswork out of it for you by telling you what kind of bulbs you need for your headlights, taillights, turn signals, reverse lights, interior lights, and so on. It doesn’t just stop at bulbs, however. The kinds of replacement fuse you need, filter numbers, and even the kind of battery your key uses can all be listed in an owner’s manual. Handy, right?

Lastly, an owner’s manual has great information on safe driving habits for your car. This isn’t just about keeping both hands on the wheel or anything like that, but rather things like proper weight distribution in the cabin, proper towing habits, if towing is applicable to your vehicle, proper use of a four-wheel or all-wheel-drive system, again, if applicable, and proper use of your headlights.

There you go! Now you’re an owner-manual pro. If you have any questions about our articles, your car, our company, or just general automotive questions, feel free to call us at 704-545-4597, email us at, check us out on Facebook at, or check out our website at

Ken Manchester