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Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-23-2007, 06:40 PM   #1
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Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

I'm interested in learning more about how cars work. Eventually, I'd like to be able to troubleshoot/repair our cars for the most part. I'm an engineer, so I'm pretty familiar with all the theories and science behind what makes cars work (electricity/physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, etc).

Can anyone recommend a good book that will teach me about all the different parts of a car, how they interact with each other, things to look for when diagnosing car problems, the "why" behind all the recommended maintenance items, etc. Illustrations and examples would be great.

I've got our cars' chilton's manuals on reserve from the library for a little look-see (though I've heard mixed reviews about these books). I'm looking for something more general. Sort of like the Intelligent Investor, Four Pillars or Boglehead's Guide to investing if we're talking good one-stop investment books.

I remember my brother got a community college degree in "automotive technology" - I might like something like a community college textbook going over all the little details of a car, system by system, explaining how things work with examples and illustrations. Any ideas?
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-23-2007, 07:37 PM   #2
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

I typed in automotive theory at Amazon and saw a lot of potentially helpful books. I learned about cars by doing 'cause I couldn't afford to have it done - so I can't recommend any specific books.
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-23-2007, 10:47 PM   #3
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

Good place to start might be here:

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car.htm
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-24-2007, 08:06 AM   #4
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

One thing that I find helpful is that for over the last 10 years with the help of OBD scanners you can now easily find problem when your engine light comes on. This is also true for the ABS light. Unfortuanatly there's a price to pay for the scanners. If anything you can purchase the lower priced ones that only give you a code and then you can translate that code with the help of the internet. That has helped me diagnose many problems. Then the mechanics of it come into play when it's time to remove and replace the part in question.
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-24-2007, 08:21 AM   #5
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

Chilton!
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-24-2007, 09:46 AM   #6
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

I've concluded that newer cars just aren't designed for do-it-yourself repair. True?

Now, give me a 1965 VW Beetle...
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-24-2007, 10:10 AM   #7
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I've concluded that newer cars just aren't designed for do-it-yourself repair. True?
Not true for me. But I know what you mean.

My oldest 95 Maxima was running rough a few weeks ago, then the check engine light came on a few days after that. I checked the error code and it said "Cylinder 2 misfire".

I checked and verified that the coil pack was doing its jobs. I replaced that sparkplug ($3.00) although it still looked good. Resetted the computer. The problem did not go away, the engine was still rough, and the same error code came back a few days later.

I checked the injector, and sure enough it was bad. The resistance was 100 ohms, way too high compared to the neighboring injectors (12 ohms). Bought a whole set of 6 used injectors at a junk yard for $55. Replaced the injector and voila. Total cost $58, and I still have 5 good spare injectors on hand.
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-24-2007, 12:08 PM   #8
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

Justin, we do a lot of our own repairs, and we have found out that our best source of information is...the internet! The Chiltons manuals have limited ability to help diagnose problems, they just show you what and where things are.

Our current cars are Saturns, and there is a rabid SaturnFans forum that we search topics for troubleshooting purposes all the time. For instance, we figured out that the fuel pump needed to be replaced in one, and we found a topic where some guy had written out the entire process, with pictures and arrows showing exactly what to do in what order. This would not be found in the Chiltons.

Likewise, the Airstream Argosy motorhome has a forum we use to help diagnose problems. We have a manual from Airstream that is practically useless. Especially for older cars, the internet is a godsend for finding solutions to the dreaded "intermittent problem".

A good auto mechanics course would also be a great start, but getting to know a local small mechanic's shop, where you can learn with the guy, is also a possibility. We are tight with the counter guy at the Auto Supply store as well!

Sarah
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-24-2007, 12:16 PM   #9
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

As mentioned earlier, the internet is your best bet. I'm a member of 3 car forums, based on the 3 cars we have and I cannot thank the members of each forum enough for the many many times they have helped me diagnose as well as repair so many items. Some of the member live, breath and eat these forums up, answering up to 30 questions per day. I had sent a Carburetor to one member in the US to be rebuilt and I couldn't believe the care and attention he took in the rebuid. As well, the price was more than right.

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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"
Old 04-24-2007, 02:07 PM   #10
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Re: Recommend a good book on "how cars work"

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I've concluded that newer cars just aren't designed for do-it-yourself repair. True?
Not true.

Justin - Buy a service manual for your car and read it. You will be shocked at how easily most things can be fixed.

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