These old, useful maintenance books

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Going thru my hoard of books, I came across one that I found in a Booksale outlet years ago. What makes this book special is that it shows you how to do basic repair work on your car. Although this book was published in 1974 and was a European edition for all carbureted, non-EFI (electronic fuel injection) cars, the illustrations were very helpful in describing the components of an automobile: from a simple tune-up to a basic engine rebuild; and from different carburetors (Stromberg, Weber, Solex) to different manufacturers (Bosch, Nippon Denso and Lucas). I value this book very much because of the information it contains. I got to appreciate this book even further when I would watch the “Wheeler Dealers” show on cable TV and see them work on old European cars.

The thing here is if you are considering to try your luck at fixing cars, it would be wise to have a hoard books for reference. Nothing beats a good reference material. Yes, hands-on time is also important but reading about it before you start taking it apart can save a ton of headaches. And yes, you will break things and make mistakes when taking stuff apart. But that’s part of the learning process. There where times I would do a simple tune up, removing the distributor to make changing the contact point and setting the point gap easier. But after everything, when I turn the key the car would not start. That would certainly ruin my Saturday night.

Another book that I consider one of my automotive bibles is another Booksale find. It’s titled “Automotive Electronics Fundamentals” authored by Frank Petruzella. This book has guided me in understanding basic principles of EFI in modern-day cars. The format of the book covers basics of DC electricity for beginners all the way to applications for EFI systems. The Bosch instructional books are also a good source of reference. If you chance upon a copy, I advise you to get it.

Having reference materials helps you when you are working on your daily driver or your current project. If I can’t figure out what’s wrong with my car, I always go back to the books and go through the basics. Chances are, I missed something so basic.


For those who are restoring vintage or classic cars, reference materials are a must to make sure that you do everything the correct way. Knowing what part or accessory is period correct for your project is important. Some would even research the correct color for a particular car not just by year, but also by chassis code. For those who are planning to go into car show competitions in the stock category, beware! Documentation is essential. There are judges who are very picky when it comes to the definition of stock or period correct.

Another bad habit of mine, besides collecting car repair manuals, is collecting parts catalogs. I prefer to buy a car part by reference number rather by describing the part. The part may look the same but the part numbers are different.

Others would argue, why not download from the Internet? Well yes, you could do that, but I would prefer to have the hard copy if possible. Don’t get me wrong… I have downloaded from the Internet service manuals before. It’s just me. May be it’s just me being old school. Whether you download it or you buy a book for reference, the bottom line is build up a library so you have something to run to when you run into a glitch.

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