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What the Manual Says

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I had a lot of fun reading through the 1919 Ford Manual “For Owners and Operators of Ford Cars and Trucks.” It was shared by one of the experts cited in this month’s feature story.

I’m the type who likes to sit down and read the owner’s manual for things I own. That’s how I found out about the valet key function on my Buick Lesabre or where to check fuses when a tail light goes out.

In that 1919 Ford manual, there are some familiar passages for readers of today’s owner’s manuals. It includes an admonishment to use only genuine Ford parts and to avoid “bogus” or “imitation” parts. What follows those introductions are 136 questions and answers, complete with diagrams, about everything from starting the engine to cleaning the cylinders. It was a true manual for the self-directed ownership of the 1919 Ford car or truck.

Thankfully for today’s consumer, there’s easier access to automotive maintenance shops in all but the most remote stretches of the country. And owner’s manuals have reflected that societal change over the past 100 years. Knowing that the typical driver is more likely to head to a service shop when car trouble strikes, the information found in owner’s manuals turned more toward simple maintenance.

Today, the most modern of manuals will teach you more about using the infotainment system than servicing any mechanical part.

That change is at the heart of this month’s feature story. What I found is that, yes, today’s owner’s manuals aren’t as detailed as they used to be when it comes to home maintenance. But that’s not the whole story. The changes also reflect how OEMs share information with everybody, whether it’s the typical vehicle owner or the independent service shop.

Take a look at the manual for your vehicle and decide how complete that maintenance information is based on your professional knowledge.

This month’s issue has a lot of character, and that’s due to Ken Frenchak. His profile reflects the enthusiasm he has for his region, his family history, and the work that he does. 

You’ll also find articles about combating low car counts, which is handy advice every so often. There is also an explanation of stay interviews, a valuable retention tool that I didn’t know about before our writer tackled the topic.

I hope all you readers are seeing that spring boost as the weather warms and drivers start thinking more about their vehicle maintenance (a good use of tax refunds!). Until next month, take care.


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