Gonzo's Toolbox: Lost In The Owner's Manual
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Gonzo’s Toolbox: Lost In The Owner’s Manual

Hardly a day goes by when I’m not changing oil in a car. It’s a simple task to perform, but, today, you must also reset the oil reminder system. The procedure varies from model to model and year to year. Sometimes, I figure that since I’m right there by the car, I might as well find the owner’s manual and look up the procedure myself. But, for some reason, not one manufacturer can come up with a method of putting the information in one convenient spot.

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Hardly a day goes by when I’m not changing oil in a car. It’s a simple task to perform, but, today, you must also reset the oil reminder system.
 
The procedure varies from model to model and year to year. Sometimes, I figure that since I’m right there by the car, I might as well find the owner’s manual (that little booklet that’s typically buried in the glove box under all those extra napkins, broken sunglasses and assorted paperwork) and look up the procedure myself. (And, sometimes, the car may be too new that the procedures are not yet in an online information system.)
 
Oftentimes, I might even use it to find the exact amount of oil I need to add. But, for some reason, not one manufacturer can come up with a method of putting the information in one convenient spot. The information is included, but it’s hardly ever clearly placed where you can easily find it. And, you’d think with years of going through various owner’s manuals to find these reset procedures, or the vehicle’s oil quantity, that I’d have this down to an science. NOT!
 
So, here I am, just another day at the shop, doing another oil change, and, just like the last oil change, I’m sitting in the car flipping through page after page of that crazy book trying to find the right section. That might explain the crazy mechanic in the car, if you walked by right about then. You’d probably notice me shouting out a few comments about what I think of these poorly written vehicle exposés.
 
It’s like a maze of confusing references from one page to another. Tell me, why do these owner’s manual writers make it so difficult to find such everyday information? I know it’s in there; probably one short paragraph describing a few steps you need to do to clear the warning light, but do you think they’ll put a reference to that particular page in the index? Good luck on that one.
 
Of course, for a lot of the newer cars, you can reference a CD or go to a website where you can view the manual. To me, that just makes it even less likely that I’ll look. Instead, I’ll just go to my own computer and find the procedure in a repair information database.  
 
I’ve lost count of how many times that I think I’ve found the page with the information I needed, only to be directed to another section, which then leads me to an entirely different section. It’s just a pain in the dipstick to read these manuals sometimes, and that’s probably why most vehicle owners don’t read them at all. You know what these manufacturers need to do? They need to spice things up a bit, like hiring a professional drama writer to write the owner’s manual for them. I can’t say I’d sit down in my comfy chair next to the fireplace with a copy of Gone With The Owner’s Manual, but it wouldn’t hurt to make them more user-friendly, or we’d be back to square one. 
  

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