Car Owners’ Manual — The Complete Guide to Basic Automotive Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Welcome to the Car Owners’ Manual series. This is a comprehensive guide on basic automotive troubleshooting and maintenance. The manual is aimed at both complete novices as well as beginner DIY enthusiasts looking for a quick reference handbook they can access quickly and easily.

The Car Owners’ Manual will give you a closer look at all major automotive systems found on modern cars, explain what they do, and run you through some basic troubleshooting techniques you can use to problem-solve any potential issues on your vehicle.

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The Mission of Car Owners’ Manual

Owning a car is a privilege for some, but a necessity for most. An average American spends around 10 hours a week driving. That’s three weeks a year spent behind the wheel of your car. To say that we depend on our cars would be an understatement.

Yet, cars are machines and machines break down from time to time. Whether it’s a mechanical failure, material fatigue, or user error, cars will occasionally throw in the towel. It’s only normal. However, the level of disruption such breakdowns cause will depend on your ability to assess the issue, find a solution and potentially apply the solution yourself. is a brand with a long tradition of promoting and supporting the DIY spirit among our clients and customers. Ever since we first opened our doors, we wanted to show America that owning a European car doesn’t have to be too expensive. You can own your dream car on a budget. In fact, the parts are generally on par with most other car manufacturers around the world. It’s the dealership service fee that gets you.

By putting together this guide, we wanted to arm you with information that can help you avoid expensive dealership services. Will you become a certified BMW technician with the help of this guide? Probably not. However, by reading our guide you should be able to independently perform the most basic maintenance on your vehicle, successfully troubleshoot more serious issues, and predict potential problems with your car.

Who Is This Manual For?

The Car Owners’ Manual is aimed at beginner DIY enthusiasts as well as those who already have a decent understanding of cars. The information provided in this manual isn’t specific to any single car model in particular. Even if you’re a complete novice and don’t know the specificities of various makes and models, there’s a good chance that you can use most of the procedures and troubleshooting methods provided in the Car Owners’ Manual on your own car. 

As you grow your knowledge base and skill level, you’ll be able to use this manual to diagnose most problems you’ll encounter with your car.

Table of Content

We’ve divided this manual into two main sections — Basic Car Maintenance and Intro to Automotive Systems.

Basic Car Maintenance

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The first part of the manual is dedicated to basic car maintenance. Information contained here will tell you all you need to know to keep your car running smoothly for years to come. We’ve broken everything down to individual automotive systems, so you’ll find separate pages for:

  • Brake system maintenance
  • Suspension maintenance
  • Engine maintenance
  • Interior and exterior (paintwork) maintenance, or basic detailing

The information presented here will potentially save you a lot of money as well. You’ll learn how to change your own oil, how to inspect your brakes, and more — all of which are things that cost a pretty penny at your local dealership.

We will also discuss the difference in the quality of parts and lubricants available on the market. There’s a difference between a cheapo unknown brand oil filter, and one made by MANN. The same goes for engine oils, brake fluids, air filters, and more. You’ll learn all about these differences and why quality matters when it comes to car maintenance.

Intro to Automotive Systems

With basic maintenance covered, we move on to the second part of the manual, which is dedicated to learning about individual automotive systems. Again, we’ve broken the information down into several main categories that include the following:

  • Engines 101
  • Transmission 101
  • Braking systems 101
  • Suspension 101

Each of these segments is further broken down into detailed guides on various systems components. For example, in Engines 101, we’ll cover the basics of how engines work, but we’ll also take a closer look at all the adjacent subsystems including:

  • Lubrication
  • Cooling
  • Induction systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Exhaust
  • Fuel management

And many more. The idea behind each of these subsections is to explain how these individual systems work, their purpose as a part of a larger system, and some of the most common issues you can run into.

The Tuning Section

Each automotive systems segment also has a dedicated tuning section. This is where we’ll discuss various means of getting more performance out of your stock setup.

Considering that performance tuning is a process that varies considerably from car model to car model, we’ll only provide you with the general information and point you in the right direction. The goal of this section is to show you where you can get more from your car and why modifying your vehicle can be a good thing if done properly.

From there, you can independently research how much headroom you’ve got to work with on your specific car.

Constant Work in Progress

We won’t make too many promises in this manual, especially when it comes to guaranteeing solutions to your car’s potential problems. That would be reckless on our part. What we will promise is to constantly improve the Car Owners’ Manual with new and improved information.

It’s our goal to keep this content up-to-date and offer as many useful tips as we possibly can. Of course, if you’re interested in a subject that isn’t covered by this manual, feel free to get in touch with us, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. Additionally, you can become a member of our thriving online community where DIY enthusiasts just like you share their ideas and network on a daily.

With all that said, let’s get this long intro out of the way and get you on your way to finding the info you need.

Basic Car Maintenance Guide

Intro to Automotive Systems

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