We always get a lot of questions as of where to learn auto mechanic online and there sure is a lot of good auto mechanic online courses and schools already out there. But if you are more of a self-taught kind of person and aren’t afraid of putting in the work to get where you want to be, I think you can go a long way using the combination of the right books, some basic tools, your head and a car you can tear apart without having to rely on it for transportation. During the learning process, you may sometimes fuck things up a bit so make sure you don’t need the car to go to school/work the next morning.
So here’s a list of some of the most useful books we found to help you learn auto mechanics by yourself in the comfort of your garage!
by Deanna Sclar
This book is a perfect starting point for beginners to start their journey to learn auto mechanic and anyone who wants to know more about how cars work and how to fix them. In this book you’ll learn to:
- replace spark plugs, tires, air filters, add and change coolant, find and fix leaks, inspect and replace brakes and many more other components
- understand how tires work and how to choose them
- identify weird sounds, smells, and noises
- jump-start your car and handle common emergencies like overheating or stalling
- fix dents and scratches
- and much more!
While this book doesn’t cover in-depth electrical troubleshooting or engine overhaul, it will give you a good head start in auto mechanics. After reading it and with a little practical work, you should be able to perform basic mechanic repairs and understand a lot more about how your car works. This should help you save money and keep your car from wearing out prematurely.
Because this book is quite generic, I personally find that combining it with your vehicle’s repair manual is perfect. The Haynes/Chilton can fill in the gaps with specific information for your vehicle and the For Dummies book can put that in layman’s terms.
It also features a section to help you choose a good auto repair shop for those times when you still need to bring your car in for more complicated repairs… until you become a full-fledged auto mechanic yourself!
This one is written using the same style as the “For Dummies” one and is also oriented towards beginner auto mechanics. It covers all the major systems from brakes and suspension systems, tires, engine, steering to air conditioning and fuel system. I really like the fact that it features big, fully colored pictures, unlike most shop manuals which are often filled with poor quality black and grey pictures.
Simple layout, clear directions, this is a very good book to get the basics before getting your hands dirty.
This book is for starters too but the layout is a bit different from the others on the list. Instead of focusing on each system, this one describes the 250 most important car parts and how they work. The one-page-one-part format breaks down the information in chewable size chunks. Mini-tests are also included at the end of each chapter to help you memorize what you learned. Perfect for beginners!
Worth mentioning, “How Cars Work” was the most stolen book at Kennedy High School in Richmond California.Can’t argue with that!
This is the book I wish I had when I started playing with cars. Honestly, if you are a petrolhead in the making, it won’t take long after you started working and fixing your own car until you feel the need for more. Whether it’s more power, more grip, more shine, this book is what you need to get started. It will help you understand the principles of tuning and what you can do to make your car turn heads. You will learn how to perform more basic mods:
- suspensions and tires mods
- basic bolt-ons
- roll bars and anti-sway bars
- bigger brake kits
- aero add-ons like spoilers and lips
- car detailing
to more complex upgrades:
- replacing your ECU with a plug and play systems
- ECU hacks
- Adjusting fuel mapping and spark plug timing
Knowing what you can and what you can’t do and how to do it right before modifying your car will help you save time and, even more importantly, money. Trust me, if I had this book and thus hadn’t made all the mistakes I made when tuning my first car, I could have bought myself a better one instead of just burning money on that ’91 civic.
Yes, a ’91 civic.
This book is used for courses in technical and trade school. Therefore, you can’t really go wrong with this one. It is way more complex than the previous ones, though, but deeply covers all areas of automotive service. Topics are divided into short sections making it easier for you to understand and memorize all of it. If you’d like to get the complete theory as you would get it in a regular auto mechanic course or if you already have read other books for beginners and need more than the basics, this may be the book for you!
As the title says, this one focuses on the fundamentals of auto mechanics. It explains everything from the design to the construction of every automotive system as well as how everything works together. It is intended for more advanced mechanics who want to go well below the surface and may not be suitable for beginners. But what do I know? If you read most of the other books on this list and take some time to practice your mechanic’s skills, you may well need this book in the near future. Just be warned, this is a college textbook and is written as such. Also worth mentioning, this edition includes information on hybrid technology and direct injection. As these technologies are relatively new, some other books on this list don’t really go in-depth on the subject.
If you already are a pro mechanic, I strongly suggest you read this book. Not only because of the information on recent new technologies but also because it features a section on exploring new career opportunities. I really like products that go beyond expectations and this one sure gives you a lot of bang for your buck!
I won’t lie here. I am not a diesel mechanic and I almost never work on diesel cars. And because of that, I don’t know much about diesel engine’s inner working. In fact, this is a book that someone, a real damn good diesel mechanic, suggested I take a look at when discussing the fact that I don’t know a thing about diesel engines. Well, it gets the job done! I can’t say I’m a diesel mechanic yet but I’m way more confident about what I do when I work on a diesel car.
The book also contains information on all areas from fuel systems and turbochargers to exhaust after-treatment and electrical systems as well as focusing on troubleshooting procedures (which is really handy if you ask me). Also, the section on biodiesel and running straight vegetable oil is pretty interesting.
And I want to point out that this book has one of the best quality-price ratio between all the books in this list with over 400 pages for under 20 dollars!
(Probably the main reason I didn’t hesitate to buy it myself.)
This book is also an absolute must-have for any auto mechanic. It’s an in-depth (and when I say in-depth, I mean in-depth) troubleshooting guide exposing numerous techniques with a section discussing the art of troubleshooting and root cause analysis. This is how deep this book goes.
It’s packed with troubleshooting procedures covering virtually any automotive system you can think of. Whether you’re trying to diagnose a weird noise, a short to ground, a communication problem between two modules or you need some help working with an oscilloscope, this book has it all.
Some of you may also appreciate the detailed information on troubleshooting more advanced electronic systems you may find in today’s vehicles such as keyless starting systems and power-assisted steering system.
This is by far the most comprehensive and complete guide on troubleshooting I have ever seen. If you can’t find the procedure for the troubleshooting you need, you probably aren’t even working on a car anymore!
Seriously, if you are already an auto mechanic and you want to keep improving yourself and ensure you stay up-to-date with new technologies and upcoming troubleshooting techniques, buy this book now.
You won’t regret it.
This book is for advanced auto mechanics only. Seriously, this is really next-level stuff but I decided to include it here because I know some of you out there will want to read this. But you need to be warned. It’s a book written by engineers. Yes, engineers. The same engineers, we, auto mechanics, love so much. (Pro mechanics will get this one)
Understanding Automotive Electronics is described as “being written with an engineering perspective that includes mathematical models, providing a qualitative explanation of each subject that requires no mathematical background”. See what I mean?
But if you can see past that, it’s an awesome book. I can’t say I understand 100% of it but it’s always good to know your limits.
More seriously, if you’re into super deep electronic engineering such as automotive camera systems, hybrid control, telematics, active safety, entertainment, and communication this book is for you. This stuff is literally on the edge of auto mechanics and engineering as we all know how these two tend to get closer and closer with the arrival of more advanced electronic systems in the automotive industry.
Before long this may be standard knowledge for regular auto mechanics. Read this book and get a head start before everyone else!
- Basic Automotive Service & Systems
- Automotive Brake Systems
- Automotive Suspension and Steering Systems
- Automotive Engine Performance
- Automotive Electricity & Electronics
- Automotive Heating & Air Conditioning
- Manual Transmissions & Transaxles
- Automatic Transmissions & Transaxles
- Automotive Engine Repair & Rebuilding
Yeah, I know. This is not a book but a complete series of auto mechanic manuals actually being used in standard trade schools. In fact, it’s pretty much the same as what I used myself when I went to mechanic school. This series is super comprehensive and contains pretty much all you need to know about auto mechanics. Each book is divided into 2 manuals: a classroom manual and a shop manual. The classroom manual addresses the theory while the shop manual covers the tools, diagnostic procedures, and testing.
I thought these manuals should be included here because I just can’t say enough how much I still use my own classroom manuals on an almost weekly basis. Every time I get stuck on something at work, either I’m not sure how some sensor works or how I’m supposed to test it, I know I can find the answer in my class manual. The fact that each book is focusing on only one subject makes it easy to quickly find the information you are looking for.
The engine rebuilding manual is my current bedside book as engine overhaul is not something I have to perform really often. Re-reading these books from time to time is really good to stay sharp and prepared for anything that comes along.
Just know that the only inconvenient with this series is the price. If you decide to buy the complete series in one shot, the price tag could be pretty hefty, as with almost anything school-related. Just so you know.
I hope this list will help amateur and aspiring mechanics as well as pro and full-fledged technicians to always push the limits of their knowledge and never stop learning. The automotive industry is always changing and evolving, more and more electronics are being shoved every year in our beloved vehicles and the future seems brighter than ever. This is an exciting time to be a mechanic… as long as you know what you are doing!
Also, If I forgot a book or manual that should be on this list (I obviously can’t read ’em all so I may well have missed some pretty good ones), leave a comment below or send us an email to [email protected] and we will review it and add it to the list.
Oh! And yeah, in the spirit of full disclosure, we just want to make sure you are aware that some of these links are affiliate links. Meaning that every time you follow one and buy something, we do get a small commission. We don’t want you to feel obligated to buy something in any way ever but just know that if you plan to buy one of these anyway, we would greatly appreciate if you do use one of our links!
It helps us a lot!
Now get back to work! These cars won’t fix themselves!
Cheers and have a nice day!