If your car dashboard has a light illuminated that you’ve never seen before, the first step to getting it fixed is knowing what it means. From figuring out warning lights to letting you know how much your car can safely tow, your owner’s manual is there to explain how to deal with all sorts of car-specific questions and issues. This critical document can tell you everything from what viscosity oil your engine needs to the safest areas to attach a tow hook in the event of an accident.
Cars of all vintage should have an owner’s manual, but how and where they’re located can vary by make, model, and model year. Here’s how to find the owner’s manual in your car.
Check the glove box
It almost goes without saying, but a car’s passenger-side glove box is the most traditional location for owner’s manuals. Some cars have special shelves specifically for these books, and most modern cars have them placed within a branded folder.
Always check here first and look for a specific section of the glove box before you close and move on.
Check your car’s on-board telematics system
A growing trend among modern cars is digitized owner’s manuals. This is done to cut down on paper-based resources, boost sustainability, and increase connectivity. If you can’t find a paper book, chances are it’s available through a mobile device - either your smartphone or a tablet.
If this is the case, chances are also high your car has on-board telematics (such as Ford’s SYNC, Hyundai’s BlueLink, and OnStar), which is a great place to start looking for your manual.
Contact a service representative and ask where you can access your owner’s manual. You’ll download an app to read the manual. If your car doesn’t have on-board telematics but still no paper-based manual, check in the app store on your phone for an automaker-specific application.
Check with the car manufacturer
Automakers can, for certain cars (typically ones no more than 25 years old), supply a copy of your owner’s manual. Many offer owner-specific websites where drivers can download digital copies by entering in their car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). The best way to start is by searching the make of your car along with the phrase “owner’s manual.”
The first result should be a direct connection to the automaker. You can also call your local dealer and try to order a paper manual. This will likely come with a cost however, so keep that in mind.
There is a lot of work involved to maintain a car properly - especially if you want yours to last the distance. Knowing the specific details about your make and model will help you maintain it properly, therefore increasing the life of your car.