|Guide Rating and Review|
by Vince Ciulla
Quite often I'm asked questions that the normal Chilton's, Haynes or other service and repair manuals don't cover. While they are good manuals and well worth the money, there are too many things they can't cover due to legal issues or in the interest of keeping them affordable. So when people hit these gaps they look to people, like me, to help them out.
But what if there was a place you could go to get all the information you need when you need it? What if you can go somewhere to get that specific wiring diagram you need to troubleshoot an electrical problem? or if there was a place to get exact procedures for doing a job specifically for you vehicle?
Well, there is just such a place and it's as close as your computer. It's called AlldataDIY. AlldataDIY is a subscription-based service that gives you access to all the repair information you need to maintain and repair your vehicles. It includes specific repair procedures, specifications, troubleshooting procedures, wiring diagrams and Technical Service Bulletins (TSB).
For those who don't know what a TSB is, it is a bulletin issued by the manufacturer with known problems and fixes for those problems. The also include changes in specifications, parts upgrades and other important information. These are the same TSBs the dealers service department gets on a regular basis. More on this later.
When you open AlldataDIY, you get the main screen, Figure 1. On the right side there is a list all the systems covered. In the upper left are direct links to the most often used information. Below that are links to general information on such things as Testing and Inspecting procedures, Service and Repair and Service precautions.
It is the right side that, I think, you will use most often. Here is where you will go for specific information on a particular system. As you drill down you will go to a screen that gives you more system choices. In the case of Powertrain Management" you will have a choice of going to Computers and Controls, Emission Controls, Ignition System, etc. Again you have information on the left and right sides. On the left side is links to the various sub-systems and on the right side information in general for Powertrain Management. Figure 2
When you choose the sub-system you want, all the parts of the system are listed on the left and specific information is linked to on the right side. This specific information includes a Description of the system and how it works, Testing and Inspection procedures, applicable TSBs, Parts and Labor, Specifications, Diagrams and Locations. Figure 3
On the left, next to the components is a check box showing there is information on repairs and parts and labor prices. Since labor rates vary widely, the rate is given in tenths of an hour. Each tenth of an hour equals 6 minutes so .5 hours would be 30 minutes, .2 minutes would be 12 minutes and .7 would be 42 minutes. You simply multiply the labor rate by the labor time to get the labor cost of a job.
Clicking on a particular component takes you to the specific information for that component. On the right is information on Testing and Inspection, Service and Repair, specifications, Parts and Labor and other specific information. Figure 4
When you go to the Parts and Labor screen you will find the Original equipment Manufacture (OEM) part numbers and price. The price is what you would pay for the part at the dealer and is generally higher than aftermarket prices. Below that is the labor times and skill levels. The warranty time is what the manufacture pays the dealership for a repair under warranty and the standard time is the time charged the customers by repair shops. These times are standard times used by everyone to price out repair jobs.
The skill level indicates the needed skill to do a job. An "A" mechanic can do everything. A "D" mechanic is generally a kid who does oil changes. A "C'" mechanic is basically, a parts swapper and a "B" mechanic does everything, except jobs that require calculations and precise measurement. Figure 5
Other important information includes detailed Specifications, Figure 6. Diagrams, Figure 7. Component Locations, Figure 8. And of course, Diagnostic Trouble Codes with information on how to troubleshoot each one. Figure 9
American Honda Motor Company has requested AlldataDIY to deny access to Acura and Honda repair information for U.S. and Canada consumers so you will not find information for these vehicles. In addition, BMW vehicles are not covered. AlldataDIY covers model years from 1982 to 2000 and information is updated quarterly and release new model years as the information is compiled. The AlldataDIY is only available via the Internet; there is no CD or DVD versions.
If you change vehicles in mid subscription, I'm told, and I quote, "Transfer of subscription from one vehicle to another during the subscription period is possible but addressed on a case by case basis." And again I quote, "So far, it hasn't been a problem transferring subscriptions to another vehicle and we've been very accommodating with those special cases." Will Chilton's or Haynes let you trade in your Buick service manual for a Ford service manual? It also has the advantage over printed material in that it the information is updated regularly.
I have noticed a couple of flaws, however. A lot of times it is assumed that a person knows how to do a specific task. So a total novice may have a problem understanding some of the information as presented. The second flaw is information in the area of Body and Frame is kind of slim. I believe that there is enough for it to be worthwhile to most but details for full body repair are not covered.
The price is $24.95 for one year and $14.95 to renew. You can add a second vehicle to your account for an additional $14.95 per year. If you use AlldataDIY to make one repair, it will have more than paid for itself. There is a demo you can use to see what it's like before you purchase it.
I have been using Alldata for several years and have found it to be the most accurate and up-to-date source of information for automotive repair and service I have ever seen. I highly recommend it.