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Taming the World Wide Web

What You Need to Know Before You Click


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The web can be a great resource.

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Why are you reading an article about the Internet in the Tools section of an auto repair website? Old timers are sticking their heads in the parts cleaner about it, but the web has become one of the most used tools in auto repair. Gone are the days of ordering a stack of factory service bulletins to get you through any potential repair issues you might encounter. No longer do you need to sneak around at the auto parts store and tear the cellophane off the repair book about your car. It's all right here on the World Wide Web.

Unfortunately, along with the enormous wealth of information the web has to offer comes three elephants worth of worthless jabber. It's easy to be led astray by an amateur posting his best guess on a web forum. There's seldom any way to tell whether the online mechanic who gave you the 1-3-4-2 firing order was a seasoned technician or somebody's nephew with a Speak-n-Spell. For this reason, we must be careful when we're using our online resources.

By following a few guidelines, you can be sure the web doesn't leave you on the side of the road.

  • Do lots of research. There's no substitute for a thorough education on the repair.

  • Find and register on a forum that is specific to your car. This will increase the chances of finding somebody familiar with your repair.

  • Use the search function on automotive websites to find multiple answers to your question, then compare them.

  • Ask lots and lots of questions. The internet isn't a high school popularity contest. Even if you sound dumb, nobody will care, and you might save yourself some serious money.

  • Go to more than one resource with your problem and try to find the same answer to eliminate the knucklehead factor.

  • Take what you read with a grain of salt. If you do a search for "Dodge bad transmission" you'll find a hundred horror stories. Before you convince yourself that your tranny's next, remember that all the people who never had a transmission problem aren't frantically posting that on the net.

  • Use common sense! If you think something sounds ignorant, there's a good chance it is just that. You'll be kicking yourself if you go against your own judgment and something goes wrong.

One more thing. There is still no substitute for a proper repair manual. The publishers of these manuals go to great lengths to insure the information on those pages is correct and up to date. That's a lot more than you can say for the average auto repair chat room.

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