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Everything You Wanted to Know About Car and Truck Assembly Manuals, and More
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 by Monica Marquez

Everything You Wanted to Know About Car and Truck Assembly Manuals, and More.



Assembly manuals are an awesome resource for working on your ride, but we get a lot of questions about them because they are less widely available than shop manuals.

What’s the difference between an assembly manual and a shop manual?

Usually assembly manuals show exploded views of the parts of the car. They contain no instructions (written assembly manuals are an exception). In addition to being useful for major projects, they’re particularly helpful for small details that may not be addressed in the shop manual, such as showing all the clips and attaching parts that hold small trim pieces on the car. The shop manual gives you step-by-step instructions for repairing your car. It too is illustrated, just not as thoroughly as the assembly manual.

So, an assembly manual is going to show me my whole car or truck, right?

In reality, most assembly manuals address one aspect of your vehicle. GM assembly manuals just labeled as general assembly books are for the final assembly line. They generally show mechanical parts, but major components aren’t broken down, like the engine, transmission, and body. That’s because each of those components has its own assembly line and its own assembly manual. Ford and Chrysler assembly manuals usually address one facet of a vehicle, such as the electrical system, body, chassis, or interior.

Why is the print so bad in my assembly manual?

Assembly manuals were never made for the public to see. These were internal books made for assembly workers inside the factory, and they were never meant to be pretty. The originals often look like a bad photocopy or mimeograph. Sometimes they look like blueprints. Most assembly manuals have at least some print that is unreadable, although this varies a lot from one title to the next. Some assembly manuals have watermarks in their background image – these are almost always made only by one printer and no other option is available. Despite these imperfections, most restorers find that the books have enough useful information that they are worth having.

Can I get an assembly manual for any car I want?

You just have to luck out to get one for your car. Only a handful of originals were made for any vehicle, and one of those originals has to find its way into the hands of a willing reprinter to make it available to the public. Faxon Auto Literature carries all the assembly manuals we can find, and we’re always looking for more.