ChiltonLibrary: Highly Recommended and “Makes Users Happy”

8 min read

Tune up your patron’s auto repair know-how!

For reliable car repair information, turn to Chilton, the car-care experts for more than 100 years. Find the most up-to-date coverage for almost every year, make, and model. Only available online! 

  • Save time and money with do-it-yourself car repairs
  • Access 24/7 from library, home or on-the-go
  • Look up recalls and service bulletins
  • Find estimated labor time
  • Prepare for ASE mechanic certification with test prep quizzes

In April, both Library Journal and Booklist reviewed ChiltonLibrary. Read what they had to say! 

Library Journal Review – This article was published in Library Journal‘s April 1, 2015 issue; by Katie McGaha.

CONTENT A trusted resource for automotive repair and information for more than 100 years, the Chilton car manuals are now available through Chilton Library, an online database presented by Gale. Promoted on the homepage as the place “where smart patrons click for service information,” Chilton Library aims to provide a search engine and tools that will make it easier and more cost-efficient for those seeking information about specific vehicles to find detailed auto repair instructions and other pertinent alerts at all hours of the day.

The platform contains data on repair, maintenance, and service for domestic and import vehicles from 1940 to the present, with monthly updates to keep the information timely. The product gives step-by-step instructions for auto repair and maintenance schedules as well as bulletins and recalls for the different models. It should be noted that the database is limited in the information provided for the select number of older vehicles included, which ranges alphabetically by make from Buick to Studebaker.

The expansive list of 2015 vehicles extends alphabetically from Acura to Volvo. Complemented by images and videos, the guides will make it easier for those with limited mechanical experience to work on their own cars. The repair section also features detailed diagrams that explain how a specific part works. The product allows drivers to select their desired vehicle (make and model) and enter approximate gas mileage to get a simple breakdown of the recommended maintenance schedule.

Two recently added features improve the resource’s offerings. ASE Technician Sample Tests will help those preparing to take the Automotive Service Excellence certification exam. Short tests that have been assessed by quality automotive technicians will identify areas they need to study prior to taking the official exam. There are 13 tests with approximately 15 questions each on a variety of automotive specialties, from engine repair to exhaust systems.

Chilton Library has also added a labor estimating tool. By looking up the car model and necessary repair, users can find out how long repairs should take when done by professionals, themselves, or under severe conditions.

ChiltonLibrary auto manual online
Click to enlarge.

USABILITY Chilton Library provides a basic search engine for accessing information on a large number of vehicles. The homepage has a clean, simple look that makes it easy for first-timers to navigate. Upon entering the site, users will find a search box with drop-down menus for the vehicle’s year, make, and model. Once these categories are filled, one needs only to press the “Select” button to view the result.

Within seconds, the search engine reveals links to the available data for the specified vehicle. Depending on the make and model, results will vary and display “Bulletins/Recalls,” “Maintenance,” or “Labor Estimating.” From the results page, researchers can also look up further information specifically on repair, maintenance, bulletins and recalls, labor estimating, and ASE test prep by following the links at the top of the page.

Making it simple for users to search through mechanical systems, the repair section includes a nested tree on the left-hand side of the screen, as well as a search button. The tree allows visitors to move from general topics (such as “Brakes,” “Diagnostic Trouble Codes,” “Engine Performance & Emission Controls,” “Fuel Systems,” and “Transmissions”) to specific subtopics by selecting a series of plus signs. A selected subtopic will load on the right-hand side, permitting information seekers to scroll through the data and simply select another topic in the tree if necessary. (For example, some of the subheads under “Transmissions” include “Automatic Transaxle” and “Manual Transaxle.”)

The search button directly above this section invites users to enter terms in a basic search box, ideal for quick access to a specific topic. Results load in the right-hand-side panel, linking to images and text that include the search term. Users can print the instructions found in the main panel by selecting either of the two “print” buttons found at the top of the page.

The maintenance option prompts searchers to provide more description of the vehicle through drop-down menus for submodel, fuel, cylinders, drive, body, transmission, and operating condition. This results in an easy-to-print maintenance chart listing service names followed by check marks detailing the recommended time intervals. Scrolling down reveals notes that expand upon the information in the chart, in addition to tips for ensuring quality upkeep of the car.

The bulletins and recalls option leads to a list of all that apply to the selected vehicle, including advanced filters by system, symptom, and trouble code, as well as a quick search box to make it easier for users to access data related to their needs. Popping out in the center of the page, the labor estimating tool requires car owners to either enter search terms or select an operation from the navigation tree, giving a straightforward synopsis of the estimated amount of time it should take to complete the task. The ASE test prep section has direct links to quizzes with drop-down menus to select answers, as well as immediate feedback for the benefit of users.

While the database and its information is designed to appeal to all skill levels, it is still valuable that users can access the help menu from any page in Chilton Library, save for the ASE sample quizzes page. However, the “Help” button opens a 20-page PDF in another tab rather than leading to a search engine. While it is possible to use the table of contents within the help section to find information on the different areas of the resource, it would increase user-friendliness to also offer search options such as the quick search and navigation trees found elsewhere in the database.

PRICING Based on the size of the population served. One-year subscriptions start at $1,395.

VERDICT Brought to users by an authority on automotive information, Chilton Library gives experts and novices the chance to find information to fulfill their automotive interests and needs. Auto experts can further develop their skills while novices will gain the information necessary to satisfy their curiosity and accomplish at-home repairs. Strong in user-­friendliness and value for the general public, this product is highly recommend for public libraries and other institutions interested in the automotive field.

Katie McGaha is a graduate of San Jose State University, CA, and Adult Services and Teen Librarian at Agoura Hills Library, County of Los Angeles Public Library. 

Booklist Review – This article was published in Booklist‘s  April 15, 2015 issue; by Rebecca Vnuk.

The big green Chilton manuals (and the smaller print paperbacks) have long been a staple on most library shelves, but they’ve always been a bit cumbersome to let patrons check them out. The online version, Gale’s ChiltonLibrary, has been updated with new features that will make users—from average DIYers to gearheads—happy.

From the home page, users can use drop-down menus to select the make, model, and year of a particular vehicle. The years range from 1940 to 2015, and all of the major domestic and import models (such as Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Toyota, Volvo) are well represented. Depending on the particular vehicle, available information includes technical service bulletins, recall notices, repair instructions, and maintenance details. Similar to the print version, the repair and maintenance information includes step-by-step instructions, close-up photos and illustrations, and wiring and vacuum diagrams. An advantage of the online resource is the ability to offer instructional videos. New features include a labor-estimating tool, which will help the user get an accurate idea of repair costs and time, and ASE test-prep quizzes for auto professionals. Content has also been rearranged into smaller packets, making printing easier.

This simple and easy-to-use database is ideal for any library where patrons ask for the print Chilton manuals or other car-care materials.

Interested in seeing ChiltonLibrary in action? Click here for Free Trial to JORDAN

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