Reviews

Best Auto Mechanic Books: Learn More About the Industry

Use any of these auto mechanic books to get a comprehensive guide on automotive systems

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook The Drive on Instagram

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BY Daniel Rika , Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON June 4, 2021

If you are a self-taught mechanic or are looking to advance your trade with a little more knowledge, then you will do well with a well-researched and accurate auto mechanic book. It can help you gain vast knowledge on how to fix, service, and upgrade your vehicle. The best part is that you get all the important tech information without joining a trade school that may cost a fortune. If you are looking for one of the best books to teach yourself how to handle your vehicle, consider one of the options in our buying guide below.

Best Overall
Tom Newton-How Cars Work 
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary
An illustrated book with simple line drawings and language that describes how 250 important car parts work.
Pros
Pros
  • Clear and concise language.
  • Uses simple diagram illustrations.
  • Helps you understand the inner workings of your vehicle.
  •  Includes tests after each chapter to help with memory.
  • Perfect for beginners who want to improve your auto mechanic vocabulary. 
Cons
Cons
  • May seem too basic for professional mechanics.
  • The book lacks in-depth information. 
  • Poor graphics.
Best Overall
Tom Newton-How Cars Work 
Best Value
Auto Repair For Dummies
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary
This book covers a wide range of basic topics while providing fresh and relevant content that’s not only educational, but entertaining as well.
Pros
Pros
  • Learn how to perform routine maintenance and basic repairs on your vehicle. 
  • You’ll also learn how to deal with roadside emergencies, troubleshoot issues, and extend the life of your car. 
  • This book will help you make easy sense of certain automotive systems that can seem confusing or daunting in their functions.
  • Book includes an under-the-hood checklist
Cons
Cons
  • It doesn’t offer much useful information on electrical systems or heating and cooling. 
  • It’s very basic compared to some other texts on the market.
Best Value
Auto Repair For Dummies
Honorable Mention
Automotive Technology: Principles, Diagnosis, and Service
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary
The fifth edition of principles, diagnosis, and service by Jim Halderman that offers an in-depth look into automotive servicing and technology. 
Pros
Pros
  • An easy-to-understand automotive service guide for beginners. 
  • A very informative and certified publication for students. 
  • Great point of reference for professional mechanics.
  • Broken down into short sections for easy-to-read coverage. 
Cons
Cons
  • One of the most expensive auto mechanic manuals.
  • It contains a lot of fluff information where the point could be clear and concise.
Honorable Mention
Automotive Technology: Principles, Diagnosis, and Service

Why Trust Us


Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Auto Mechanic Books Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
How Cars Work

Our pick for the best overall auto mechanic book is the good old standby How Cars Work by well-respected expert Tom Newton. This book is chock full of simple and straightforward illustrations that aid in gaining basic to advanced knowledge of car systems and how they work.


It offers in-depth descriptions and explanations of the 250 most important car parts and how they function. It even includes mini tests at the end of each chapter so you can see just how much you’re absorbing along the way. Or, you could also use this book as a tutoring textbook for new auto enthusiasts.


The book is written in concise and easy-to-understand vocabulary with basic terms that will help you gain mechanical knowledge, learn to diagnose car problems, and be able to speak about them intelligently. That said, this book is a little dated, but most of the information is still relevant. More advanced mechanics may find this book too remedial or basic.

Best Value
Auto Repair For Dummies

From the ever popular “For Dummies” repertoire comes Auto Repair For Dummies written by acclaimed auto repair guru Deanna Sclar. In true “For Dummies” fashion, this book covers a wide range of basic topics while providing fresh and relevant content that’s not only educational but entertaining as well.


Use this book to learn how to perform routine maintenance and basic repairs on your vehicle. You’ll also learn how to deal with roadside emergencies, troubleshoot issues, and extend the life of your car. This book will help you make sense of certain automotive systems that can seem confusing or daunting in their functions.


The book includes an under-the-hood checklist, tool advice, helpful illustrations, and much more. There’s even a guide to help you select, check, and care for your tires. It’s a great nuts and bolts resource for beginners. While not a great resource for in-depth issues or electrical components, this book will help to ensure you’re knowledgeable enough not to get hoodwinked by dishonest repair people

Most Expansive
Automotive Technology: Principles, Diagnosis, and Service

If you want a serious text that will provide an in-depth and detailed explanation of automotive principles and function, look no further than James D. Halderman’s Automotive Technology: Principles, Diagnosis, and Service. This is about as legit as you can get when it comes to learning the ins and outs of everything automotive.


Used as an in-class textbook for many automotive courses in high schools and trade schools, this text is designed to teach you how to diagnose, repair and service vehicles with confidence. It not only provides a basic understanding of automotive systems but also gives you a more in-depth understanding on the topic.


Since this book is used as a teaching text, it is big and bulky. It’s also quite pricey compared to many other auto mechanic books on the market. With so much information contained in it, you may also find that it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for quickly.

Best For Electrical Wiring
Automotive Wiring and Electrical Systems

Automotive Wiring and Electrical Systems by Tony Candela will help you make sense of the often confusing and daunting topic of automotive and electrical wiring. It’s a detailed, non-brand-specific reference book that will take you through car wiring from the ground up. It even covers which tools and equipment you’ll need for doing a reliable wiring job.


You’ll also learn how to design, assemble, and troubleshoot automotive electrical systems. If you’re already familiar with car wiring, this book will also help you advance your skills by addressing and explaining some more complicated situations. Learn everything from the basics of electrical principles, amperage, resistance, and voltage to adding new circuits or installing aftermarket electronics.


This book is a little dated and covers relevant wiring concepts if you’re looking to restore an older car. However, it lacks vital information on modern vehicle electronics systems. Some of the diagrams can also be confusing to readers who are very new to wiring and electrical concepts.

Honorable Mention
Automotive Engines: Diagnosis, Repair, Rebuilding

It’s hard to compete with in-depth teaching texts when it comes to learning all you need or want to know about automotive repair and maintenance. That’s why we love Automotive Engines: Diagnosis, Repair, Rebuilding by Tom Gilles. Yes, it’s a little on the dry side, but you get a plethora of up-to-date and relevant information.


Tom Gilles has been a college-level automotive professor for decades and has authored several textbooks. This book is the product of six previous editions, giving you much-need updates. Learn about the theory of operation along with all you need to know about rebuilding an engine.


This book focuses on universal repair techniques that are relevant for a variety of car and truck makes and models. It emphasizes technical expertise, but also critical thinking skills to teach you how to diagnose a range of problems. That said, this book is heavy, and we don’t just mean weight-wise. Parts of it can be confusing. It’s also very pricey, like most texts, but if you just need it for a short time, you have the option of renting it online, which is pretty cool.

Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to highlight, circle, underline, and write a few points in the manual. It will help you understand the book better and also help you learn to pick out the important bits of information. 
  • Do a little research about the book before you buy it. See what the book is about and learn the contents, size, and a little about the author. The best way to get all that information is to read as many user reviews as you can find. 
  • Buy a book that matches your experience; otherwise, you will feel like the book was a total waste of your time. If you are a professional, price shouldn’t be a motivating factor since the cheaper ones are mostly beginner manuals. 

FAQs

Q: Should beginners use advanced auto mechanic books?

A: If you are a beginner and choose an advanced level book, you may toss the book aside after a few chapters because it will be difficult to understand. Instead, buy something recommended for beginners with simpler language, better illustrations, and step-by-step guides into the basics. 

Q: How do I pick the best auto mechanic book for my work? 

A: First, you need to have clearly defined goals in terms of what kind of knowledge or skill you’d like to acquire. Most auto books are about repairs, maintenance, or troubleshooting the problem areas of an automobile. Go with the one that best suits your interests, and pick a few more surrounding the topic for some diversity. 

Q: Do I still need formal training after buying auto mechanic books?

A: It depends on your level of interest and how far you would like to take your new-found skills. If you want to consider a career in mechanic work or want to expand your knowledge, you should consider enrolling in an online or local program for auto service technicians. 

Final Thoughts

Our top pick is the Tom Newton-How Cars Work. It will help you understand your vehicle inside and out, and you will know what to do when a part fails. It’s also a great book for students and beginners. 

If you are looking for a more pocket-friendly book, consider Auto Repair For Dummies. It’s an inexpensive and relevant resource that makes understanding the basics of auto mechanic issues easy and straightforward.