Do people want a hard copy of the owners' manual for their car?

Subject: Do people want a hard copy of the owners' manual for their car?
From: "Latella, Vincent" <VINCENT -dot- LATELLA -at- saic -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 15:10:47 -0400

I know that we've been through the whole "do you really need a printed
manual" thing before on TECHWR-L, but at this very moment, presumably
non-writer types are hashing out that very topic as it pertains to
automobiles on The Truth About Cars:

Reading comments on the topic from random individuals (instead of
technical writers) is interesting, I think, so I thought I'd share.

For those who don't want to visit the website, the basic gist of it is
this: Chrysler is apparently replacing its owners' manuals with DVDs and
abridged printed guides, and there's a blog post about it. The poster
indicates that he wants one "in the glovebox, in paper form, ready to

The people posting comments seem divided. Here are a few excerpts:

"Works for me... this leaves more space for useful [stuff]."

"I'm glad I have it... when a rear tire blew I used it to find the jack
and decipher the spare-tire-lowering mechanism."

"So while at the arena at 11:30 on a minus 20 degree night, and I need
to know (at a glance) which blown fuse controls whatever, I'll just
power up my laptop and scroll through the pdf owner's manual. Genius.
Why's Chrysler in the situation it's in again?"

[In response to the comment above:]

"FYI - Typically, the back cover of the fuse box has a diagram of which
fuse controls what need for the manual."

"I don't see any problem with it. Chrysler's website lets you can
download the manual free of charge, so those who feel the need could
always just print a copy themselves."

"Going forward an iPhone/blackberry app and access via URL from a
smartphone should do the trick. No reason the manual shouldn't be
available at [URL]"

"Not that the printed material is correct most of the time anyway.
Speaking on the documents for my Government-Motors CTS, the full-printed
manual and the quick start guide have a few inconsistencies (and
wrong/incorrect information) on how to do certain things. Duh.

But, I'd rather have the printed than the DVD, I can go through the
former at my own pace as opposed to slow, tortuous DVD instructional

"I looked at the owner's manual of my '07 Accord just a few weeks ago,
to find out how the heck to change one of the headlight bulbs.

I want it in print, and not at the hand of my own printer which will be
way too large."

"I think to not print the owner's manual is an error in judgment on
Chrysler's part. I'm surprised their legal department allowed it. With a
DVD, third party equipment is required.

Say someone puts in the wrong tranny fluid, damage is done, and a court
claim is filed. To say it was in the lovely HD-DVD won't fly in front of
judge and jury. Before, if someone used the wrong ATF, Chrysler could
say 'But we put it in the manual so that wouldn't happen'. Now the onus
is on them instead of the customer

In a liability case it strengthens the plaintiff's cause, probably
guaranteeing Chrysler to found liable. If none of their competitors are
doing, there may be a good legal reason. Laws aren't recorded on paper
just cause of tradition."


Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

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