How to Find a Car Owner's Manual

Missing your owner's manual? We've got you covered with these replacement resources.

Book copy of vehicle owner's manual in black caseA.N. Smith | Capital One


If your vehicle is missing its owner's manual, you're in a situation that's more common than you might think — especially for older vehicles that have changed hands a few times.

It's easy to misplace owner's manuals of any size, as most people who've removed one from the glovebox to look something up can attest to. Owner's manuals can get left in garages, driveways, and basements, often lost for good.

You Have Several Options if Your Manual Is Missing

Your owner's manual is one of the most reliable sources of information about your vehicle's maintenance needs, how its various systems and features operate, and all the general information you might need to know.

For the most part, owner's manuals are books that fit into a vehicle's glovebox or center console, with some automobiles offering multiple manuals that cover more complex equipment, such as infotainment systems. Some manuals might come as CDs or DVDs.

If you can't find your owner's manual — either because you've misplaced it or because a used vehicle you bought didn't come with one — there are a few replacement options available.

Owner's Manuals Can Be Found in Print and Digital Form

If you're looking for a physical replacement copy, you can often simply buy another copy online. Searching a site such as eBay or Amazon will often provide you with used and new manuals in a range of price points.

You can also order a replacement manual from some automakers. Lincoln, for example, has partnered with Bishko Automotive Books and Helm to provide access to owner's manuals dating back to the 1940s. Helm also offers a long list of owner's manuals from other major automakers.

Many car companies provide downloadable owner's manuals for free on their websites. PDF files that can be viewed online or saved to your computer or other device are available from almost every car company, and some automakers also host searchable web manuals. Keep in mind, however, that not all of these online manuals are available for every model year.

Finding a Replacement Owner's Manual Can Be Easy

It's important to select a replacement owner's manual that meets your needs. For example, an online manual might be great when you're sitting in front of your computer but may not translate well on your phone screen as you puzzle through your vehicle's features.

If you're stuck in an area without internet access, a manual that's only available with an internet connection won't be helpful.

At the same time, when purchasing a paper replacement manual, make sure you select the exact model of vehicle you own, otherwise the book might not cover every feature installed in your car or truck. Some manual vendors, including automakers, ask for your vehicle identification number, or VIN, to make sure you get the right match.

When buying a used manual, check also to see whether the seller is offering a complete set of documentation for your model year. It could be a problem to have the package arrive and discover that an infotainment manual is missing from the pile, for example.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.