Regular column will highlight vehicle-specific tips from SRN’s vehicle specialist
In a new column, “Ask Katrina,” SRN will share vehicle-related CPS information from Katrina Rose, SRN collaborator and vehicle liaison for the LATCH Manual. Katrina regularly fields questions posed by technicians in the field, so this column will provide an opportunity to share her answers and insights with all SRN readers.
We’ll kick off the column with a fundamental question:
How do you locate a vehicle owner’s manual online?
From Katrina: CSPTs do a good job checking car seat owner’s manuals but sometimes give less attention to the vehicle manual. One reason might be that vehicle manuals are sometimes harder to find. When it comes to a CR manual, if the caregiver can’t provide a hard copy, it’s gotten easier in recent years to find it on the CR manufacturer’s website. CPSTs can also find digital CR manuals using SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.’s Child Restraint Manufacturers’ Instructions resource (www.carseat.org).
But finding an electronic version of a missing vehicle manual is often more challenging. While a browser search is likely to turn up manuals offered by third parties, those versions aren’t always reliable. As with CR manuals, it is always better to use a manual directly from the manufacturer’s website, unless that manufacturer has authorized another company to handle that function.
To be fair, some vehicle manufacturers make it easy to find manuals on their websites. Often, simply go to the official website, and then find Owner’s Manuals under a tab such as Owners. (U.S. and Canadian websites are noted at the top of each vehicle brand’s entry in Appendix B of the LATCH Manual.) Naturally, it’s important to know the correct model name and model year. (Also, see the box below for a few other caveats.)
But, for some brands, finding owner’s manuals can take a bit more searching. Since my work frequently requires that I do that sort of searching, I developed the SRN Vehicle Owner’s Manual Locator Guide. Available for free at www.saferidenews.com, the SRN locator guide gives a brand-by-brand roadmap for finding official vehicle owner’s manuals, whether the search is straightforward or more challenging. For each brand, the guide lists an official website along with an explanation of how to find owner’s manuals from the site’s homepage. The guide is available in a web-based format as well as a printable/searchable PDF and provides information for both the U.S. and Canada.
For a few brands, the locator guide indicates that the owner’s manuals are not available online, which may reassure techs when their own search turns up empty. Even when manuals are available, most brands provide them going back only a certain number of years, so the SRN locator guide notes the earliest model year available. Of course, because websites get revised, SRN periodically reviews and updates the locator guide, as needed.
For applicable Fiat Chrysler Automobile brands (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep), the locator guide also indicates how to find each brand’s CPS Supplement, a guide that specifically addresses CR installation in some models made MY 2000 to as late as MY 2015. For Nissan/Infiniti, the locator guide links to the company’s Snug Fit Guide, which recommends CRs based on installation and fit in specific models.
Tips Available for Reading Vehicle Owner’s Manuals
While locating the proper vehicle owner’s manual (described on this page) is the first step, CPSTs and caregivers must also know how to find its CPS information and use it effectively. So the SRN Vehicle Owner’s Manual Locator Guide also includes general tips for reading manuals to help CPSTs find CPS information quickly and accurately. These tips—geared specifically to vehicle manuals, not CR manuals—are good reading for any CPST but would be especially helpful for new technicians. An idea for CPST instructors or others holding technician update events is to develop a CEU session about vehicle owner’s manual literacy that draws from these tips.
Find the tips at www.saferidenews.com.
Select online manuals carefully. Many vehicle manufacturer websites offer a variety of manuals, some general and others for specific vehicle systems.
Some vehicle brands offer a vehicle user guide in addition to an owner’s manual. In the automotive world, a user guide is typically a simplified version of the full owner’s manual. While CPS information should be included in both, there are instances in which more detail on CR installation is provided in a model’s full owner’s manual.