Whether you fix your own car or use your local repair shop, there is a resource that is as close as your home computer. You just need a library card.
The vast majority of community libraries subscribe to the EBSCOhost database, which provides the Auto Repair Reference Center. With a library membership you can retrieve information on how to perform repairs on your car and also calculate the labor cost to have someone else do the work.
In addition you will be able to search for technical service bulletins and recalls, consult wiring diagrams and check the specs and recommended service intervals for your vehicle. While the content isn’t all inclusive, the navigation is adequate but not quite as smooth as some of the systems tailored for professionals.
I suggest using the data to inform your repair decisions about your car. For example, if your 2000 Chevy Blazer has been diagnosed with a bad fuel pump, you are able to plug in the shop’s labor rate and calculate the labor charge you should be paying for that job. Not all topics are available for all makes and models, so you may not be able to retrieve labor times for some later model cars and trucks.
The TSBs tend to be a few months behind but they can still give you an idea if your problem has been addressed by the manufacturer which can be the first step to getting a repair handled under warranty. The bulletins are listed by the area of concern like brakes or emission control and then narrow down from there to specific problems.
The other part this database can play in your dealings with your repair shop is self education. The repair procedure information can be used to visualize what needs to be done to your vehicle and in so doing you can increase your comfort level with the repair process.
Should you attempt to follow the repair procedures described in at the Auto Repair Reference Center, be sure to read the precautions section of the instructions carefully to avoid injury.