Ask the Best and Brightest: Do You Need a Full Paper Owners' Manual?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

For those of you unfamiliar with the secret language of telephone-based customer service representatives, RTFM means “Read the F-ing Manual.” Only now, for Chrysler, it’s PTF-DVD: “Play the F-ing DVD.” Automotive News [sub] reports that “Chrysler Group is replacing its traditional owner’s manuals with DVDs and an abridged printed guide in an effort to reduce costs and save 930 tons of paper annually.” Wow! Can you imagine how much better off the planet would be if Chrysler stopped making cars? Just kidding. As for costs, well, taxpayers have sunk over $10 billion in this bad bad boy, so every penny ChryCo doesn’t spend on paper manuals goes to their “Save the Sebrings!” campaign. Uh, how many pennies is that, anyway? “Spokesman Bryan Zvibleman . . . declined to say how much will be saved by the change, which is taking effect with 2010 models.” Declined? As in refused? I like “demurred,” but then I like my euphemisms shaken, not stirred.

Is this a big deal? It sure was to Chrysler (the artist formerly known as “under private equity ownership, we can move much faster than our competition”) . . .

Chrysler had been considering the change for more than a year, said Al Motta, head of service operations. The automaker conducted a consumer study, solicited input through an online forum and held four focus sessions in Chicago to help determine what information to include in the printed version.

Finally, Chrysler mailed 500 sample DVDs and printed guides to customers who had bought 2009 Wranglers and sought feedback. The reaction was mostly positive, Motta said, especially to features such as the soft-top video tutorials.

Is that an inside joke? Or an outside joke? More importantly, could you live without a full owner’s manual in your car? Me, no. I want to have the full guide to everything to do with the car in the glovebox, in paper form, ready to go. But then, I’m paranoid. And the world’s out to get me.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • ZekeToronto ZekeToronto on Sep 24, 2009

    showbizkid wrote: The Owner’s Manual for my 2005 Honda Pilot is over 260 pages, most of which are filled with little triangular “lightning bolt” symbols telling me I may die if I check my tire pressure incorrectly. I swear two-thirds of the text in my (Audi) manual is the same. I hate that ... and I'm a lawyer.

  • Racenviper2 Racenviper2 on Sep 24, 2009

    ZekeToronto -> THANKS! Only in the US were a company has to protect themself from silly litigation. The rest of the world does not seem the have the litigation problem we have here in the the US, except China. You do not want to litigate there.

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