[Product Review] Cengage Learning Automotive Service: Inspection, Maintenance, Repair, 5th Edition

Automotive Service: Inspection, Maintenance, Repair, 5th Edition is a college-level text book for students majoring in automotive service technology. Written by Tim Gilles, Professor Emeritus, Santa Barbara City College Automotive Technology Department and published by Cengage Learning, It is one of the top choices of community colleges when they select automotive service technology texts for their students.

So, why a review of a college-level text in the CAC’s book section?

This reviewer is frequently asked by CAC members who work on their Corvettes to recommend a good book from which one can learn to do Corvette service and repair work correctly. My answer is always two-fold: 1) a college text book on general automotive service technology and 2) the Factory Service Manual for the Corvette model year in question.

So, what is in a “college-level automotive service text”? DIY’s reading this book can be assured that the explanations are accurate and the procedures listed are the correct way to do automotive service work as the content in the book meets the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF) Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair Standards. Additionally, the book covers all eight National Institute Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) specialty areas.

Yes, the book is expensive. It lists for 140 bucks and sells for about $115 on Amazon. While it’s costly, it represents an outstanding value for the beginning or intermediate Corvette DIY wanting to learn proper service technique. This book is comprehensive. It’s 1670 pages with a 40-page glossary and 28 pages of index. It covers all major automotive service subjects. It’s not a book you’re going to read in a week or even a month. Consider it more of a long-term reading/learning project, say–one or two chapters a week for a year.

Another quality of Automotive Service: Inspection, Maintenance, Repair which is of value to the knowledge-hungry automotive DIY is that, like most text books, it’s divided up in the chapters by subject. For example, there is a chapter devoted solely to on-board diagnostics. That happened to be the first chapter this reviewer read mainly because of his expertise in that field allowed a quick judgment as to the book’s depth and accuracy. My new DIY challenge is learning to service modern automotive air conditioning systems so, I read Chapters 35 (A/C theory and fundamentals) and 36 (A/C service and maintenance) which taught me enough that, with the acquisition of some A/C service tools, I’ll begin doing A/C service work on the three Corvettes we have which are air conditioned.

Yet another plus is this book assumes the reader has either no understanding or just a basic understanding of each subject and then attempts to teach the reader enough that, given factory service information, he/she can adequately service the Corvette system in question.

Like most school books, each chapter of Automotive Service: Inspection, Maintenance, Repair has “review questions” with which the reader can self-test. They are presented in two formats, both single answer/fill-in the blanks and the ASE multiple choice style.

So, what CAC members who DIY their maintenance and service need this book?

Well…if you confine your work to really simple stuff like changing spark plugs or changing your oil and filter but leave the more complex tasks to a service shop, this book is likely no a wise purchase.

But, if you want to do everything on your Corvette from oil changes to engine overhauls, major suspension work and brake repairs, but you’re new to automotive service work and want to learn to do the jobs right, then Automotive Service: Inspection, Maintenance, Repair is a good choice to add to your automotive library. Want more information? See the Cengage Learning web site.

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