Got 43 Hours to Spare? Try Reading Your Car’s User Manual

November 10, 2022
Ellie Swanson

Auto manuals aren’t known for being page-turners.  Fortunately, there’s a better way.

Cars and trucks are complex machines, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their user manuals are among the most voluminous. The Audi R8, for instance, has a 308-page manual containing more than 616,000 words — a vast body of text that’s 29,000 words longer than War and Peace, requiring well over 43 hours to read cover-to-cover.

Of course, nobody ever does read their auto manual from start to finish. Instead, they dip in if they have a particular issue to solve: when dashboard light starts blinking, the engine starts clanking, or they just can’t figure out how to pop the hood. An auto manual isn’t a work of literature: it’s a reference tool designed to be pulled out to solve a specific problem.

Even by that measure, though, most auto manuals fall short. For some problems, it’s fine to reach into the glove box and pull out the manual. For many others, though, a paper manual is far from ideal: try leafing through a manual while trying to change a tire in bad weather, for instance. The more you use the manual, the more dirt-spattered, torn, and grease-stained it gets — and the less legible it is the next time you run into trouble. 

Time to go digital

To overcome these challenges, some automakers are digitizing their user manuals. That doesn’t just mean turning a manual into a PDF: though easy to produce, PDFs are hard to use, and leave motorists scrolling through countless pages of tiny text on their phone screen. 

Instead, automakers are using AI tools to digest their manuals and automatically generate slick, intuitive web portals where motorists can quickly access all the information they need. With a mobile-first design, these web channels are easy to read and navigate, putting information at motorists’ fingertips even if they’re working in a windy parking lot or a poorly lit garage.

A driver who needs to change a tire might scan a QR code on the hubcap or the jack to pull up how-to videos, safety warnings, and other vital info. Another might use the service to get immediate help when their check-engine light blinks on, or to quickly order OEM-recommended add-ons such as wiper inserts or all-weather floor mats. And service technicians can benefit from the same process, scanning QR codes to get detailed information — from maintenance schedules to detailed diagrams — and order approved parts direct from the manufacturer’s catalog. 

With almost one fifth of all auto parts returned by the buyer — the highest rate of any product type, according to the National Retail Federation — seamless access to authoritative product information can also help automotive brands to minimize costly returns, streamline the service process, and keep customers’ vehicles operating smoothly. 

The Conveyer difference

At Conveyer, we’re dedicated to helping automakers and other creators of complex, high-performance products to quickly turn existing product documentation into dynamic, discoverable, and easy to use digital solutions. 

Motorists deserve better than hundreds of pages of small print and hard-to-read diagrams. So get in touch with Conveyer today — and learn how we’re helping the automotive sector to shift into a higher gear.