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LACar.com - October, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Hack Mechanic Guide to European Automotive Electrical Systems
REVIEW BY: Doug Stokes

Thorough, surely scholarly, but still written in understandable terms, and with an almost uncountable (every page) wealth of sharp, understandable diagrams, photos, and charts ? this book is (almost) fun to read, even if it is only to try to better simply understand what?s going on under the hood of your car and not necessarily to trace problems down and fix them oneself.

Like a book on medieval warfare techniques and technology, or the ins and out of brain surgery, this book can easily be read just for the information ? Knowledge is (pardon the pun) power here. You KNOW that your car runs on gasoline, right? You?re quite aware of that at the pump every time you fill your fuel tank up and slide that pair of twenties across the counter or swipe your credit card in the slot. (By the way, if your European car or truck is a hybrid plug-in all-electric, go on to the next book review here. On the other hand, if it relies on an internal combustion engine, stay tuned?).

OK right, that running on gasoline question was bogus. Your standard car, truck, and/or motorcycle all need highly complicated electronic systems, not only to run and control the motor and automatic transmission, but to see to a huge number of your needs and desires, from sun/moon roofs to 20-way adjustable seats, and on to NAV systems and super-vigilant safety systems that guard and guide the vehicle as well as providing protection in collisions and crashes.

This book is most assuredly not for everyone, even though it?s written in some of the clearest and easiest to understand language, not everyone is all that worried about the electrically system(s) in their cars.

Until they fail.

This book is the one that 8 out of 10 people reading these words will never even crack ? but those two, the ones who this book is for, can be very important to the rest of us.

And that's the idea here. This is an intelligently-written course that deals quickly with the general theory of automotive electronic systems and then goes about informing how to diagnose and treat (I mean repair) both simple and complex electronics components that are vital parts of the nervous systems of a number of brands of very popular off-shore car brands.

WARNING: PERSONAL FLASHBACK: Many years ago, when I worked at HQ branch of Region 7 of the LA County Library System in West Covina, I developed a theory. (Bear in mind that this was long before the Internet and only in the early stages of videotape ? most technical knowledge was still only available in books.)

My theory was that well past half of the books that we had that pertained to doing some specific task (let's say your own plumbing, or re-roofing your house, or tracing down a short in your car's wiring system) were often, and in fact, how NOT to do it books ? in their use in informing the reader of the degree of difficulty of a certain task.

Readers were apprised of the how complex a job was and often (after assessing themselves) went with professional help.

Like the books in the LA County Library system, this one is very good at separating the adept from the less adept. And especially the less adept who understand that they really do not have to be able to re-wire their twelve year old Audi in order to be fulfilled, and who understand that far more clearly because they looked at the process in this book and said: "Pass ? let's get a pro in here.", which sometimes is the smartest, most efficient, least expensive, and safest approach to a serious automotive electrical problem.

One feature of this electrical textbook is the author's very informative information on the dangers of working with electrical devices. By now, I'm going to guess that we?ve all felt the vibrating sting of an electric shock. Since you're reading this, I'm going to guess that the shock did not wipe you out, but author Siegel is very careful to explain that a nasty shock CAN be very bad (life-threatening in many cases) and that caution and common sense is the only pre-antidote for this one. His warnings here are clear and correct.

And (aside from a radio not staying on station, or a CD getting stuck in the player) most modern automobile electrical problems are just that, serious. There may be sufficient gasoline in the tank, but if a very long list of electrical signals aren?t followed precisely to the letter, and dozens of minute connections aren?t made exactly on time and in a very precise order, in the words of Bob Dylan, "? you ain?t going nowhere".

-Doug Stokes, LACar.com

Article from and courtesy of LACar.com