Chrysler switches to digital owner's manuals with 2010 models

Starting with the new Chrysler models owners will find something missing in their glovebox -- a hard copy owner's manual.

In an effort to trim costs, save 20,000 trees a year and be more consumer friendly, Chrysler will put the owner's manuals on DVD instead of printing them.

The good news is that Chrysler doesn't plan to leave you stranded if you need to know how to change a tire, jump start a car, diagnose warning lights and other standard operations. You can find these guides in the condensed and easier to navigate "User's Guide," an 80-90 page listing of need to know items that will be included in each Chrysler's glove box.

The reason for the switch, a first amongst car makers, is a sound one. I don't know if you've looked at an owner's manual lately but they've gotten bigger in recent years and the table of contents still appear to have been organized and labeled by a half drunk orangutan.

Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO -- Mopar Service, Parts and Customer Care at Chrysler, says in the press release that the new digital manuals and smaller user's guide will make it "more convenient for customers to find the information they seek." Users will be happy to know that they can search for the problem or topic they are looking for rather than flipping page after page.

The digital owner's manuals will also include videos to demonstrate tasks such as, "folding down a Jeep Wrangler soft-top, operating the video entertainment system and setting electronic speed control."

Before you dismiss this added feature, I'll tell you that my father would have loved how-to videos to explain how to operate the CD player in the Chrysler they recently got as part of the Cash for Clunkers program since it would have saved him a return trip to the dealer for a lesson.

Customers who prefer a paper copy of the owner's manual for their Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicle will be able to request one from the dealer or by contacting customer care. If the process is anything like replacing a manual for my dad's '00 Jeep Grand Cherokee, expect to pay about $27 for the privilege of a printed copy.

Currently Chrysler does offer free digital copies of the owner's manuals for vehicles from 2004 to present at but they don't include the how-to videos that will be included on the DVD owner's manuals.
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