Missing Manuals Cause Concern

By Jeffrey Bellant May 30, 2018

Dealer Jeff Woloszyn recently noticed that more and more vehicles he purchased for his Wally’s Used Cars in Phoenix were missing a key feature: the owner’s manual.

Some manufacturers have been phasing out printed owner’s manuals for online versions. But that wasn’t the case here.

Instead, owner manuals that were supposed to come with the vehicles weren’t there.

Woloszyn soon found them, though. They were for sale on sites like eBay.

He sees so many of the manuals online that he suspects that they are getting swiped from vehicle trades before they go to auction.

“Most of the used-car managers that I talked to couldn’t care less,” he said. “It goes unnoticed, but it really is a problem. About 95 percent of new-car trades sold at auction are missing their owner’s manuals.”

A missing owner’s manual might seem like an inconvenience, but it can become fairly costly.

Dealer Jim Winterick, president of Gulfstream Motor Credit in Miami, has come across the issue, too.

“I’m a buy-here, pay-here dealer, so I’m selling lower-end cars, so normally the owner’s manual is not a problem,” he said.

“If it was a problem – if I need it to make a deal because it’s important to a customer – then I’ll buy one and give it to the customer.”

However, he’ll tell the customer that a specific owner’s manual may cost $50, so if they want it, Winterick will get it for them.

In those cases, a customer will say never mind, he said.

Winterick said it doesn’t mean that owner’s manuals are unimportant.

“Now, when you deal in later-model cars, it becomes imperative,” Winterick said, “especially if there are German cars. You have to have all the books and records because it’s important to some customers.

“It makes a big difference in the value of the vehicle.”

Woloszyn said he first noticed the problem years ago when he bought a Mercedes-Benz 500SL convertible.

“There was no manual in it,” he said. “So I figured I’d just buy one online.

“Well, it was $280.”

Woloszyn has an average retail price of $8,000 on his lot, which carries 50 to 60 units. He has been in business for about 40 years in Phoenix.

Paying for replacement manuals eats into his bottom line.

Woloszyn said the dealers don’t sell manuals and they’re hard to find outside of eBay, where there are thousands of them.

If all else fails, Winterick said his son pointed him to online videos as a suggestion for customers.

“I didn’t know you could learn how to do so much stuff on YouTube,” he said.

Woloszyn said sometimes you need the physical owner’s manual.


Last modified on Wednesday, 30 May 2018 20:11

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