For years, big plastic engine covers and the owners’ manual have teamed up and conspired against us, the enthusiasts, to prevent owners from actually taking a peek under their own hoods. But now Hyundai has blasted through that evil notion with the first mainstream augmented reality virtual owners manual.

Alright, I know “augmented reality virtual owners manual” sounds like quite a confusing mouthful, but in practice it’s actually pretty brilliant. With virtual reality apps for smartphones and tablets, the basic idea is that you point the camera of the device at something, and the app recognizes what your looking at, and relays information over it.

It’s usually useful if you’re going on some sort of museum tour, or need some translation help. In Hyundai’s case, they’ve configured the whole app to work with your car, and the result is that it completely de-mystifies basic maintenance.

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What’s that big plastic thing there? Oh, well it’s just the air filter. Want to know how to change it out? Click on it with your finger, and it’ll show you exactly how to do it. The app will also tell you about neat little things in the car as well, like what those sometimes-cryptic lights on the dashboard mean.

Here, check out this video Hyundai made that shows how it works:

The app contains “82 how-to videos, six 3D overlay images that appear once users scan areas of their vehicle like the engine bay and more than 50 informational guides,” according to Hyundai.

Hyundai started handing out iPads containing owners manual apps with its cars a little while back, and this sounds like a natural integration into all that. It’s first available for the 2015 Sonata, but Hyundai says it’ll come to more cars soon.

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My question is why this hasn’t been on every single car for the past few years. And why this isn’t available as a download for every single car on the road today.

And now just imagine if there were Haynes manuals like this.


Contact the author at ballaban@jalopnik.com.
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