Thanks for the insights, G-Benz.
If you're a "a very novice individual," then I'm the village idiot. I think I remember the thread on your brake-pad adventure. That's way beyond anything I would attempt, even with a manual. My experience with working on cars (if you can even call it that) pretty much consists of changing tires and adding oil. Without rock-solid instructions, I'm not willing to venture into endeavors that might imperil a car that I need every day of my life. With my limited experience and budget, I can't afford to screw anything up. Plus, I'm a coward.
I wish I could find this book locally (southern San Francisco Bay Area) so I could look before I buy.
Thanks for your thoughts!