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Consumer Information

Magazines @ Your Library

  • All libraries in the system carry the current issue of Consumer Reports Magazine, which tests specific new cars throughout the year.
    • Check the Annual Buying Guide for specific makes and models and the Special Auto issue every April.

  • The Main Library also subscribes to several car-related magazines that perform road tests. Check our Magazines A to Z list for titles such as Automobile, Car and Driver, and Road and Track.

  • At the Reference Desk of the Main Library you will find a collection of car review magazines from 1993 to 2010.

  • Access digital magazines via NCDL and (requires library card). offers full-text access to articles from many magazines. Simply type in the subject of review + "review" (example: Mazda 2014 test).

Choosing a Car

When buying a car, spend some time researching the types of vehicles and features that you may be interested in. Compare the positives and negatives of each car type. Some factors to consider are pricing, safety, reliability, and your budget. From, here is a list of questions to ask yourself when choosing a car:

  • How many passengers do you need to carry?
  • What type of driving do you do: highway, surface streets, off-road?
  • Will you drive in ice and snow?
  • Do you have a long commute and, because of that, is fuel economy important to you?
  • Do you need all-wheel drive?
  • What safety features are important to you?
  • Do you need a lot of cargo capacity?
  • Will you be using children's car seats?
  • Will you be doing any towing?
  • How much garage or parking space do you have?

Learn More

Find Local Vehicles for Sale

Figure Out a Vehicle's Worth

NADA and Edmunds guides are also available at the Library.  Ask at the Reference Desk.

Avoid Vehicle Fraud

Check a Vehicle's History

    A VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) can be used to check a car's history, including if the vehicle has been stolen. Listed below are several websites that provide VIN checks. No one resource has a complete history, so you may wish to check several sites. Do note some of these VIN checks are fee-based. Consider the fee and an examination by a mechanic money invested to keep you and your money safe.

Maintaining Your Car

Auto Repair Manuals

Search our Catalog by Any Field for the make and model of your car to find repair manuals. For example, Toyota Corolla.

You can also try searching by Any Field for Chilton's or Haynes, the two major publishers of auto repair manuals.

Reference Books

If you are unable to find what you need elsewhere, the Reference Collection at the Main Library contains many Chilton auto service repair manuals covering vehicles from 1940 to 2008. These items cannot be checked out, but copy machines are available. Please ask the Reference Desk for assistance.

Online Resources

AND! New in 2018 from NC Live: Auto Repair Source! A DIY auto maintenance database.


Author: Gaston County Public Library
Title: Buying & Maintaining a Car
Revised: 7 July 2020

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