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Car Buying and Maintenance: Car Buying & Maintenance

Tips, Evaluations, and Financial Data for Car Buyers and Owners

Car Buying & Maintenance

Mercedes M-Class

Pictured Above: The Mercedes Benz model set to be built at the U.S. plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2015.  The model is completely new and the fifth official product in the line.  The Tuscaloosa plant is also the site where Daimler chose to produce the 2012 M-Class, GL-Class, and R-Class SUVS and is set to produce the revamped C-Class Sedan in early 2014. (by Dylan Roderick, 10/24/11,

Sites for Car Buyers

Books about Car Buying & Maintenance

Basic Information about Car Buying & Maintenance

Choosing a Car

For the magazines below which are available full-text on the Alabama Virtual Library, the link takes you to the AVL. Other resources link to the website. If you are a resident of Alabama, you should be able to access AVL resources without a login and password.

  • Consumer Reports: The April issue includes top picks, reviews of current models and evaluations of used vehicles. Other issues contain in-depth articles on various models, often focusing on such nuts and bolts details as tires and batteries.
  • Motor Trend: Includes car pricing information, current rebates & incentives, safety data, car photos, specs & more.
  • Car and Driver: Provides car reviews and car buying advice.
  • Road & Track: Check out buyers guides, sneak peeks, road tests and more.
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Gives crash data for cars as well as data on seat/head restraints
  • Provides gas mileage data on U.S. cars, trucks, vans, etc.
  • Automobile Quarterly: For antique car enthusaists.
  • Automobile Magazine: In-depth auto reviews.

Price Comparisons

  • N.A.D.A. Used Car Guides: Includes pricing information for used cars, including suggested retail value. Also includes pricing for vans, trucks, recreational vehicles, marine vehicles, motorcycles, etc. The Main Library Reference Department provides the paper guides at Reference Desk.
  • Kelley Blue Used car, truck, and motorcycle values. Contains information on calculating financing rates.
  • Offers comparisons on new and used car deals, incentives, rebates and road test results.


    • Auto Repair Reference Center: Provides a great deal of vehicle information to the car owner who wants to repair a car or who just wants to understand how the car works. Vehicle information includes repair procedures, service bulletins and recalls, and wiring diagrams. If you are a resident of the state of Alabama, you should be able to access this database without a login and password. If you have difficulty connecting, visit your local public library for login information.
    • Chilton & Mitchell Repair Manuals: Covers such concerns as general maintenance, fuel system, engine overhaul, engine or chassis electrical, and suspension and steering. Some manuals are available for check out. Search the HMCPL Online Catalog under the name of your car make. A set of Mitchell manuals is available at the Reference Department at the Main Library.

    Buy or Lease?

    It's the age-old question for car buyers: Buy or Lease? Below are some articles and online resources to help guide your decision.


    SmartMoney - Lease or Buy a Car? Calculator

    SmartMoney details the PROs and CONs for both and provides questions to ask yourself about the purchase. The calculator allows you to input the specific details of your purchase, and it will generate a recommendation.

    Instantly compare car lease and auto finance offers from top lenders. The site allows you to apply online. They also list rankings and comparison charts for the most requested vehicle, diesel cars, and hybrid cars.

    Magazine Articles

    The following articles are available through the Alabama Virtual Library. If you live in Alabama, you should be able to link directly to the full-text articles. If you have trouble viewing these articles, obtain a username and password from your local Alabama public library.

    "It's a Good Time to Lease" by Jessica Anderson. Kiplinger's Personal Finance, November 2010: 86.

    For a given monthly payment consumers can often get a higher-quality car via a lease rather than a purchase. Web sites exist that let consumers prematurely get our of their leases by selling them.

    "Ally Financial's New Plan Lets Buyers Sell Back Vehicles" by Steve Finlay. Ward's Dealer Business 1 Dec. 2011.

    The program allows consumers to own a vehicle with a fixed rate and payment, but hold an option to sell it to Ally after 48 months at a predetermined rate using residual forecasts.

    ChiltonLibrary - Auto Repair Database

    This database is available for free for all Huntsville-Madison County Public Library card holders. You may access directly if you are using a library computer in one of our twelve branch locations.

    To access remotely:

    • Visit the HMCPL home page at
    • In the top left-hand corner, click on "My Digital Library."
    • Enter your library card number and four digit PIN.
    • Scroll down until you see the list of databases. Click on ChiltonLibrary.
    • Then click "Proceed."

    Using ChiltonLibrary

    This tutorial demonstrates the features of ChiltonLibrary auto repair database.

    Length: 3:12 minutes