Tech Tips: How to use Consumer Reports

By Rose Barnes, Health & Senior Services Librarian

Are you thinking about buying a new car, appliance, gadget, or literally anything else, but feeling overwhelmed or not sure where to start?

Consumer Reports is designed to help you navigate all of the options and narrow down products based on consumer tests and reviews. Their goal is to create a fair and just marketplace for all.

With your Oak Park library card and PIN, you can access all of these features of Consumer Reports:

  • Unlimited access to unbiased ratings and reviews for over 8,500 products and services.
  • Test scores on performance, safety, and reliability.
  • Shopping advice to save you money and time.
  • Expert buying guides and how-to videos.
  • The latest news on recalls, health, money, and food.

Ready to get started? Follow these simple steps!

1. Log in to Consumer Reports

You can access Consumer Reports in just a few clicks:

  1. You must visit the library’s Consumer Reports page or enter in your URL bar to log in.
  2. Take a moment to watch the informational video on the page, which will explain how to log in with your Oak Park library card and PIN.
  3. Click the Consumer Reports » link at the top of the page (pictured below).
  4. Enter your Oak Park library card number and PIN when prompted. (You do not need to enter your library card information when using a computer inside an Oak Park library location.)
Screenshot #1: Consumer Reports page at

2. How to navigate Consumer Reports

Starting a search & browsing

In Consumer Reports, you can search for products in the search bar or browse clickable categories (both options pictured below).

Screenshot #2: Consumer Reports main menu with a search bar and clickable categories.

Let’s use dishwashers as an example. You can either search for dishwashers by typing “dishwashers” in the search bar or use the Appliances drop-down menu (pictured below) and click on Dishwashers (highlighted below).

Screenshot #3: Consumer Reports main menu expanded with Dishwashers highlighted.

Navigating the topic or item menu

Once you find your topic or item, you can toggle between Ratings & Reliability, Recommended, and the Buying Guide (all options pictured below). I recommend starting with the buying guide and then looking at the recommendations.

Screenshot #4: Dishwashers page main menu.

Exploring the buying guide

The buying guide will walk you through what to consider when buying a dishwasher such as the size, price, finish and design, features, brands, and much more.

Reviewing the recommendations

When you are ready to look at recommendations, notice that each product has a score, which is broken down and explained on each product page (pictured below). 

Screenshot #5: Overall score rating for a dishwasher, plus a breakdown of different elements of the score: washing, predicted reliability, energy use, and drying.

Additionally, for the dishwasher example, Predicted Reliability and Owner Satisfaction are listed, as well as features, prices, and buying links (pictured below). 

Screenshot #6: Predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings listed by brand.
Screenshot #7: A list of features and specs for the dishwasher.
Screenshot #8: A list of prices at various stores, with links to click to shop. Note: When you shop using the links provided, Consumer Reports may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees collected support their nonprofit mission.

3. Start your own search & comparison

Consumer Reports can be used to research and compare various products. While I used a dishwasher in this post, the product options are vast and the information within each product page can vary in scope. The car guides, for example, are very comprehensive and informative.

4. Have questions? We can help!

About Rose

Rose is an Adult Services Librarian specializing in health and senior services. She is a passionate reader, baker, and explorer who is always planning her next adventure.