Shipping your GTO – how to do it right – guest article by Ben Leffler

Comprehensive Automotive Shipping

auto shipping pic #1Whether you have purchased an everyday vehicle remotely or are sending it across the country for a competition, the condition upon arrival is always a concern. Nothing is worse than damage to your car that you didn’t even cause. It’s true that professional shippers are experienced and reliable most of the time, but accidents do happen and therefore anything you can do to minimize your risk is a good idea. The following will discuss important options to consider when choosing a transporter, as well as outline some simple steps to help reduce the chances of your vehicle being damaged while in transport.

When beginning the process of choosing a moving company for your vehicle, it is important to explore which kind of trailer is your best option. While tractor trailers that are capable of moving several vehicles at once are usually the cheapest option, it tends to take longer than single car transport. Also, due to the large size of these trucks you may have to meet your driver in a parking lot. Single car transporters can usually pick the vehicle up and drop it off in a residential area and may be able to get all the way to your front door. Your time frame and budget should be considered when weighing these two options.

auto shipping image #2Enclosed versus open trailer transport is another thing to consider. Once again, this should be discussed with your service provider to determine the best option for you. Closed trailers protect a vehicle from the elements at all times, but they can be twice as expensive as the open-air variety. For shorter distances in mild weather an open trailer may be best, but if you’re heading northeast during winter it may not, it just depends on the circumstances.

With so many shipping companies to choose from, finding one that services your area should not be a problem. However, before you hand over the keys you should make sure that the carrier is registered with the Department of Transportation. To do so, visit and look up the company to make sure they are licensed to ship vehicles. From the same site you will also be able to check the company’s insurance information and compare it with the information that the company provides you when they quote you a price. Make sure that the policy is valid and that the coverage is sufficient before moving on. If you feel that the minimum policy provided to be lacking in any way, feel free to inquire about additional coverage.

Once you have determined that a shipping company is legal and insured, inquire about customer references. These provide proof of the shipper’s experience and competence, so they should be eager to share these with you. Also, be sure that at least some of the references are specific to vehicles similar to yours. You can also look up the company with Better Business Bureau for additional information on their history and records. Many companies are starting to offer free shipment tracking which allows you to go online and check the exact location of your vehicle at any time, so this is something you may want to inquire about.

Once you have chosen a carrier, it is time to prepare your vehicle to be transported. Keep in mind that different companies may require additional steps to be taken, especially if your vehicle is rare or extremely customized, but this should get you started.

Clean it out

auto shipping image #3The first step is to clean out the vehicle’s interior and the trunk. This not only ensures that your personal items will not be lost, but it also helps protect the auto’s inside. Loose stuff left in a vehicle on a trailer can bounce around and ding up seats and upholstery, as well as be damaged itself. Worst of all, a carrier’s insurance will not be liable. If there is something you prefer to keep in the vehicle, be sure that it is secured in a compartment or the glove box. At this point you should make sure that any aftermarket speakers are firmly held in place and stereo faceplates are removed.

Clean it off

Now that the inside is prepped, your vehicle’s exterior is the focus. Carefully wash and inspect for any existing damage. While this step applies less for a clunker than a new ride, it’s always better to know what shape the auto is in. Photograph all sides of the car and give a dated, written assessment. If you are dealing with insurance issues after damage, this step will make the process a lot easier.

auto shipping image #4Once the exterior has been cleaned and examined, all removable exterior parts that can possibly be broken while on the trailer should be secured or removed. Fold in the mirrors to the vehicle’s sides, lower the antenna and raise the windows. Convertible tops should be securely closed, and tool boxes shut and latched.

Check it out

Even though an automobile will only be driven off and on to a trailer during the shipping process, it is necessary to make sure that it is in operable condition beforehand.

auto shipping image #5While in-depth automotive knowledge is not necessary to check the battery, the tire pressure and fluid levels, your neighborhood service station or dealership can help out if needed. Alert the mover if you have been experiencing any particular problems, and make sure that they are aware of any leaks that could drip onto another vehicle. You should also disable the car’s alarm and make sure there is sufficient fuel in the tank. You want to keep the gas tank at around an eighth to a quarter full. There needs to be some, but more than that is just extra weight.

Finally, if you are unsure about anything throughout the process, feel free to ask your carrier questions.

Written by Ben Leffler of, an online marketplace for Vehicle Shipping.

Police blotter – Ex-wife steals GTO, is on the run

(from a press release)

MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2009





RESIDES: Northeast-El Paso, TX

DOB: 06-08-67

HEIGHT: 5’07″

WEIGHT: 180 lbs.

HAIR: Black

EYES: Brown


Denver, Colorado


Scars on face / Right Shoulder / Back

The Manhunt is on for ALVINA LISA BELFORD.

BELFORD is wanted for the OFFENSE of:


FEBRUARY 2009- BELFORD took her ex-husbands 2006 Pontiac GTO without his consent while he was out of town. The couple had not been together for several years. BELFORD took the vehicle while visiting her daughter who lives with her father (BELFORD’s ex-husband). As the daughter went to another room & returned a short time later, BELFORD & the vehicle were gone.

A few days later, EPPD Officers patrolling the 8600 block of Lawson located BELFORD & the stolen vehicle in a parking lot. As EPPD officers approached, BELFORD attempted to start the ignition of the stolen vehicle in a desperate attempt to flee. BELFORD was arrested for UNAUTHORIZED USE OF VEHICLE & an outstanding criminal warrant for THEFT. BELFORD bonded out of jail late February 2009.

MARCH 2009- Due to her recent arrest, BELFORD has violated the terms of her Probation & is now wanted for PROBATION VIOLATION / UNAUTHORIZED USE OF VEHICLE.

BELFORD knows she is wanted and remains on the run eluding capture from Law Enforcement. Information received indicates BELFORD remains in the El Paso area.

BELFORD is the 2nd female ever to be featured on MANHUNT MONDAY.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts or has seen ALVINA LISA BELFORD or other fugitives featured on “MANHUNT MONDAY” is urged to call Crime Stoppers of El Paso at 915-566-TIPS (8477). Callers will remain anonymous & may be eligible for a reward if the information provided leads to the apprehension of the individuals featured.

David Permut steers DeLorean biopic

Filmmaker teams with Steve Lee Jones on film
John DeLorean
David Permut is getting into gear for a biopic of maverick auto exec John Z. DeLorean, with Steve Lee Jones also producing through his Bee Holder Prods.
Jones has secured life rights from the late DeLorean’s longtime attorney, Mayer Morganroth.
The film will chronicle DeLorean’s rise and fall, starting with his work as a young exec VP at General Motors, where he developed the Pontiac GTO and Firebird, and the creation of his own company and the DeLorean DMC-12 car — later featured in the “Back to the Future” films. DeLorean’s downfall came when was arrested in 1982 on charges of drug trafficking to help his faltering auto company. He was freed two years later after a court ruled he was a victim of government entrapment.
Permut Presentations VP Steve Longi will co-produce.
Permut is in post-production on “Youth in Revolt” for Dimension. He also produced documentary “The Boys,” which Disney is releasing this year.
Jones is in post-production with Foundation Films on director Matthew Galkin’s doc “Kevorkian,” about Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s bid for a congressional seat.

What about Bob Lutz?

Bob LutzWhat about Bob Lutz? – by Chuck, submitted by Billy

In early February 2009, we learned that Bob Lutz, GM’s internal Car Czar, will step down later in the year. Lutz has had his share of swings and misses, and has more than his share of fans and critics. But his legacy at The General should be judged as much by what he prevented than by what he accomplished.

When Lutz joined GM in 2001, one of the first things he did was review every product project under development, in order to get an idea what was in the oven, what was hot, and what was not. What he found was an Aztek behind every door.

He quickly went about killing the turkeys, and delaying a few other things so he could work them around a bit. When shown one particular sports car, he reputedly asked “What’s that” He was told “that’s the new C6 corvette!” His reply, according to one source, was “Oh no it’s not…”

Lutz pushed for more expressive design, and higher quality interiors. If you like cars such as the Malibu, Aura, and current-gen CTS, thank Bob. If you think the Volt is a significant accomplishment, thank Bob. If you enjoy your Solstice or Sky, imperfect though they are, thank Bob. And I certainly appreciate that he gave us the 2004-06 Pontiac GTO, which led to one of my current faves, the G8 GXP. He also peeled off a lot of plastic body cladding along the way.

We’ll never know how many bad ideas Lutz kept from becoming reality, but I’m confident there were many. Every ill-conceived project he killed or redirected is nearly as important as every successful one he was behind. Because the last thing any car company needs is to be its own worst enemy. Many of them — GM perhaps at the head of the class — have done enough of that.

The classic GTOs that got away

The classic GTOs that got away – by Sean Mattingly

Many times life with throw a GTO owner a curve and he will find himself (gasp!) GTO-less! Here are some stories to inspire you to get your old GTO back. Or maybe you will decide to hold onto your current car with an iron fist.

silver 1964 GTO

David Keim (seen above) wants this silver 1964 GTO back. Does anyone know where this car ended up? David says, “I ran out of money for school and joined the Army. I put my Father in charge of my car (big mistake). While I was over in Germany, he put it on a U-store-it lot and then never paid rent. By the time I got back (1987) they had sold it and it was nowhere to be found. I have spent every minute since wondering where it was or what had happened to it. I would love to see a picture of it finished and on the road or better yet get my hands back on it. I go to this website everyday and look over the 64’s dreaming that one day I will see or read about someone buying my car. I won’t keep dragging this story out. I am sure you hear stuff like this all the time. No VIN #, no title, no insurance, no keys. I [now] live in Illinois. I am trying to get a hold of an old friend in Riverside, California to get the name and location of the U-store-it that sold the car. Odd side note: my Dad stored my car and a car he built – a 1978 Town & Country station wagon on a 4×4 Suburban frame at the same place. Both were sold for past due bills.”
Multiple photos of the car can be seen at

John's old 1964 GTO

John C in New Jersey is looking for his old Teal 1964 GTO. John tells us this story, “I picked this car up in Central Jersey back in 1988. It was a 4-speed Tri-Power car. Only Power steering. The best part about this Goat was that is was dent and rust free. No numbers match on drive train though. Sad part was I had to trade it a few months later for financial reasons and I already had two other GTO’s I was building at the time. It’s been over 12 years now since I have seen it. I lost track of it when the guy I traded it to moved. I tryed to buy it back from him two years later when I found out he was moving, but he didn’t want to sell. Then I found out two years after he moved, he sold the Goat to someone else. I was just wondering if this Goat is still out there somewhere.”

It is the only photo we have of the car at

Jerry's old 1965 GTO

Jerry Hamilton in Georgia is looking for his old red 1965 GTO. At one time, he cared well for this Montero Red 1965 GTO hardtop. Jerry asks, “I bought this car in 1984 and did a frame-off resto in 1985. It won its class at the GTOAA Nats in 1987 (with Rally Is). I sold it in the mid 90s to a Michigan classic car dealer and lost count of it. Anyone know its whereabouts today?”

The one photo on file, and Jerry’s email address, is located at

Wayne's old 1969 GTO

Wayne Blackburn (pictured above) wants his first car back, a Verdoro Green 1969 GTO. The vintage photo is from 1980. He is looking for it again. Wayne tells us more, “I would like to hopefully buy it back. Here’s how it was built: Verdoro green (not Midnight Green – some pictures are dark) on green buckets, console, 400ci/350hp, M-20 4-speed, factory air, but NO power steering, power brakes or power locks from factory. I am not sure on the gauges. I last saw it in Florida, Port Richey area, in 1982 and lost track of it then. I was told it was painted white around 1982. I don’t have, and can NOT get the VIN as I tried everything. I added a ’69 AM-FM and 8-track to it. I also painted grilles black. There is a generous finders fee for info leading to or top dollar for right car. Please check your PHS….. Thanks. I really would love to have it back. It was probably originally sold at Crown Pontiac or Wes Harris Pontiac.”

There are a few photos of the car posted at

Ralph Law's old 1965 GTO

Ralph Law in California wants his first new car back, a Cypress Green 1965 GTO convertible with a stripe. It was Picture Of The Week 5/17/98 on The vintage image was emailed in by Linda Hilton. The former owner, Ralph Law, tells us this story:

A long time lady friend of mine, Linda Hilton, who I have known since high school sent you the picture of my 1965 GTO that you have so nice presented as this week’s cover car. This was my first new car purchased with my own earnings when I was 21. I added headers and a racing cam, plus a few other extras. I ran 13 second 1/4 miles! Got several trophies at the drag strips in Wisconsin. When I raced it, I put on the slicks. It was special ordered due to the color which is Cypress Green. Cypress Green was not a Pontiac offered color, rather it was one of the colors for Chevrolet. I loved the color and they painted it at the factory.

Linda e-mailed me and suggested I look at your site. What a surprise when I saw it. I received many citations from law enforcement personnel. One night, I got six tickets! I used to taunt the police and peel away near them or spray them with gravel and they could not catch me. However, one night, I raced it continuoulsy through several Chicago suburbs. Thinking I had lost them all, I quietly pulled into the driveway of a friend. Suddenly, multiple police spot lights were upon me. To this day, I still aggravate police but with my mountain bike and roller blades in Walnut Creek, CA. Although am 54 now, I have always been a runner and a bike nut. Thus, I go where I am not supposed to, the hills in the open space area, and downtown where cops have noting to do but hassle teens for skateboarding and roller blading. I wrote a letter to the chief and said if they could catch me, I would donate a $1,000 to their police association. So far, no pay outs!

The GTO was wonderful and I am fortunate that it didn’t kill me. Later, in mid 30′s, I was able to afford a new Porsche. The Porsche was my favorite of almost 60 cars I’ve owned. However, the 65′ GTO is my second favorite, and I had six Corvettes, and some other nice cars.

If someone e-mails you and says they have the car, please let me know.”

It is the only photo we have of the car so far at

The tales of long-lost GTOs are frequent. If you wonder what powerful feelings of loss are like, hang out at a car show and listen to the stories of “the one that got away”. Some guys get over the loss by buying a different classic car…moving on with life. Others keep looking for their first GTO, checking the ditches, walking through junkyards, poring through classified ads, looking in backyards in their old hometowns, keeping a vigilant eye to the road’s horizon.

Do you have any tales of a car that you lost and then got back again? Leave some comments, below.

Or send in old car photos on the Self-Upload page at

GM Heritage car collection for SALE

by Sean Mattingly, webmaster of

Starting in January, the classic car collection at GM will start to go bye-bye. The manager of the GM Heritage Center, Tom Freiman, has revealed that the company plans to significantly “thin the herd”.

The collection, based in Sterling Heights, Michigan currently numbers about 1,000 vehicles. The first of two auctions will happen at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona January 13th to 18th, 2009. Some of their vehicles will be up for bids April 9th to 11th, 2009 at Barrett-Jackson in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The GM Heritage Collection numbers in the many hundreds of cars and trucks – from “first builts” and “last builts” to one-off show cars to SEMA show cars. The first-built 2004 Pontiac GTO is in the collection. This is the first one actually built in production.

Built by Hollywood car builder Eddie Paul, using a custom Blueberry Blass paint. The dashboard features all sorts of lights, switches and gadgets.

The January sale will include several GTOs.  This customized hardtop 1967 Pontiac GTO will be sold.  It was used in the action movie “xXx” starring Vin Diesel. Built by Hollywood car builder Eddie Paul, using a custom Dupont Chromalusion BlasBerry paint. The dashboard features all sorts of lights, switches and gadgets.

Some vehicles in the auctions may include these Pontiacs which are in the collection:
1926 Pontiac (Gray/Black)
1968 Pontiac Catalina (White)
1969 Pontiac GTO (Green)
1969 Pontiac GTO Judge (Orange/Yellow)
1980 Pontiac Grand Am Pickup
1994 Firebird Lingenfelter 383
1999 Grand Am SCT
2003 Sunfire X-plores (Yellow)
2006 Solstice DTP (Orange)
1967 GTO hardtop from the movie “xXx”
1984 Fiero GT 2+2
1986 Firebird Trans Am Kamback
1987 Fiero GT Convertible
1991 Firebird Trans Am Twin Turbo
1993 Firebird IMSA Race car
1994 Firebird Firmula V8
1994 Firebird Trans Am 25th Ann.
1998 Firebird Trans Am Gold Rush
1998 Firebird Trans Am X-plorers
1998 Grand Prix M&M Pace
2000 Bonneville Salt Flats
2000 Firebird Rytek Project
2000 Firebird Trans Am Darth Vader
2001 Aztek First Built (Black)
2001 Aztek Pace #1 (Red)
2001 Aztek SRV
2002 Firebird Trans Am Daytona Pace #2
2003 Grand AM Autocross
2003 Vibe Autocross Sema
2003 Vibe FX
2004 Grand Prix GXP SEMA
2005 Firedbird Trans Am Collectors Ed.
2006 Solstice Red Bull Drifter
2006 Solstice Weekend Racer
Fiero Goodwrench Race
G6 Rolex Pace Car
Grand Am #85 race car
Grand Prix (show car)
GTO Drag Performance Parts car
Firebird Mobil Race Car
1999 Grand Prix GT (red)
GTP Ultrlite

The “Insider’s Blog” becomes “Inside Track”

by Sean Mattingly, Webmaster of
Today Sean moved the blog in-house for a better layout. No longer hosted externally on, the name was also changed. The Insider’s Blog changed to Inside Track. Sean comments on the change,

I like the look of the new blog better now. You know, most people don’t know what a ‘blog’ is anyway and don’t relate to the silly-sounding word ‘blog’. It’s just a place to post GTO news. Now we call it ‘Inside Track’

Mattingly was questioned on the financial ramifications of making such a move away from his affiliation with the large site (which is owned by mammoth Google) and commented,

I didn’t like the silly google ads at the tops of the pages. Those goofy bastards would run ads for Dodge minivans and sex pills at the tops of the pages. They can suck eggs! Besides, if anyone is going to make a penny off of each Viagra tablet sold, it should be ME!

Describing the long-term goals of the new Inside Track, Mattingly says,

It will continue to be a place where Pontiac GTO fans can learn about new developments in the hobby. I’ll post those news-y items here. And I’ll still post photo-y items on the main section of like I’ve been doing since late 1963.

But, sir, that was two years before you were even born.

Uhmm, right, but I had a computer anyway.

That makes no sense, especially since the Internet wasn’t invented until decades later.

Who knows who really invented the Internet. There are some ideas about that on wikipedia. But hey, it’s on wikipedia, where anyone can edit their own name into the articles anytime they want.

What enhancements might we see on your blog in the future?

Stop calling it a ‘blog’!!!

Oh, sorry. What enhancements will we be seeing on the Inside Track Blog?

It’s no longer a ‘BLOG’! Quit calling it a ‘blog’ for gosh sakes!

What enh…

You will be seeing a brighter and bolder layout. There will be more frequent postings of newsworthy significance by myself and guest bloggers, uhh, umm, strike that. Call them guest Inside Trackers posting news concerning the ultimate muscle car, the Pontiac GTO.

The new Inside Track is accessed through the main page of or directly at . Sean Mattingly can be contacted by emailing or by leaving comments to this article, below.

See the 1969 Judge movie called "Sex Drive"

Review by Sean Mattingly, webmaster of

I just came back from watching “Sex Drive” [TRAILER HERE], the new movie that showcases a Carousel Red 1969 GTO Judge. Unlike most modern flicks that have a muscle car in them, this movie actually SHOWS the muscle car throughout.

This is not your typical review, poring over such boring things as the director’s name or his credentials. The movie basically stars a teenage punk what’s-his-name and his big bully brother who-cares-what-his-name-was. For me, the movie experience was all about the CAR! As soon as little brother gets his hands on the keys, the hilarity ensues.

The little brother and his friend and some black-haired chick with annoyingly crooked teeth head for a road trip. The car is an object of desire on a trip to get laid. Sounds like a few dates I’ve had. All the while, you know the movie teens will have the typical adventure elements thrown their way. There’s the engine-revving, the speeding, some wreckless driving, avoiding roadside obstacles, hitting a possum. There’s even a scene with the Judge driving crazy through a cornfield.

Hardcore Judge fanatics won’t be disappointed by this movie. You get to see the full exterior of the car often. There are many interior scenes as well, showing off the black Morrokide and the lovely black headliner. The hood tach is shown briefly as the engine revs. Even the engine compartment is seen, with all the main characters “working” on the car to try and solve an overheating problem by pissing in the radiator. Really? Really. As far as the soundtrack of the vintage Judge, I found all the engine sounds unsatisfying. It didn’t sound like a Pontiac engine to me. The car had the sound of what might have been the soundman’s 1980′s truck with a bad muffler. Big whoop.

Like any muscle car romp at the hands of an inexperienced teenager, there is bound to be some damage that made me cringe. They drove the car across some medians at high speed. They did a little jump out of a field that got air and landed the Judge on a country road with surprisingly no visual damages. The heartbreaker was near the end when the Judge gets “tapped” in the door by a dumbass Larry The Cable Guy-type dude driving a pickup truck into the side of it. Never fear, the car gets fixed in the end.

If you’re looking to judge the Judge’s factory correctness, you have plenty of opportunities to look at this shiny orange car. All that bugged me was the grille. Rather than being painted black, it seemed to be a silvery gray. In one shot under the hood, it appeared that the radiator hose was held on by an oversize adaptor hose of some sort. The underside of the hood was not painted black as I think it should have been. It was Carousel Red. If you can spot other non-factory irregularities, please comment below.

Here’s how I rate “Sex Drive”. It gets 5 stars out of 5 for muscle car content. It ranks even higher because in some scenes, they leave a foreign tuner car playing the fool. I give it 5 stars for raunchy sex jokes (like Porky’s) and dirty sight gags and a required flash of boobs. Brief, but nice boobs! I would have deducted a few stars if they had treated the car badly. Throughout the movie, I suspected it would be driven off a cliff and/or blown up at the end. Not so. Whew! This is a must-see movie for muscle car fans. Round up you car club buddies and go see it.

12 year anniversary of

In the early days of the internet, there was not much to look at. Searching for GTOs online, there were just a few guys that had figured out how to scan a photo and post it to an ISP’s personal web space. My, how we have grown since 1996! started out as a personal page on a local Indianapolis-area ISP called Iquest. At that time the website began being called “The Ultimate GTO Picture Site”. Because of the long name, some people abbreviated that TUGTOPS. It was primarily a place for photos of the 1968 and 1969 GTO. Then it expanded to cover all years of GTOs, Lemans, Tempest, etc. Later, the website moved to its own server and got its own URL of

In the summer of 2008, during the 12-year anniversary, I asked visitors on the main page of to tell me how many years they’ve been visiting.

Eric Tewald was first to respond,
“I’ve been visiting this site for just over 11 years. I discovered it my junior year in high school and it’s been my home page since I got out of the Army and got my first laptop. Nothing like opening the web and seeing what the news feed on your site has added. Keep up the good work and keep the pics rolling.”

Steven Whatley responded, attaching a photo of his car,
“I found the website in 2000. I visit it daily (when at work…”

Keith Maher was next, reminding me to post his newest photos,

“I have been here since posting my 2005 gto in the year 2006. Now just waitiing for my new post to show GTO 2006 sent in last month.Great site.”

Timster said,
“Sean, congratulations on your 12 years! I have been using your web site for 5 years. Strong work!”

Pat Lehouillier (aka goat_nut) wrote in,

“I purchased my car in 2001 so I have been here at least that long. Great sight. It’s good to see there are so many GTO/Lemans/Tempest fans out there. I’ll be here as long as the sight is up. Keep up the good work.”

Jeff Klein, my primary website helper sent a note,
“10 years for me. Found the site in 1998 and started helping late in 1999. Didn’t really get good programs working well until 2001 when we got all the years thumbnailed and databased. Early on, only the 68 and 69 model years had thumbnails. We had about 4,000 pictures once they were all thumbnailed. Now we have 4x that. What a trip it has been.”

Bill sent in a photo of his car and a quick note,
“10 Years. Keep up the great work!”

Thanks to website visitors contributing photographs of their cars, the website will continue to grow. Sometime this year, we’ll hit 16,000 photos – all indexed and searchable by year, color, options, etc.

-Sean Mattingly, webmaster

Which type of car wax is best?

Ever wonder which car waxes make the grade and which don’t? Or if, in fact, a car wax is really necessary for that sparkling shine? A recent study by Consumer Reports reveals the truth behind car waxes and weighs in on the products that outperform others — Black Magic and Turtle Wax.

Out of more than two dozen liquid, paste and spray car waxes, Black Magic Wet Shine Liquid Wax and Turtle Wax Carnauba Car Wax T-6 tied with “excellent” overall scores. Both products sell nationally for around $7 a piece.

A total of 28 different brands of car wax were tested, including 16 liquid waxes, five pastes, and seven spray-on, wipe-off products. The waxes ranged in price from about $5 to $32.

Consumer Reports found that the liquid waxes generally provide the best combination of cleaning and protection. But contrary to conventional wisdom, they required more effort than paste waxes to apply and remove. As a group, liquids were the hardest to apply evenly, and they took the most time to buff out.

Some also left a powdery residue that had to be wiped off. Even the top-rated Black Magic Liquid Wet Shine Liquid Wax required an extra bit of buffing to eliminate any streaking. The other best all-around choice, Turtle Wax Carnauba Car Wax T-6, can cause slight scratching or hazing on newer dark-colored finishes.

What about pricier waxes favored by auto enthusiasts? They don’t necessarily work better than some less-expensive brands. The two top performers cost just $7, while a product selling for $32, P21S Concours-Look Carnauba Wax, ranked no better than mid-pack.

Among the four paste waxes tested, the Nu Finish NFP-80 ($8) outscored its competitors with a “Very Good” score. Tied for the best spray product was Eagle One Wax-As-You-Dry ($6) and Turtle Wax 1 Step Wax & Dry T-9 ($6), both with a “good” score. Turtle Wax Platinum Series Ultra Gloss T-413R came in just behind the two top-rated sprays.

How to Select the Right Car Wax

* Liquid waxes are good for cleaning, gloss, and durability. But they can be more difficult to apply evenly and buff out. Most dry to a haze within about a minute, but this varies with wind, sunlight, and thickness of application.

* Paste waxes are good for easy application. Overall performance is not as good as with liquids. It can be difficult to remove wax from the container as you near the bottom. Paste waxes usually dry to a haze within 30 seconds.

* Spray waxes are good for new cars with excellent finishes since new paint is still shiny and shouldn’t be oxidized. They are also good for consumers looking for convenience, plastic compatibility, and spot waxing. They are quick to apply and many can be wiped off without drying. But they are not as good for cleaning and are the worst for durability.

How car waxes are tested
Overall scores for the waxes are based primarily on gloss; durability; ease of use; cleaning; resistance to scratching, swirls and hazing; and plastic compatibility.

Consumer Reports tested using sample panels uniformly finished with white or black automotive paint, both with and without clear coat. Some were left to weather for 12 months on the roof of CR’s National Test Center in Yonkers, NY and others were put into a device that simulates extreme weather conditions. The panels were brought into a lab weekly, where technicians washed and dried them, and applied drops of water to measure beading effect. How well a wax causes water to bead, or repel water, is one way to determine whether wax still provides protection from acid rain and contaminants. To test for ease of use and how well products worked to clean and improve gloss on fading paint, CR used real vehicles, some of which had rarely or never been waxed.

To assess gloss, CR did side-by-side visual comparisons. For durability tests, CR tracked how the water beaded to show how quickly the wax wore away. Cleaning and scratching-hazing tests also relied on side-by-side visual comparisons. For ease of use, CR used cars owned by staffers.

(Source: Car Care Council)