Using a Clay Bar is the Most Simple, Dramatic Automotive Detailing Process You Can Do To Improve Your Vehicle's Appearance Whether Your Vehicle is a Show Car or a Daily Driver. "Claying" is the First Step in Achieving a "Mirror-Like" Finish!
Do you remember "Silly Putty" when you were a kid? A clay bar is much like a putty substance, only it's very "sticky". When used with a lubricant like quick detail spray wax, you can glide it over the surface and it will remove contaminants from your vehicles finish without being as aggressive as a compound or a polish.
Just like painting a wall, the better the surface you have prior to painting, the better the finished result will look. Using this example, if you do a mediocre job on sanding and smoothing out drywall joints prior to painting you will have a mediocre looking wall. Likewise, if you clay your finish prior to waxing, you will have a more rich, deeper, better looking finish,
Over time, contaminants collect and bond to your finish that washing alone will not remove. Not to worry - it's natural and can't be avoided - even if it is a show car that comes out only in good weather and is kept under cover in the garage.
You can feel some of the contaminants when you rub your hand across the surface and some you can't. Remember, any vehicle's finish is under constant attack from a slew of things including:
Paint Over spray
Tree Sap and Mist
and a Lot More!
Here is a Close Up Look at Contaminants Bonded and Embedded on a Paint Finish:
The good news is that a clay bar will remove bonded contaminants that washing won't.
You don't need any special skills or tools.
It really is so simple that even a 6 year old can do it!
Here is a Close Up How a Clay Bar Removes and Lifts Contaminants from a Paint Finish:
Just about ANY car can benefit from a clay bar. Clay bars work excellent on about any surface, including paint, glass and metal . It's pretty obvious if after washing your car and the finish feels rough when you rub your hand across the surface. Even if it doesn't try this test:
If you think you have a clean surface, take a piece of plastic or a baggie and place it over fingers and rub it across your finish. Even on the majority of pure "Show Cars" you will more than likely feel "bumps" that you couldn't otherwise with your bare fingers. All the plastic baggie did was increase your sensitivity of touch. These are contaminants that are embedded in your finish that you can't see or normally feel with your bare hands.
If you feel any bumps at all from your bare hands or with the baggie test, a clay bar is in order.
After using a clay bar, try the test again and it will feel 'Silky Smooth" and will look 100 times better. Now when you apply wax over the finish, it will look a lot more rich, vibrant and deep. In addition, the wax will help prevent contamination from settling back in the finish.
Click on the Video to Learn How to Use a Clay Bar:
Using a clay bar is really simple! Follow these steps:
1.) Liberally Lube a 2' X 2' Area With Quick Detail Spray Wax Put down a good amount - don't worry about it dripping down the side of the car, it will wipe off. The key is to ensure that you have a nice slippery surface when you glide the clay bar across the surface.
2.) Tear Off a Piece of the Clay Bar and Flatten it Out in Your Hand Once you tear off a piece of the clay bar, put the rest of the clay back in the container and snap it shut. The reason being is that if the clay bar hits the ground, it is so sticky that it will pick up grit and dirt and using it can mar your finish. If you do, throw the dropped piece away and don't use it.
This way if you DO drop the clay on the ground by accident, you haven't wasted the entire clay bar.
3.) Rub the Clay Bar Across Your Lubed 2' X 2' Area - Do NOT Apply Pressure! We all have a natural tendency to apply force when rubbing when we have anything in our hand, Don't apply pressure as you can mar your finish. Let the clay bar do the work! You will feel the clay working as it will glide smoother as it picks up contaminants. Rub in straight lines.
4.) If the Clay Bar Starts to Drag, Apply More Lube! Sometimes you will need to add more quick detail spray wax as you're working the area.
5.) Once Your Done With the Area Wipe Clean with a Microfiber Towel Once you have wiped it dry, rub your fingers across the surface to check for smoothness. Better yet, try the baggie test above to ensure that you have removed contaminants to your satisfaction.
6.) Knead the Clay Bar Into Itself to Get a Fresh Clay Surface Area As you pull contaminants off from your finish, they will become embedded in the clay bar and it will become dirty. Keep kneading the clay bar into itself to present a new, cleaner area for the next section. Once the clay bar becomes completely contaminated, throw it away and tear off a new piece for use.
7.) Once Your Done Put the Clay Bar Back Into the Case and Admire Your Work! Keep your clay bar in the case to keep it moist, flexible and clean of dirt and grime.
Tip: Do a section at a time. Keep it fun - you don't have to clay the entire vehicle at once! Space out your claying endeavors so it doesn't become a chore.
Just like most things, clay bars come in different grades, or levels of aggressiveness. The grade that you select has more to do with:
How Much Contamination is on the Surface
What Type of Contaminants
How Quick the Clay Bar Will Lift the Contaminant From the Surface
The Type of Surface You are Claying (e.g. Paint, Glass or Metal)
Generally speaking, a medium grade clay bar will work best for most claying endeavors. Here's a comparison:
Fine Grade Clay Bars A fine grade clay bar is the most soft and pliable. If you clay your car regularly or have very light contamination that you can only feel with the "baggie test" - this is the bar to use, If you try to remove contamination that you can feel with your bare hands, you will have to make many more passes over the area in order to lift the contamination from the surface.
Medium Grade Clay Bars Medium grade clay bars are firmer and more dense than fine grade clay bars but are still plenty pliable. They will lift contaminants much more quickly, making it easier and faster to do. As well, medium clay bars will do a better job on a wider range of contaminants, where they might be more difficult to remove with a fine grade clay bar.
Heavy Grade Clay Bars Heavy grade clay bars are the most firm and dense, and most pliable in warm temperatures. When you have heavy contamination like heavy over spray this is the bar to use. If you use a heavy grade clay bar on a delicate paint finish, you might have to polish the finish afterwards because it might mar the surface. A heavy grade clay bar is ideal for harder finishes like glass and wheels. Before using a heavy grade clay bar on a painted finish, it is recommended to try a fine or medium grade clay bar first.
Not only will waxing enhance, deepen and enrich the finish now that you have a super clean surface free of contaminants, it will help protect contaminants from getting bonded to the surface in the future. The clay bar will also remove any wax from the surface you just worked on, so it's important to reapply wax after you are done.
Now you can get fast, commercial-quality results by using the same products the "pros" do - and by doing it yourself!