The power of the clay bar is often overlooked by many detailers, both beginners and professionals. A lot of people don’t even know of its existence but once you have used one correctly I can almost guarantee that it will become part of your exterior cleaning regime, and in this article I will be showing you how to use clay bar on a car and you will finally be able to get those show room results.
What if I told you that with all of those hours you have spent washing, drying, polishing and then waxing your car still hasn’t been as clean as it can be.
What if I told you that by adding an extra hours work before polishing your end result can be twice the result you are used to getting.
Clay bar is extremely effective and it can dramatically take your cars exterior from an okay small garage job to a professional show car level of definition and shine.
What Is Clay Bar?
Classically, clay bar is a man made resin mixture used to remove contaminants such as brake dust, tar, bugs, railway dust and industrial fallout to name just a few.
You may notice some of these contaminants as they look like little “black heads” on your paint work and no matter how much you try to scratch it off, they won’t be going anywhere. Of course, not unless you get yourself a clay bar and wipe out these contaminants that have plagued your well maintained paintwork for too long.
Power washing, rain and polishing cannot remove these contaminants as they are embedded into your paintwork. As you will notice, the clay is extremely elastic and it can be stretched, rolled, flattened, twisted, cut and made into whatever size you need for every section of your car.
How Does Clay Bar Work?
Once the section of the car you are claying has been adequately lubricated and the clay is molded into a circle, it is then glided along the surface, its sticky texture means that while you are gliding it back and forth along your paint it is picking up any little particle of contamination it glides over,
the contaminants simply stick to the clay.
How Often Should I Use Clay Bar?
In most cases two times a year is more than enough to keep your car as decontaminated as it possibly can be, however if you live close to railway tracks or you frequently drive over or near them you can find yourself claying three times a year to keep the paint in pristine condition.
The best way to tell if your car is in need of a clay bar is to get your car washed and run your finger along the paintwork, if is smooth you are in the clear, if you feel it and the paint is rough your car needs the clay bar.
How To Use Clay Bar
Firstly I’d just like to start by telling you what you’re going to need for these steps:
- 1 x Clay Bar
- 1 x Microfiber Towel
- 1 x Bottle of Lubricant
I personally use the California Gold Clay Bar kit which I will leave a link for later in the article. With your equipment ready to go let’s get straight into the steps.
Step 1 – Wash your car – make sure you thoroughly wash and dry your vehicle, you cannot attempt to use the clay bar on even slightly dirty paint as you will be at risk of damaging your paint work.
Step 2 – Cut and mold your clay – using a blade or another sharp tool cut a third of the clay bar and mold it into a circle (you may have to use some elbow grease!)
Step 3 – Choose a panel to start with – I like to start at the roof and work my way down from there, once chosen, spray the area generously with the lubricant, spray some lubricant onto your clay bar as well.
Step 4 – Rub the clay back and forth – Rub your clay back and forth across the section you’re working on, spray more lubricant as you feel necessary, it may be slightly difficult and sticky at first but as you keep going and the contaminants are picked up it will glide as smooth as silk, this is how you can tell that the area is finished.
If it is not smooth to touch simply repeat the process until it is.
Step 5 – Keep going until your whole car has been clayed and is now smooth as glass.
You’re finished! Make sure you store the what is left of your clean clay bar either in the original packaging or in a sealed air tight bag, also respray some more lubricant onto the clay bar to keep it moist.
- Do not use soap and water instead of lubricant, I see some people on the internet saying this is a good cheap alternative but it is cheap for a reason, the chemicals in soap take away from the quality of the components of the bar meaning it will not pick up contamination effectively.
- While claying your car make sure you keep the clay and the paint well lubricated.(When it comes to claying, it’s always better to use too much lubricant than too little as you can scratch your paint if it is too dry).
- If you happen to drop the bar on the ground I hate to say this but it cannot be used, the sticky qualities of the clay that make it so useful to us car detailers also works in reverse, meaning the clay will pickup all the dirt from the ground and if you attempt to use this on your car you will cause scrapes, scratches and actually end up rubbing dirt onto your paint.
What Products Work Best?
Most big brand clay bar kits are quite similar but I stay away from home brand products because I feel they are cheap because they are crap. In the past I have used Autoglyms’ kit, Meguairs kit but on my most recent clay day I tried Mothers California Gold Clay Bar Kit.
I would confidently say that the California Gold Clay Bar Kit is the better purchase of the selection of clay bar kits we can choose from, it is cheaper than its rivals like Meguairs and honestly, I find it does a better job. But I’ll leave the choice of kits up to you, my priority is to make you guys into professional claying machines!
Hope this helped!
Congratulations! You should now be well capable of achieving the super slick, glossy shine that the professionals do. Please leave a comment to let me know how you get on I love hearing from you and I am here to help you with any additional questions you might have.
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