Claying your Car
I sometimes wonder what detailers did before the CLAY BAR was invented? I know there are complicated multi step decontamination products out there, (not very well know) but even those can’t match the clay bar in my opinion because if you have tar on your paint, you still need to use a clay bar to get rid of them. Sometimes when I least expect it, I come across a vehicle that is so dirty, that it eats up a whole clay bar. If you are not familiar with claying, or you have never used one, I can tell you that it is amazing to see the amount of contamination that these bars pull off. I want to make sure that you understand that “dirt” that comes off, is coming off a freshly washed vehicle, that is visibly clean. This stuff has embedded into the paint awhile back.
Look at that dirt – came from this area underneath the bar, I’d say 1/3rd of the hood. You can see the straight lines I clayed. Just amazing.
Guess why? Lack of protection on the paint. Cars that are not waxed regularly are dirty! Really dirty. Of course these same cars are the ones that are taken to get “Express Details” or “Wash and Wax” treatments. Do you know what happens? Let’s examine “Wash & Wax” first:
Obviously, the car is washed and dried. Most of the time, the wax is nothing more than a spray wax that will provide just enough protection until the next wash. That is if the wax can actually adhere to the paint. However if your paint has not been clayed in a while or the shop skips the step, imagine how well your paint is protected. As far as I know, sealants and waxes have a very hard time bonding with dirt. The Wash & Wax may have been a bargain, but in this case you didn’t get what you paid for.
Express Detail: Not all of them, but most detail shops skip claying, unless they can up sell you. In an express detail, you get a wash, dry, 1 step polish and a wax, or just a cleaner wax. Your Polishing, especially with a machine will remove a lot of contamination, but if you went back over it with a clay bar, you will still remove a lot of dirt. Claying is one of the most important steps in detailing. Never want to skip it. Imagine how long your car will look detailed. Not long at all. Back to the detail shop for more. No wonder so many people detail their own cars nowadays. Car owners are getting more and more educated about proper car care. I am glad to see it.
So lets talk about clay itself.
All one needs to know is that there are 3 grades available. Light, Medium and Aggressive. They come in many colors, but one can’t identify them by their colors, except for the aggressive one. Those are usually purple, or burgundy in color. You will see blue, yellow, gray, green, white – these will be either medium or light. You need to read the direction to find out.
99% of the time, I use an aggressive clay bar because I don’t have the luxury to take extra time to decontaminate. If you do clay and clay often, than naturally use a gentle or medium grade bar because the contamination should and will be light.
As a side note: please, always polish after you claying, as clay is abrasive. Even a light polish will eliminate clay induced marring. Naturally, wax or seal after polishing.
When claying make sure to use a proper lubricant. Highly recommend any of these: