When detailing a vehicle, a critical step that is often forgotten is the use of a clay bar. A clay bar detailing uses a clay bar system along with a lubricant or detailing solution to shear away paint contaminants from your paint. These contaminants can not only leave your paint’s finish feeling rough and lacking in luster, and left alone, they may also allow rust to gain a foothold in your finish. To help keep your vehicle looking its best, follow these three easy steps to properly detail your vehicle and protect it from the elements.
1. Examine Your Vehicle’s Finish
While contaminants lying on the surface of your paint can be easily taken care of with a proper washing, a clay bar’s role is removing the various particles and contaminants that lie embedded in the paint itself. These particles are small and often times very hard to see with the naked eye, but they can be felt quite easily. Contaminants embedded in it will feel rough or bumpy, and the paint may not shine as well as it used to, even when freshly washed. A good method for checking for contamination is to use a micro fiber cloth or small piece of plastic wrap. When lightly brushed along the surface of a clean vehicle, the cloth or plastic wrap should glide effortlessly along the surface. Should you encounter any areas when it seems to drag slightly or stick, your finish is in need of a clay bar. 2. Preparing for Clay Bar Detailing
Before you begin detailing your vehicle, it is important to properly prepare your clay bar for use. For routine detailing, you will want to use the finest grade of clay possible. For heavier contaminants, there are heavier grades, but as clay grades become more coarse, so does the potential for paint damage. Before you begin, cut your clay into 3 or 4 pieces. Should you drop your clay, it must be thrown away, so by dividing it, you ensure you will always have clean clay. When you are ready to begin, take a single piece and roll it into a ball and then flatten it in your hand.
3. Claying your Vehicle
When using a clay bar, always use plenty of lubricant. Both quick detailing solutions and clay specific lubricants will work. Liberally spray lubricant on the area you are working on, and while applying light pressure with two or three fingers, move the clay back and forth along the panel you are working on, re-spraying every few passes while making sure to never move in circular motions. You will be able to hear and feel the clay removing contaminants. When you can no longer feel the clay working, dry the area with a micro fiber cloth and move on to the next section. Flip the clay after each section, and fold in half and re-flatten every other section to ensure a clean clay surface.Once you are finished, store your clay in a clean zip-lock bag, and give your vehicle a quick wash and dry to remove any debris and detailer residue. Your vehicle is now ready for waxing.