So you wash your car frequently, but are not happy with the result? You can see that in some sections the bodywork, glass or rims are still not clean?
Or maybe you plan to wax or polish the paint and you would really like to get rid of all the dirt from the car? We have a solution for you – clay bar treatment!
What will you need? Basically, only 3 things – a clay bar, a lubricant and a disposable glove. You will learn about its role further down in the article.
What is clay bar treatment and how do you do it?
Claying – in the simplest terms – means thoroughly removing from car paint or other surfaces contaminants such as soot, tree sap, insect remains, tar particles, brake dust, and even rust deposits. A visit to a touchless car wash will not get rid of these hard to remove contaminants. It is the claying process that will help you get rid of them effectively.
What is worth mentioning, claying does not remove scratches, it only extracts dirt from them. Properly done claying does not contribute to the creation of new scratches, so it can be freely applied on the fresh paint of a new car.
Claying also does not reduce the thickness of the car coating, so you can safely repeat it from time to time without fear that it will deteriorate the quality of your car paint.
White glove test
Do you remember a white glove test on TV? You can do a similar test on your car. This will allow you to assess whether the paint is heavily contaminated and a clay bar should be applied.
It is difficult to assess how often you should clay your car – to a large extent it depends on the car’s mileage and the environment in which it is driven. If you park your car in a garage and don’t drive a lot, it will certainly need less frequent claying than a car parked under a tree or used for frequent trips on longer routes.
How to assess whether claying is necessary? The state and condition of the car paint can be assessed in a very simple way, for example with a „white glove test”. How to do it? Put on a disposable glove, for example from a gas station, and gently touch the paint, moving your hand in one direction.
If the glove „catches” on the paint instead of gliding over it smoothly, it is a sign that claying is needed. In this way, you can easily feel all the contaminants that would be difficult to see with the naked eye. Having done the claying, it is worth to perform the test again – then you will notice a noticeable difference, and the paint will be surprisingly smooth to the touch.
Clay bar treatment – what to use and how?
How to prepare the surface of the paint for claying? It should be properly washed with an effective car shampoo and thoroughly dried with a microfiber towel, applying it carefully to the bodywork (avoid wiping!). A thorough car wash is necessary, because the dirt left on the paint could cause scratches during the claying process.
Of course, we will need a clay bar. An important note – store the clay bar at room temperature.
Before working with the clay bar, do not keep it in too low or high temperature, it loses its properties then.
In order to provide good gliding for the clay, it will be necessary to use a kind of lubricant – the so-called quick detailer will be ideal here.
If you do not have it at hand, you can use a solution of water and car shampoo. Definitely avoid dishwashing liquid, which is simply too strong to be used on car paint.
Before commencing work, be sure to remove any jewelry and a watch from your hand. A ring or a wedding ring? It is better to put them away in your pocket while claying. The idea is to minimize the risk of scratches on the paint, which could be caused by such hard objects.
Cut off a piece of clay and start kneading it in your hands. Seems hard? Relax – the warmth of your hands will make the clay soft and definitely more flexible after a while. Flatten the clay out to form a round piece of approximately 5 centimeters in diameter.
The clay should be given lubrication with the aforementioned liquid, and with gentle movements, without undue pressure, clean the selected section of the car body, windows, headlights or rims. Important – never move the clay in circles!
It is advisable to glide the clay back and forth with straight vertical or horizontal movements, thus avoiding the risk of scratching. Remember that the clay can not be dry – it should glide over the paint smoothly, which is ensured by the right amount of lubricant.
After cleaning a given section of the car, such as a bonnet, roof, door or bumper, look at the clay and assess its condition. If you can see a lot of contaminants on the clay, that have been removed from the car, knead the clay again.
Make sure to get the dirt inside the clay when kneading, and the side of the clay applied to the car needs to be as clean as possible.
Sometimes it happens that the clay slips out of your hands and drops to the ground. Never use this clay for further work – the dirt stuck to it guarantees that the paint will be scratched.
In this situation, it will be best to take a completely new piece of clay, shape it again and continue with the cleaning of the paint.
If you want to make sure that the paint has been properly cleaned with the clay bar, do another test with a disposable glove. If it glides smoothly over the dried paint and does not catch on it, it is a sign that you have done your job well.
After claying, re-wash the car thoroughly. Only after another wash, when the paint is completely dry, it is ready for further work – polishing (if you see scratches on it) or waxing for longer protection of the paint coat from re-contamination, and also to give it a refreshed look and to enhance the color.