Clay Bar Your Paint

This is a process that most people do not know about or think it has minimal value to to your cars appearance. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is especially true if you have a new car or are expecting to get one soon. The reason this is so critical is due to the reason that just about every car purchased in this country is transported at some time on a rail car. Why is that important? As the wheels of the cars move along the rails they grind together and create a large amount of steel dust that gets onto the cars paint. This steel dust is ionic in nature which means that will stick to your paint rather tenaciously. Washing your car will not remove this dust to any great extent and you certainly do not want to polish the paint as this dust will act like sand paper.

So if you have a new car sitting in your drive and want to know the first step, here you go. First, wash the car thoroughly with Dawn detergent. This strong soap will remove any wax or other topicals that the dealer might have put on your paint. Rinse completely and you can dry the car at this point or not, it's up to you. Make sure you are in a shady place before you start the next step.

flatten clay, clay, palmUse a clay bar kit that you can buy at any auto supply or from a link on this site as they all sell top quality products. Choose a clay that is a fine grade and remove the clay from the package. Take the clay and flatten into a palm sized piece. Next choose a spot on the car and spray lubricant on an area about 1' sq. Rub the clay over the surface and you should feel some resistance and as you rub it will become quite smooth. Make sure that you keep the surface well lubricated so as to not have the clay mar on your paint which is hard to get off. After each section, dry with a microfiber towel. A neat trick to see how well this works is to take a plastic sandwich bag and put your hand inside. Spray some lube onto an untreated area and rub your finger over the area through the bag. You should feel some amazing roughness through the plastic. Next, treat the same area with the clay and repeat the step. You will be amazed at how smooth the difference is.

folding over clay to expose new material
Make sure that you keep folding the clay to get a new surface as the clay does get contaminated. If you drop a piece on the ground throw it  away as it is no longer useable. Do this claying process over the whole car and when finished, re-wash  and dry.  You should be able to do your car twice with one piece of clay depending on how contaminated the surface is and how large your car is.

Now you are ready to apply a wax or other sealants as you wish. This process can be used for your glass, rims or any hard exterior plastics. Here is a link that shows all of the products that you can buy to do this.

Clay lube, lbricant
If you run out of the supplied lube you can use auto detailer spray or if you don't have any, make a mixture of soap and water and use that. Either one works great.

How often does this process have to be done? Well, it all depends on you climate and is your car garaged or left outside? Cars that are left outside obviously need it more frequently and I would surmise that being on the east coast might cause more contaminants to accrue such as road salt and the like during the winter months. Basically, living on the west coast and parking outside I do my car 2-3 times a year. It only adds about half an hour to my detail. Most people should do at least twice a year and it will keep your paint looking great.

Below is a quick video showing this guys technique for claying.  You can do it this way or do smaller sections, it's up to you.

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