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DIY: How to Claybar your vehicle

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    • Jan 18, 2009 9:32:23 am
    Well, it's been searched for by many and asked for by even here's a step by step process on how to clay bar your car.

    **History of clay bar: For those who know not of what I speak, a clay bar is just that...a small bar of clay. Used with a lubricating spray (such as a detailing spray), it glides across a freshly cleaned car's paint picking up debris and environmental fall out. Once the process is complete, the paint is cleaner than what it looked like on the showroom floor. The clay bar lifts the debris off of the paint and retains it within itself to prevent scratching.

    The Product:
    There are a few versions/vendors of clay bars, but the one that I like to use is by Meguiars...

    Others on the market are:

    Pinacle Ultra Poly Clay bars

    and the newer style is a liquid based clay bar from Turtle Wax

    I always have used the actual clay and never the liquids, so I can only vouche for them.

    Beginning the process
    -You first need to wash your car thoroughly and remove as much debris as possible. A good carwashing liquid soap along with a microfiber wash mit is what I use and seems to do a great job, limiting clear coat scratches. **Washing your car will cause scratches to appear in the clear coat so using a microfiber wash mit helps limit that due to it's ability to trap debris in the material and not drag it across the paint.
    Some options:

    Here's the microfiber wash mit:

    -After thoroughly washing your car, you want to remove all the water off of the vehicle. Again, a set of microfiber cloths is what I would suggest using for limited clear coat scratches.

    **A lot of people have told me that rather than microfiber, they use diaper soft cloths. I would NOT suggest this b/c the diaper soft cloth is meant for polishing ...the process AFTER you clay bar. The diaper cloth is very soft but does not hold debris within it. Using it will scratch the clear coat and promote heavy swirl marks.

    -Once the vehicle is completely dry, locate an area to park the car so that the paint is not in direct sunlight or hot. You want the paint to be cool to the touch so, a garage is a perfect place to pull it in if you have one or can.

    -Once the paint is cool to the touch, the clay bar process takes way. Most of the clay bar kits come with a lubricating spray but if you are out of the spray, or get a kit that doesn't have worries . Just pick up one of these sprays, or something similar:

    -Hold the clay bar in one hand and the detailing spray in the other. Pocket a microfiber cloth so that you can use it to pick up any extra detailing spray that is left on the panels.

    -Spray the area of the car you wish to begin with (about a 3' x 3' area) and begin to move the clay bar in circular motion. Not much force is needed, but just make sure the clay bar stays flush to the paint. Don't be afraid to use the detailing spray b/c with more lubrication, the clay bar glides much easier and picks up dirts easier as well. After you've done that 3' x 3' area, you can either move on, or do what I do and use the microfiber cloth to wipe up extra spray. This simply helps prevent smears afterwards.

    -Go around the entire car doing this and when you're done with each panel, knead the clay to expose a fresh, clean layer to the paint surface. You want to do this so that you don't transfer debris from one panel to the other and have double the work to do.

    -From here, repeat the step of spraying the panel area and using rotational movements with the clay. Then, if you choose, follow back with the microfiber cloth to pick up extra spray.

    -Once complete, your paint will have a very cool, crisp feel to it and it is now ready for waxing. You MUST wax after you use the clay bar b/c it lifts up all residue from previous cleanings and leaves the paint exposed. You can choose your own wax from here on out, but some suggestions are:

    **Personal TIP: I use a paste cleaner wax after clay baring the vehicle and then follow up with a liquid top wax, such as Zymol. The finish is immaculate and lasts for several months. Follow up every week with a nice covering of detailing spray to keep the wax coat clean and the paint shining through.

    Finished product:

    edited by:

    Web & Orin
    • Jan 18, 2009 9:34:42 am
    thanks web! as soon as the weather breaks im gonna pop my claybar cherry
    • Jan 18, 2009 9:38:59 am
    Thanks never used a claybar before, great info
    • Jan 18, 2009 10:49:05 am
    i cant wait for the summer so i can do this
    • Jan 18, 2009 11:04:10 am
    Thanks Web and Orin for listening to my request! ima do this tomorrow! woot!
    • Jan 18, 2009 11:20:35 am
    Clay use is pretty simple, but it does have a lot of dimension to it. You'll always want to make sure you get the most debris off the vehicle before you begin the process.

    As you continue to work, you'll actually be able to feel which areas need more work because the clay will not slide through the paint as easily.

    The end result is always something wonderful to behold.
    • Jan 18, 2009 3:31:04 pm
    Just a little something to add to the post. All the products mentioned are great except for the Turtle Wax. Their products tend to be somewhat inferior(in my experience). I see you (Web) have not used it personally and it was just an example of a liquid clay bar. A suggestion for those using clay for the first time. Rub the clay in the direction wind would flow over your car. This will help eliminate swirl marks or "spider webs" in your paint. Clay works very well and if not kneaded frequently can pick up debris and scratch paint. I know that the car will have been washed before but trust me, it doesn't get everything off. Swirl marks in the clear coat are tiny "V" indents. Each side of the "V" reflects the light and breaks the direction it reflects off the paint. When they are made in a circular motion, these reflections are visible from all directions. If they are "accidentally" made in the same direction, they should theoretically only be visible from two angles. It is good practice to do washing/wiping/drying/clay in the direction of air flow over the car. It is also acceptable to leave the water on after washing while using the spray lubricant. Clay also comes in different grades for different applications.

    That being said, thank you Web for this great write up and hopefully this extra info helps.

    • Jan 18, 2009 3:39:40 pm
    Thanks for the add on! Great info and tips.
    • Jan 18, 2009 4:12:04 pm
    STAY AWAY FROM ICE!!!!!!!! That has to be the worst product ive ever used. The clay bar was crap. The wax was nothing. It was horrible.

    I stay to Mothers usually. Decided to give the Ice a try and regreted it.
    • Jan 18, 2009 4:16:12 pm
    I'm a Meguiars fan and just recently tried the Zymol wax.....AMAZING! Meguiars and Zymol for me only
    • Jan 18, 2009 10:05:37 pm
    Wow, great write up! Thanks for the info. As soon as the weather allows, I will use a clay bar on my tc
    • Jan 18, 2009 11:49:01 pm
    Cool... I have a mothers claybar kit I'm itching to try out once the weather gets a little warmer!

    Thanks for the tips!
    • Jan 18, 2009 11:57:38 pm
    i always clay at the same time i wash my car. it's faster that way.
    i have a sponge in one hand and the clay bar in the other. the suds provide way more than enough lubrication to get the job done.
    • Jan 19, 2009 1:46:32 am
    thanks Web <3
    • Jan 19, 2009 2:03:35 am
    nice how to!
    • Jan 19, 2009 7:01:05 am
    Here is a link to a video to show the process.
    • Jan 19, 2009 7:08:49 am
    can you use the clay bar on our roofs also? Does it work on Glass?
    • Jan 19, 2009 7:10:32 am
    silvrscion08 wrote:
    can you use the clay bar on our roofs also? Does it work on Glass?

    • Jan 19, 2009 11:22:24 am
    Yeah, you can use it on the glass. Its really good for getting stains and water marks off glass.
    • Jan 19, 2009 7:10:12 pm
    I've tried both and can tell you that the Mothers/Meguiars claybars are pretty much awful. The Sonus Fine bar w/ Glyde is superb-- you can clay an entire tC in about 30 minutes.

    Also, if you don't strip all of the wax/polish/sealant off of the car with dish soap (or similar), you're only getting the contaminants off of your wax, not off of the paint.
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