The Clay Bar Question

What is a clay bar and how does it apply to detailing.? Have you ever run you hand over your freshly washed vehicle to find it just doesn’t feel smooth any more? Over time dirt and iron particles build up and attach themselves to the paint giving it that textured feel, washing alone will generally only remove loose dirt and dust rather than bonded surface contamination.

Clay barring is referred to in a broader sense as the decontamination step which a skilled detailer will generally use before polishing and has two forms. The first is mechanical decontamination which is as the name suggests a mechanical action of the clay bar by hand to remove surface contamination, the second is chemical decontamination which again as the name suggests is a chemical used to break down the bonded surface contamination.

Clay removes above-surface bonded contamination through the mechanical action of the clay bar rubbing against the vehicle surface. While the clay abrades the contamination as a result of the mechanical action it is not abrasive to the paint if used correctly. Used in combination with a clay lubricant prevents marring of the paint and bonded contamination sticks to the clay and is removed from the paint.

There is a number off different detailing clay formulations from fine grade, medium grade and aggressive each serving its own purpose depending on how heavy the surface contamination is and how long it has been since your car has been professionally detailed. Fine grade clay will generally require no extra polishing to remove traces of marring or slight swirling however aggressive clay with it’s heavy abrasive nature will usually leave surface marring which will require machine polishing to restore the surface.

How often should you clay? It really depends on a number of different factors such as what area you live in (industrial type areas tend to leave cars with a heavy build up of contamination relatively quickly), how the car is stored (undercover or outside) and how the car is used but usually clay barring is a great way to maintain and improve the appearance of your vehicle every 6- 12 months.

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