Claying your car yourself - A DIY guide
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Claying is the process of removing contaminants that are on your paint surface. It should be done after you have washed your car, before polishing or waxing.

Category: Car Maintenance Advice

Claying is the process of removing contaminants that are on your paint surface. It should be done after you have washed your car, before polishing or waxing. Using clay is necessary to remove dirt that is trapped in the paint finish. Waxing without claying results in the trapping and sealing of this dirt on to the paint surface.

It is not necessary to clay your car after every single wash. A rough feeling car surface indicates paint contamination. There are two ways to get rid of this- by either using a polishing compound or using a clay bar. Using a polishing compound removes a lot of paint material in the process, therefore using a clay bar is recommended.

Why use a Clay bar

Clay bars have the ability to trap tiny debris. An appropriate lubricant is used together with the clay bar prevents abrasion of the paint surface. Any particle that protrudes from the top coat surfaced will be caught by the clay bar. The clay lubricant then prevents the debris from scratching the paint coat. After this process, the paint will feel smooth and shine brilliantly.

While clay is common used for other purposes, it is relatively new in the car detailing market. Clay bars are actually made of fine clay particles in a soft and malleable medium which allows the bar to be kneaded. Clay makers add colours to make it more creative or as a label for differing strengths and coarseness.
Clay "feels like" and "looks like" plasticine

How to use a clay bar

Clay bars usually weigh about 150g. The entire bar should not be used at a single time to prevent contamination. One way to prevent this would be cutting the bar into 8 equal pieces, kept in seperate clean bags for future use. Each piece can be used at least twice, depending on the amount of dirt present on your car. Do not exceed the recommended amount of times as a dirty clay bar can do more harm to your car's paintwork. Before discarding however, use it to clay the car rims.

Simple steps for using a Clay bar

1. Use soap and water to wash the car. Do not dry the car yet.
2. Fill up a pail with water and add shampoo.
3. Roll the clay bar into a ball then flatten it so that it fits nicely in your palm.
4. Hold the clay bar on one hand, and a car sponge in the other. Dip both hands into the pail to wet with soapy water. Spread the soapy water on the car,move the clay back and forth with medium pressure. Place more soapy water if the surface begins to dry up as clay is sticky and cannot be used dry.
5. Check the clay bar frequently for hard particles and remove them. Occassionally knead and re-form the bar so that the entire clay is evenly used. Should you drop your bar on the ground, discard it.
6. Check the areas you have clayed by running your hand over it. It should feel smooth. When the entire car is completely clayed, wash the car again with shampoo. If the clay can still be used, keep it in a clean plastic bag. Remember it should be kept damp.
7. Dry the car completely.

Your car is now clayed. There should be no more surface contaminants on your paintwork if the car looks shiny and feels smooth. You can now proceed with waxing to seal in the gloss.

The following conditions below indicate other contaminants that only can be removed via polishing

1. Random, isolated scratches
2. Cobweb-effect
3. Buffer Swirl
4. Oxidation
5. Pore imbedding stains
6. Chemical etching
7. Acid rain spots
8. Etching from bird droppings

Also read

Starters guide to bringing the shine to your paintwork
Guide to waxing your car
Guide to polishing your car

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