what does a clay bar do?

Discussion in 'Mustang Sound & Shine All' started by fartingchicken, Sep 11, 2007.


  1. fartingchicken

    fartingchicken New Member

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    I'm old school and never heard of a clay bar. What does it do? What are the dangers to the finish? Thanks.
  2. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    Clay bars are used to remove surface contaminates from your paint. It would be a GREAT idea to use one before the polishing/waxing process. Basically, you know when you very lightly run your fingernails down your car and you can feel all of the little bumps and things in it? A clay bar takes all of that out and will feel extremely smooth after you finish, kind of like you just polished it.

    Claying is one of those steps you do if you are looking for the best shine possible. It's by all means not required, but it no doubt helps. Basically, you wash your car and get it clean, then you clay it. You shouldn't clay it when it's dirty, you'll just ruin your clay picking up a bunch of crap you could wash off. It's a fairly long process, but it is definately worth it.

    The downside is you have to be a little cautious with clay because if you drop it, it's ruined. It will pick up particles that will put swirl marks/scratches in your car that you can't remove from the clay. Also, after claying parts of the car, you want to routinely knead the clay to expose some fresh parts again, because you don't want to be wiping the particles you just took off of your paint back across your car. The way I do it is I'll do one of my front fenders completely then before moving on to my door, I'll knead it a couple times to get some fresh clay, then I'll do my door. After the door, I'll knead it some more (fold it over on itself and then flatten a little) and move on to a rear quarter panel, so on and so on.

    Don't be scared of it though, as long as you keep the car lubricated, it's a piece of cake. Most clay kits come with a lubrication of some sort, like a quick detail spray, that you spray all over the panel you are going to be claying, then you wipe it off after you finish that panel. Check out Clay Magic at Autozone, that's a pretty good starter clay kit that's easy to use. There are others out there that are finer/harsher, but that one is a good middle of the road clay.
  3. gashog

    gashog Member

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    In your experience Scott, does it do anything to swirl marks?
  4. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    No, it will not remove swirl marks. This is just for removing surface contamination and that's it. It will feel like you just waxed the car after doing it it makes it makes it so smooth. Keep in mind, it will remove wax that put on, so you'll need to wax/seal afterwards.

    If you're looking for something for swirl marks, there aren't a tremendous amount of products out there you can use by hand. Most products by hand will just cover or mask the swirls rather than remove them, there is however a random orbital buffer that works wonders removing swirls, its a Porter Cable 7424. I have one I use with 5.5 and 6 inch foam pads with a couple of different kinds of polish. I had some light swirls from washing and drying that I wanted to get out, so I invested in the PC along with the correct products and I don't have any swirls anymore! There is a small learning curve to using it, but the good thing is you really can't mess up the paint like with a rotary buffer.

    I clayed, polished, then sealed my dad's red Audi A4 and he told me it looked better than the day he brought it home from the dealer. It was absolutely covered in swirl marks from improper washing (taking it to a brush wash, using the same drying towell after dropping it on the ground, etc...) and I probably got 95% of the swirls out. The ones that wouldn't come out were so deep that a random orbital buffer wouldn't probably get them out, unless you use some pretty stout polish.

    Sorry for venturing somewhat off topic, I tend to ramble, but if you are looking for something for swirls, I would highly recommend an orbital buffer. There will probably be around a $200 upfront investment to get the buffer, correct pads, and polishes, but it will definately be worth it if you want to keep it swirl free. If you were interested more in my process (which I just kind of learned with trial and error) which works pretty well for me, let me know.
  5. Art161

    Art161 Member

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    As was mentioned, all clay bars are not created equal. I tried the consumer grade Meguiar's and did not like it. The clay tended to stick to the paint, even though I used plenty of lubricant. I prefer the Griot's Garage clay. I did not try the professional Meguiar's, so can not give an opinion about it.

    I have found that if the car is relatively clean, the claying process does not take very long. I recently waxed my Mustang. The finish looked okay, but the hood felt somewhat rough. (BTW I use my fingertips to check for roughness, not my fingernails, so as not to introduce new scratches.) It took me about 5-10 minutes to clay the hood, and it then it felt nice and smooth.
  6. kooldawg6

    kooldawg6 mine works really well and can take a fair amount

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    I bought the Meguair's kit a couple of weeks back and used it on the trunk lid, roof and hood. WOW! It was better than it had looked in the year I have owned it! I didn't even polish aftrwards, went straight for the wax. Next month I will probably do it to the entire car, this time polishing it as well. It is simple to do. As others mentioned, the key is to keep the car well lubricated and knead the clay often.

    [​IMG]
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  7. fartingchicken

    fartingchicken New Member

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    thanks

    Thanks. This should be in the FAQ. I was thinking it was hard or semi-hard clay.
  8. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    No prob.

    I've got to ask, what prompted you to pick that username? I started laughing when I read it and my wife asked what was so funny!

    Edit: By the way, I can't let Kooldawg have all the glory :)D), here's an old pic after claying, polishing, then a coat of Opti-Seal. It reflected even more it seemed the next day after the sealant cured.

    [​IMG]
  9. fartingchicken

    fartingchicken New Member

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    wow

    That's one really nice lookin' car!
    For my "handle", I was going to use "fc", but it wouldn't allow such a short name. I stole the name from a Sioux Indian. He got admitted to the hospital a long time ago. He was asked what his name was, and he jokingly said, "Farting Chicken". I loved the name ever since.
  10. 1999redcobra

    1999redcobra New Member

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    i am going to do a full out detail on my car but what is a good wash to start with like the soap? and what is the name of the megs professional clay?
  11. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    As far as car soap, out of the several I've tried, regular over the counter Megiuar's Gold Class car wash works just fine compared to several other more expensive one's for me. One I can tell you to stay away from, at least I don't like at all, is Eagle One car wash.

    When washing your car, a good practice to start would be to use 2 buckets, one with regular water, the other with soapy water. After you wipe down your car with the soap, especially around the wheel wells, rinse the mitt off in the regular water before putting it back in the soapy water. Doing that will help prevent contaminates from staying in the mitt or picking them back up when dipping in the soapy water, thus reducing the chance for swirls. It might take a little bit longer, but keeping swirls off my car is a top priority to me, so I don't mind that little bit of extra time.

    Megs professional clay is called just that, "Megiuars Professional Detailing Clay". Here's a link to it if you want to check it out...

    http://www.autogeek.net/megovclay.html
  12. wytstang

    wytstang Advanced Member

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    Clayed
    EX-P sealant
    Well worth the end result (needs a full detail soon).
    [​IMG]
  13. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    Now that is bad ass!

    :nice:


    On a side note, how do you like the EX-P? Does it go on pretty easy? Did you apply with a PC? I've been wanting to try it, but haven't yet.
  14. kooldawg6

    kooldawg6 mine works really well and can take a fair amount

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    I want to use some sealant on my car. I've never used it before, is it fairly easy to apply/do? Do you wax in between polishing and sealing?
  15. MustangDanny

    MustangDanny Founding Member

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    Sealants are basically synthetic waxes. They are not natural products like traditional carnauba waxes. Basically, they are formulated with durability in mind. So as where you could expect typically about 1 month of protection out of a decent carnauba wax application, a good sealant will protect well into 3 months and even more in some cases.
    The down side is it gives it a slightly different look. It tends to look more wet and reflective whereas a carnauba wax gives more of a warm glow. Personal preference usually will pick which one looks better on your paint. It seems like the metal flake pops more with sealants which makes them a very popular choice for metallic colors.
  16. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    MustangDanny hit the nail on the head. I kind of alternate between carnuba and a sealant, just depanding on the look I want. I'll use one for a couple months, polish it to get the wax or sealant off, than put the other on.

    I've never used a product easier to apply than Opti-Seal. Basically, you spray it on and wipe it in with a sponge applicator and that's it, no buffing at all. It looks great after just finishing, but the next morning it looks even better after it cured. The following weekend I will typically put one more layer on it to even make it that much better.

    A little bit goes a long way! When you spray it, it comes out as a mist and one spray is enough to either do a whole door or a quarter panel. My little squirt bottle I can tell will last me for years.

    The main thing is my car looks very reflective after using the sealant versus using a carnuba, but strangely enough, I get more flake pop with the carnuba versus the sealant. I like em both, the carnuba beads water a little better, but the sealant is so much easier to apply and lasts a lot longer. The sealant is reflective, carnuba gives more of a deep look.

    I would try a sealant if you haven't before and see what you think!
  17. wytstang

    wytstang Advanced Member

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    Thank you; Goes on like butta and I applioed it by hand but kinda dropped of fairly quick. I wanna say it lasted 5 weeks or so. Looked great just wish it lasted a bit longer. Wolfgang's Deep Gloss Sealant lasted me 7 weeks during fall. Went on super easy and looked really good on White. I'm getting ready to do the wifes Dark Blue Fusion with WG DGS x2 and top it with Pinnacles Souveran.
  18. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    Good deal, thanks for the info. I think I'll order me some when I need to replinish some other things and try it out. Thanks!

    I totally missed the last part of this, no, it is not necessary to wax in between. I've heard of people waxing and then putting a sealant on afterwards or even vice versa, but the sealant probably won't bond properly to the paint because of the wax, so I wouldn't do it.

    My steps would be...

    1. Wash with 2 buckets, dry with microfiber, dress wheels, clean interior (don't forget the wheel wells, but use a different mitt for them!)
    2. Clay bar entire car (probably once every 3 or 4 months or so, unless I get bombarded by a flock of seagulls or turkey voltures)
    3. Polish with random orbital buffer and appropriate pad/compound combo depending on swirls or lack of swirls
    4. Wipe off any dust from polishing
    5. Clean windows with glass cleaner (no sense doing it after washing because of the dust from the polish)
    6. Top with wax or sealant, possibly next day doing one more coat for added shine/depth
    7. Step back and oogle over the pretty car

    Edit: I forgot to add, this is pretty much my full detail list, I of course don't polish during every detail, I only polish around the time I clay, maybe a little sooner.

    Everyone has their own routine they like to follow and different things work for different people, I just thought I would throw mine out there.
  19. 1999redcobra

    1999redcobra New Member

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    when polishing a car with a buffer how do you apply it and do you apply polish sealents and compounds the same way?
  20. ScottM

    ScottM Founding Member

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    Applying polish with a buffer takes some fine tuning to be able to do. To much product, it will gum up the pad. Too little product, and you could possibly cause some marring due to direct pad contact with no lubrication.

    Basically, I apply an "X" of product on the pad to start with to prime the pad. I work the 2x2 or so area I'm working on, then apply a few drops around the perimeter of the pad when I move on to the next area. After a few applications, I'll use a fairly stiff bristle brush and run it across the pad to break up any clumps that might have formed. You are supposed to work it long enough for the product to break down and become semi clear or transparent, but that just mainly takes time and practice to find out when that is. I would suggest checking out some videos of experts using it to get an idea of how long to work in one area. www.Autogeek.net has some videos under their Porter Cable section that are pretty good instructional videos.

    As far as polish, sealants, compounds, etc..., a lot of them have different applications. Quite a few sealants out there you wipe on and buff off just like a wax. Several of the newer sealants are strictly wipe on and that's it, no buffing off (I use Opti-Seal which is like that). I believe Zaino has one as well.

    Polishes are maily applied with either a random orbital, or rotary buffer. I'm not sure I've seen many actual polishes that work well being applied by hand.

    Compounds are generally used for pretty evasive corrective work (major oxidation, nasty swirls). You would probably want to follow applying a compound with a less agressive polish to smooth out any marring the compound caused, which is common. They, like other polishes, are usually applied by a buffer, preferably a rotary.

    There are a ton of different polishes/compounds out there, so not all fall in those areas, as some are not as abrasive, or more abrasive, but that should give you an idea.

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