How and why use a clay bar on your car? Is it good for your car?

There is always one controversial product or person in every industry, don’t you think so? It won’t be wrong to say that the clay bar has stolen the title in the car care industry.

You must be wondering why we said that. Well, several myths are attached to the clay bars that have been spreading like wildfire. Some read that it’s harmful to your car paint, while others abruptly refuse to use it for its variety of disadvantages.

Why use a clay bar on your car when such misconceptions are prevailing everywhere? Because it has some unique features that you can’t get from a car cleaner or wax solely. While its use is not mandatory, it is one of the essential steps in car detailing. Ok, we need to stop it here. It’s getting confusing whether a clay bar is good or evil.

To make it simpler, below, we have honestly reviewed the clay bar and detailed when to use it. After reading it, you will be able to decide for yourself whether or not to go for it.

What is a clay bar?

A clay bar is either a synthetically engineered or naturally found resin compound formulated to remove contaminants like rain dust, industrial fallouts, tree sap, bitumen tar, and honey from a car’s surface to make it smooth and ready to apply car wax.

You know what a clay bar is and how it works if it reminds you of the clay you used to play with in your childhood. While both the clays are somewhat similar, they can’t be used interchangeably, of course. The clay bar for a car is designed to be much stretchier, elastic, and highly durable to manipulate into different shapes for effective use.

Moreover, a clay bar used for cars is far more resilient in dealing with the harsh contaminants attached to your car’s surface. It is such a magical thing that it removes harsh pollutants without causing any harm to the car’s surface.

Why do you need to clay your vehicle?

As previously said, claying is an important step in car care. While not everyone needs to perform it, those who go on long road trips and use their car every day must do it twice a year.

Following are some of the most important reasons why you should clay your car:

  • It safely removes bonded contaminants from your car’s surface

Just washing your car is not enough when you use your car a little too often. This is because when you take your car outside, contaminants get bonded to its surface (clear coat or paintwork). If you still don’t understand what we are talking about, just go to your parking space and run your hand over your car, you will know then.

  • Wax sticks better after claying

Another reason why claying is important is that when the car surface becomes even and clear after claying, it lets the wax bond well on its surface. As a result, you will find lustrous shine and a smooth finish. Moreover, wax lasts for longer if applied after claying and provides protection for an extended period.

What does ‘Clay bar detailing’ mean?

There is a popular phrase used regarding a clay bar, ‘clay bar detailing. Here is what it means.

When you use a clay bar to remove harsh pollutants from the car’s surface that regular car wash doesn’t eliminate, it is called, clay bar detailing. A clay bar specifically deals with:

  • Metal dust
  • Brake dust
  • Road grit
  • Industrial pollution

When you take your car outside, it gets pelted with tiny particles that bond to its surface and cause damage to your car’s paint. In worse scenarios, it gets down to the metal and damages the frame. People often ask how you would know if you have particles buildup on your car’s surface after washing. The easiest way to find that out is by running your fingers on the car’s surface. If it’s bumpy and uneven, you will immediately know that it has contaminants attached to its surface. To clear that out, you will need a clay bar.

How does a clay bar work?

The clay bar is a bit tricky to work with. Unlike car polish and waxes, it must be used carefully to avoid causing damage to the car.

Clay bar detailing must be done after a car wash and dry before polishing or waxing. You need three things to use a clay bar.

  1. Clay bar (of course)
  2. Clay bar lubricant or a spray
  3. A microfiber cloth

How to use a clay bar?

How to use a clay bar on car
Shutterstock Licensed Image

Following is the step-by-step guide to using a clay bar. Follow the instructions in the same sequence to avoid any damage.

Step 1: Car Prep

The first step is to prep your car for claying. For that, you need to wash it with car soap and dry it thoroughly. This will with the claying.

Note: Don’t go for an automatic car wash as it tends to leave a lot of product and residue on the car’s surface.

Step 2: Get a clay bar and a matching lubricant spray

Clay bars come in different categories, like fine and medium. However, some brands have further categorized them into ‘ultra fine, which could confuse beginners. We would recommend going for a fine clay bar as it removes contaminants and grime and is less likely to damage the car’s surface.

Note: if your clay bar doesn’t have a lubricating spray, get one yourself. It must be in the same section in the automobile store from where you bought the car clay.

Step 3: Get a 2 oz. car for one car

Clay bars come in various sizes. However, you will only need one bar of 2 oz. for one car. If you got a bigger one, cut it into sections and wrap them up for later use. For instance, a 6 ox bar can be cut into 3 pieces.

Step 3: Turn the clay into a circular shape

Next, you need to squeeze the clay in your hands to make it soft. Then move it back and forth on your palm to achieve a ball shape. Once it’s round and soft, turn it into a disc shape. It should be 0.75 in (1.9 cm) thick.

Step 4: Apply lubricant over a 2 ft x 2 ft section of your car

For extremely good results, you need to work section by section. Spray the lubricant generously onto a 2 ft x 2 ft section of your car so that it’s saturated. You may also lubricate the disc for results

Step 5: Glide the clay gently over the lubricated area

Straighten your hand and pin the clay against the car with the help of your fingers. Buff up and down, side to side, using enough force to keep the clay from slipping away. Apply more lubricant if the clay sticks while rubbing.

Step 6: Check the clay for contaminants:

After rubbing the clay on a specific area, turn it around to check if it has any contaminant on it. If there is any, fold the clay from that side to bring out the clear part, spray it with the lubricant and continue working on the same area. Repeat the process until the area comes out clean.

Step 7: Wipe off the lubricant with a microfiber cloth

Now at this step, you need to clear the lubricant with a microfiber cloth after ensuring that no pollutants are left on the surface. To check that, run your fingers through it, if it is not super smooth, means there is still dirt on the surface and you need to rub the clay further to clear it.  After doing so, check again and clean the lubricant using a microfiber cloth.

Step 8: Fold the clay and come to the next section

After getting done with one part, fold the clay into half in a way that the clear sides come up. Make sure it is clean, then spray it with the lubricant to start rubbing. If your clay has no clear side left and is full of contaminants, you can discard it and use a new one.

Step 9: Repeat the process until you have covered the entire surface:

You need to keep claying section by section until no dirty surface is left and the entire surface is smoothened. Perform a hand test for bumps. If nothing feels odd, move on to the next step, wax coating.

Step 10: Apply a car wax

The last and most important step is to wax your car. It is important to wax your car after cleaning as it prevents any future damage to the car. Also, sealant or waxing prevents the paint from corrosion.

Note: If you want to polish your car, do it before claying and waxing.

People who ask why use a clay bar on your car must have gotten their answer by now. If you don’t do it, you will see the consequences yourself.

4 Best Clay Bar recommendations in 2022

The Mother California Gold Clay Bar System is hands down the best clay bar kit you will ever have. The reason for its popularity is the premium items that come along with it in a compact box. You will get two clay bars, a lubricant and a microfiber towel in the kit.

Without being aggressive on your car, it evens out your car’s surface without damaging its paint. You will get everything you need in a compact box to perform the laying.

Meguiar’s Smooth Surface Clay kit is the runner-up in the list of the best clay bar kits for cars. Due to the premium quality, it leaves an everlasting shine to your car without taking much effort. In this kit, you will get two clay bars, a detailer, and a microfiber cloth.

The bars are completely non-abrasive and safe to use for multiple purposes. It efficiently removes debris and paint overspray, giving your car the dreaded gritty texture.

Griot’s Garage Paint Clay is your best bet if you are looking for a price-friendly kit without compromising on quality. It is specially designed to clear and tackle contaminants without damaging the paintwork. The clay bar that comes with it is large enough to clean up to seven cars. That means a one-time purchase will go a long way.

The clay bar is sticky and pliable, making it glide easily onto the surface and detach the pollutants from it. The lubricant is as effective as the rest of the products that come with the kit.

Trinova Clay Bar kit is an all-inclusive value pack that comes with two clay bars, premium quality lubricant and a microfiber towel. It’s clay bars are tinted, which makes it easier for you to detect dirt on it. If you mold the clay into a flat disc, you will be able to cover larger areas in a shorter time.

Whether it’s overspray, tree sap, brake dust, or embedded metals. The clay bar instantly removes all the dirt from your car’s surface with just a slight rubbing. In the end, you will only be left with a clean and even surface, ready to be waxed.

Conclusion – Why use a clay bar on your car?

By now, most of you must have convinced yourself that your car needs a clay bar. Regardless of whether it’s a new or an old vehicle, your car needs a good cleansing.

If you are up to performing claying, you should keep our stated instructions in front during the process so that you won’t miss out on any step. As far as the clay bar brand is concerned, we have listed that too. Try any of them to get guaranteed good results.

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