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Cosmetic Maintenance: Washing, Waxing, Detailing, Bodywork, Protection Anything related to keeping your Camaro clean and in good cosmetic condition.

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Old 06-13-2012, 01:56 PM   #1
Todd@Autopia
 
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Autopia Guide to Detailing: Using Detailing Clay

Autopia Guide To Detailing

Detailing 101- How To Use Detailing Clay On Your Car


Every car finish shares a common enemy. This enemy, usually invisible, is relentless in its purist. It surrounds us in the air we breath and your paint is engaged in it's battle from the time it rolls out of the factory gate until it meet's it's ultimate demise. The enemy is air-borne pollution and fall out. Regular washing cannot remove it and paint polishing is highly inefficient at attacking it. The solution is Detailing Clay.

Detailing Clay is perhaps one of the most innovative and effective do-it-yourself product innovations in the car care industry, despite being overlooked by many detailers and enthusiasts. Invented in Japan in the late 1980's, automotive Detailing Clay is a paint cleaning system designed to safely and effectively remove bonded surface contamination that is not removed with normal car washing.

Claying your paint with Detailing Clay is not a substitute for polishing your car. Claying is a process to be done prior to the polishing process to remove contaminants that have adhered to your paint. The polishing process removes paint defects such as scratches, swirl marks, oxidation, and staining while improving overall paint clarity to enhance gloss and prepare your paint to accept car waxes, paint sealants, or coatings.

For those who have never done it, rubbing detailing clay on your car does sound a little strange but it is actually very effective, quick, super easy and extremely safe! If you have never clayed your paint you will quickly see what you have been missing within the first few passes. It's actually kind of fun!

This article will walk you through the claying process step-by-step to remove the bonded surface contamination and prepare your car for polishing and/or protection.


Does My Car Need to be Clayed?

First of all, age does not matter! Many people think that a new car does not need to be clayed. This is not necessarily true! Contamination doesn’t care if your car is new or old. If your car is subjected to airborne contamination and it has bonded to the surface it needs to be clayed.

Just remember, even a new car has been subjected to many types environments prior to the salesman handing you the keys. Your car started at the factory, sat on a lot waiting for transport via ship, train or truck or a combination of transports, then it sat on the lot waiting to be bought. Who knows what was floating around the air on the long journey between the factory and your driveway???


Surface Contamination Test

New or old, there is a way to tell if it is time to clay your car. The contamination that clay removes can often be felt by touch. Paint should feel smooth. If you feel a gritty, a sandy, or a pebble like texture on the paint then it needs to be clayed.
  • Wash your car to make sure the surface is clean and free of any loose dirt, then feel the surface with the back of your hand for obvious contamination. Sometimes you can feel it right away but you may need to go one step further with your contamination test.


  • Take a plastic baggie and place your hand inside the bag.


  • Run the bag over the same area of your paint that you felt with your bare hand.

Do you feel the difference? The plastic bag basically amplifies the surface contamination bonded to your car. Even if you don’t feel much, it is best to remove it before moving on to your polishing and protecting processes.



Types of Bonded Surface Contamination

Bonded surface contaminants make your paint feel rough leaving your paint more prone to oxidation and premature aging. If your paint is not slick and smooth, dirt and grime tend to stick to the surface of your car, which can lead to instilling that dreaded swirl during your car wash process.
  • Paint Overspray
  • Rail Dust
  • Industrial Pollution
  • Road Grime
  • Brake Dust
  • Bugs Remains
  • Pollen
  • Specs from Tree Sap or Tar
  • Many other contaminants that float around the air and attach themselves to your paint’s surface.

How Does Detailing Clay Work



Surface contamination, as shown by this magnified illustration , won’t budge when you wash the surface through your normal car wash procedure. The contamination is even difficult to polish off. Detailing Clay will quickly and easily remove this contamination as it glides across your paint surface without the worry of damaging your paint.



Detailing Clay works by hydroplaning (gliding) over the surface of your paint on a thin layer of clay lubricant. The contamination sticks through the surface where the clay is free to remove it. The clay lubricant also helps to keep the clay from sticking to the surface of the paint while the clay removes the bonded contamination. Many fear that they will harm their car’s paint as Detailing Clay is an abrasive but it is actually only abrasive to the contamination, not your paint. The Detailing Clay actually safely shears the bonded surface contamination without the fear of harming your paint.




Types of Detailing Clay

There are many brands of clay with different levels of aggressiveness. The more aggressive Detailing Clays are used in body shops to remove difficult contaminates like heavy paint overspray. The medium to ultra-fine grade Detailing Clays are formulated for professional detailers, serious enthusiasts and average consumers.

Meguiar's Professional Red Detailing Clay is an aggressive detailing clay that will quickly cut through heavy contamination. However the abrasives in this synthetic bar are aggressive enough to lightly mark or scratch the paint, requiring some machine paint polishing to remove. This bar is recommended for professionals or serious enthusiasts who have machine paint polishing experience.

BLACKFIRE PolyClay II is a medium grade of synthetic clay that is malleable and gentle to the paint but tough on paint contamination. This is a consumer grade clay that many professionals use for it's quick cleaning action.

Sonus SFX Ultra-Fine Detailing Clay is an extremely fine clay that will remove light contamination quickly with almost zero risk of damaging the softest paints. This fine clay is well suited to regular use and is so gentle in it's action that it will not remove most waxes and paint sealants.

The Ultima Elastrofoam Paint Cleaning System is a new take on the clay bar. With the Ultima System the clay bar is replaced by a specially lined Elastrofoam Foam Block. The special lining on the block allows it remove contamination just like a clay bar, yet it can be rinsed and re-used many time.


Clay Lubrication



Without proper lubrication Detailing Clay will simply not work. Instead the clay would stick or skip across the paint and likely cause some marring. Lubrication such as a detail spray or proper clay lubricant, like BLACKFIRE Clay Lubricant, Sonus Glyde Clay Lubricant, or Meguiar's M34 Final Inspection will help the Detailing Clay to properly glide across the paint surface.


Detailing Clay Procedure

IMPORTANT! If you drop your detail clay bar on the ground you MUST throw it away as it will pick up dirt from the ground which will scratch your car!
  • Always work in a shaded area and on a cool surface. Claying your car on a warm or hot surface will tend to make the clay stick to the surface and will not be effective to remove the bonded surface contamination.
  • Thoroughly wash and dry your car or truck.
  • Cut your Detailing Clay in half or quarters and form a round flat wafer. A 200g Detailing Clay Bar will make four pieces.
  • Spray your detail clay lubricant onto about a 2’ by 2’ area.
  • Gently with slight pressure glide the detailing clay bar over the surface of the paint in a back and forth motion. Do not apply excessive pressure; remember you are only hydroplaning over the surface to remove bonded contaminants. The clay may tend to grab at first, then you will feel it break free and easily glide as the contaminants are removed.IMPORTANT! Keep your clay and surface well lubricated with your detailing clay lubricant.
  • -Wipe clay lubricant from the surface with a quality microfiber towel such as a 530 Supreme.
  • Fold over your clay and knead to reshape often to expose a clean clay surface.
  • Feel the area that has been cleaned. It should feel slick and smooth. If not, you will need to repeat the process until all of the surface contamination has been removed.
  • Continue this process over the entire car. Remember that detail clay works great on glass, chrome and wheels too. Heavy embedded contaminants on wheels will probably require lots of elbow grease!
  • As a precaution when claying wheels be sure to use a dedicated clay bar that will not ever be used on your car’s paint.


Increase The Life Of Your Clay Bar

As your Detailing Clay Bar works by lightly abrading and removing contamination it becomes contaminated itself. A fine gray or brown film will begin to cover the surface of the clay. Traditionally the clay the contaminated side is folded onto itself to expose a clay side. While this works well and you can get considerable life from your Detailing Clay, the question remains? What what just happened to the contamination that was pressed into the center of the clay.



Over time the contamination will become so heavy that the clay bar will loose it's abililty to work or create scratching. BLACKFIRE Clay Cleaner & Extender is a formula designed to clean the contamination from the surface of the clay with out drying it out or damaging it. Mist a couple of squirts of this cleaner on the contaminated side, massage into the clay with your thumbs, and rinse off. The contamination will rinse away as well. Now you can fold clean clay onto itself and prevent once of the main causes in clay loosing its effectiveness. This solution pays for itself after the first car.

Storage: Be sure to lubricate your detail clay bar with your clay lubricant to keep it from sticking and store it in its original box or plastic bag. Do not let your detail clay freeze or reach temperatures above 120 degrees.
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Old 06-14-2012, 11:52 AM   #2
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Don't eat it either.
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:02 PM   #3
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Nice write up Todd!
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:15 PM   #4
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Excellent. I've never clayed a car before, so good info.

Question:

If I don't have a PC, and using just good ole elbow grease...does claying still make sense to do?
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:33 PM   #5
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Yes. The more surface contaminents you take off your paint, the better your wax will adhere to paint thus lasting longer.
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Originally Posted by Rangore View Post
Excellent. I've never clayed a car before, so good info.

Question:

If I don't have a PC, and using just good ole elbow grease...does claying still make sense to do?
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Old 06-14-2012, 03:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rencor View Post
Yes. The more surface contaminents you take off your paint, the better your wax will adhere to paint thus lasting longer.
Exactly!

Also think of bonded conatmination like a fine opaque film on your paint. Removing this film will increase the shine and gloss of the paint!
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Old 06-15-2012, 05:33 PM   #7
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does clay bar take off existing wax ? do i need to re-wax after everytime i clay bar ?
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:36 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jtvst4 View Post
does clay bar take off existing wax ? do i need to re-wax after everytime i clay bar ?
While there is some debate on this (I tend to believe that it does remove wax near completely), it as the very least weakens it. It is a good idea to reapply your wax protection after claying just to be safe
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