How do you work a clay bar? | FerrariChat

How do you work a clay bar?

Discussion in 'Ferrari Discussion (not model specific)' started by ronr, Dec 23, 2003.

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  1. ronr

    ronr Formula Junior

    Oct 30, 2002
    DFW, TX
    Full Name:
    I hear lots of talk about people rubbing clay bars on their cars, but never hear any details. Clay is mud where I'm from. I can't imagine a worse thing to do to paint, except for rubbing it with a three-hole brick. Could this be urban legend?

    What's the procedure for using clay? What does it do for you, how often should you do it, how hard is it to do, does it cause damage over time?
  2. nerd

    nerd F1 Rookie

    Oct 12, 2003
    Coronado, CA
    Full Name:
    From Griot's Garage website:

    Regardless of how clean you think your paint is, there are still contaminants stuck on the paint that you need to remove before waxing or polishing your paint. Paint Cleaning Clay leaves behind an ultra-smooth surface that will make your wax adhere better and last longer, too. It also makes the wax much easier remove, reducing your "elbow grease" substantially. Clay is safe for all paint and also works great on glass to get it squeaky clean. To use, just spray the paint's surface with Speed Shine® (acts as a lubricating fluid), and rub the clay back and forth until there is no drag. This means your paint is clean! Unlike other cleaners and polishes, no buffing or hard circular motions are necessary. Takes literally one fourth the time as it would using paint cleaner!
  3. ColaGuy

    ColaGuy Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Full Name:
    Joel White
    Clay or Clay bar is a clay like material, very soft and pliable, definitely NOT mud.

    The procedures I have always followed when using clay are:
    1: wash & dry (good washing, not wanting any remaining dust/dirt)
    2: use clay (spray small area with lubricant, can be specially marketed for use with clay bar, or I typically use diluted car soap. Rub clay on lubricated paint surface. Wipe clean.
    3: rewash & dry car
    4: wax/polish
    5: Enjoy the glow

    The clay bar pulls contaminants from the paint. Stuff that is embedded in the paint that typical washing does not get out. I do it ~6mo. or so. The difference is certainly (easily) noticeable (daily driver). If you rub you and on the clean surface before and after, it’s what makes believers.

    I am not aware of any long term negative effects; I would imagine none worse than traditional waxing/polishing.

    When using the clay remember to continually knead it, which provides a clean spot for the clay when it’s in contact with the surface of the paint.

    I have not heard from anyone who has had a bad experience with clay, though I'm sure someone has. I use a fresh clay each time I do the car, there cheap ~$10-$15. Don’t do it to a hot surface, the clay can melt (different brand to varying degrees) and make cleaning a pain.

  4. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
    Owner Rossa Subscribed

    May 29, 2001
    It is a special kind of clay...not what you get at the hobby shop or in the garden... :)

    try this link:

    I find the Griot's clay to be a better value than the Meguires, as you get a pretty sizeable piece by comparison.
  5. TCM

    TCM Formula Junior

    Nov 10, 2003
    Tyngsborough, MA
    Clay is definately a great way to remove contaminents from your paint (even fresh paint from an accident or overspray), but be careful. You have to use a lot of lubricant to make sure you do not scrath the paint. I am more familiar with the Zymol Lehm Clay which is more aggressive then your normal clay bar. If you do not use enough lubricant, you are basically rubbing harsh materials against the paint. The lubricant acts as a buffer then creates a safe zone in between the paint and clay. I personally only use clay after trying some less agressive tactics such as a precleanser.
  6. Agent Smith

    Agent Smith Formula 3

    Apr 20, 2002
    I just bought a 10 year old Acura Legend and the first thing I did was detail the heck out of the paint. I used Mothers Clay system and Meguiers Gold wax/detail/polisher stuff and the results were spectacular. It made it look like a new car. This was my first experience with clay and I plan on doing it once a year from now on. It really is unbelieveable how much crap the clay will take off of your paint.
  7. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
    Black Hawk, CO
    Full Name:
    The #1 rule when working with the clay bar you must remember at all times. If the clay bar touches the ground, it is USELESS, throw it away, don't even play the "it looks clean still" game. Bring out the spare.

    The clay touching the ground is like taking a piece of gum and pressing it on the sidewalk, it picks up all sorts of junk that could be glass, gravel, dirt, quartz, and other kinds of nasty stuff you can rub into your paint.

    Automotive clay is designed to "pull" contaminants from the paint that are invisible to the naked eye and adhere to the surface of the clay. Your paint is like your teeth, it may be smooth, but its definitely porous under extremely close scrutiny. Scratches also hold contaminants in them. Even after a through through job washing the car the first time, stuff will still be in the paint. The clay bar helps remove fallout/pollution, sap, and embedded road grime.

    General use:

    Keep it in your pocket to warm it up for a few minutes while your washing and preping the paint surface.

    Flatten it like a pancake. With a spray bottle of lubricant (small concentration of soap, the rest water, most clay bar kits come with a bottle of lubricant), spray a 8x8 inch section so its soaking wet.

    In a straight motion up and down, rub the clay on the paint using gentle pressure and a fluid movement. Work top down and save the lower 1/3 of the car for the end. A clay bar should be able to do 2 medium size cars or one bad off car.

    After your done claying, wash the car using a pristine wash mitt and light soap. Rinse throughly and dry.

    More questions, go here..

  8. AEHaas

    AEHaas Formula 3

    May 9, 2003
    Osprey, Florida
    Full Name:
    Ali E. Haas
    I have 5 cars from new to 10 years old. I do all my own cleaning / polishing. Over the years I have tried all the various products. Clay is great but the most important thing to know is that when it hits the floor it is done. Trust me.

    My current favorite is a 3M product. They are trying to outperform the Meguiers stuff. It is the 3M Swirl Mark Remover part no. 39009. The 3M stuff is hard to find as it is new. This product states it is for dark colored cars. I just used it on my wife's black 3 year old Mercedes SL 600. Good as new, maybe better. Then I used it on my 10 year old white MB 600 SEL. Again, better than new.

    I first washed the cars with Dawn dishwashing detergent lightly to remove the dirt. I then washed it again with some elbow grease to remove the remainder of the old wax. Finally I used hand rubbing on the wife's smaller car and the machine on the big white Mercedes. This product removes any left over wax, all scratches and anything left over in that paint job, acid rain, chemicals et cetera.

    When I was done both cars were so shinny you would have asked me what wax I used to buff up that paint when in fact there was nothing but the smoothest clear-coat showing with no wax at all.

    Here is the problem. I was told by a friend who uses this stuff professionally that you have to get a wax job on the paint right away for protection. This makes for a long day. The same would be true for a clay job but this 3M stuff is just much easier to use.

    What is truly amazing is the shine after using this product even before the wax. I am inclined to say the waxing afterwards is not quite as shinny. Go figure.

  9. rkrenek

    rkrenek Formula Junior

    Aug 26, 2003
    Plano, TX
    Full Name:
    I've tried the Griots Garage clay and managed to scratch the clear coat on one of my cars. I followed the directions explicitly using plenty of lubricant (speed shine). No luck for me...I won't use it again.
  10. ronr

    ronr Formula Junior

    Oct 30, 2002
    DFW, TX
    Full Name:
    Thanks guys. That is VERY interesting info. I've honestly never heard of the stuff until I read about it here. Makes a little more sense knowing you have to use lube. Warming it beforehand, and kneading it during use is important. And don't drop it!

    Sounds like it's more of a dirt sponge, since you only use it once or twice. I thought your car ended up being covered in clay, and then you hosed it off. I guess it doesn't really diminish in size as much, like a bar of soap, but is just a medium for absorbing "junk" and then you throw it away. Or put it in your flower bed. :D
  11. wash car and dry then use a high lubricated car wash soap or quick detail or a special clay lube and go in back and forth motions turning over the clay and and mashing it around to get a clean side. Then procedd with preping the paint IE compounding to remove swirls etc.

    The best clay I found to be easy to use and did a good job is Meguiars Overspray Clay, Clay Magic Medium and regular. The pinnicle clay was to soft and was left residue.

    Some info clay is used to get the contaiments that etch into you paint like some particles of metal IE rail dust, and other enviromental fallout out of your clearcoat. You use it to smooth the paint before compound with a dual action or rotary buffer so it doesnt catch the particles and produce swirls. Clay will not remove swirls nor will it remove oxidation or paint blemish's. Thats what compound is for

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