You may have wondered why the paint on your brand new truck or freshly-washed car feels rough to the touch. We’re not talking about dirt, bird droppings or mud that is easily washed off; the rough surface you feel when you touch the paint is dried on contaminants like tree sap or brake dust that no amount of washing will remove. This isn’t great for your paint and it’s pointless to apply a wax or polish on top and expect a ‘showroom-shine’ promised by the manufacture’s label. The way to remove contaminants and get back to perfect paint that is glass-smooth is to use clay bars. You may just have heard of such bars and be wondering why rubbing clay over car paint is such a great idea, or you may have been using them for years. Whatever your level of experience, the technology behind clay bars is constantly evolving so read on to broaden your knowledge.

Smooth-as-Glass Paint

Clay bars remove contaminants like tree sap that have bonded to the surface of the paint. You first need to wash and dry your vehicle, but while you’ll know that dish detergent isn’t recommended as it removes wax and polish, this pre-clay wash is one time to ignore that advice as washing up clay will remove everything anyway. You simply unwrap the small clay bar and stretch it out and start rubbing in small circular motions over small areas at a time. You’ll need to fold over the clay after each small areas as you’ll notice the contaminant are lifted from the paint and held in the clay. While cheaper clay bars will come with bottles of detailing sprays to add lubrication and prevent scratches, higher-end clay bars can be used with only water.

Saving you Time and Money

More expensive clay bars which require only water as lubrication will save you money on shipping costs if you buy them online and you’ve no need to worry that you’ll run out of detailing lubricant before the clay bar is finished. As you clay each small area you know when you’ve finished as the friction between the clay and paint will diminish. Clay can be folded over numerous times so one bar can easily do a large sedan or truck; the provided lubricant with cheaper clay bars may not last as long as the bar! Higher-end bars will also save you time but cutting through baked on brake dust and grime quicker; this further minimizes the risk of scratching. The latest evolution of clay bar technology is polymer clay bars, these don’t dry out or decompose and they are significantly easier to work with due to the ease with which they can be folded and the fact that they don’t leave any residue.

You should re-wash your car after using a clay bar and then apply your favorite wax or synthetic sealant. As you’ve removed the contaminants that would otherwise prevent the wax or sealant from adhering to your car, you not only get a more impressive visual result, but your efforts last longer so you’ll have to re-wax less often. You’ll only need to use a clay-bar once a year, but your car will look better and last longer as a result.