Whenever car detailers talk about doing a full exterior car detailing, they may recommend that you clay bar your car. But unless you are a gearhead, you may not really know what a clay bar is and when or how you are supposed to use it on your car. We have created this basic guide so that you understand why the clay bar is important and how it really gives your car that brilliant shine that you really want.
So, What is a Clay Bar?
A clay bar is a car detailing material that gently pulls off very fine bits of dirt and sediment that may be embedded in your finish. It has the texture of silly putty with an extremely fine abrasive in it. Using a clay bar will keep your finish looking shiny and clean.
Do I Really Need It?
Well, that depends on how long it has been since you have had your car detailed. If you are always dedicated to keeping your car clean, you may need to do a clay bar very rarely. However, if you have not had your car detailed in years, you will likely need it.
The best way to figure out if you need to clay bar your car would be to wash your car. Then slowly rub your hand along your car’s exterior. Do you feel any grit still left on your car? Do you hear your hand rubbing along your paint? These are 2 signs that you need to clay bar your exterior.
How Do I Do It?
While we do recommend that you have your all your auto detailing done by a professional, using a clay bar is something that you can do on your own if you have the time.
What you will need:
- Clay Bar
- Clay Bar Lubricant
- Microfiber Cloth
How to Do It:
When you clay bar your car, this is something that you need to in sections. Don’t just spray the lubricant all over your car. Start with one small section of your car. Spray a few spritz of lubricant onto that section. Take a bit of your clay bar and stretch it out so that it feels like a small pancake in your hand. Rub the clay bar along your car exterior where you just sprayed the lubricant. Rub the bar in one direction back and forth. Do not use a circular motion. You should be able to see bits of dirt collecting on your clay bar.
When one section of your car has been properly clay barred, move onto a different section. When you are using your clay bar, constantly be stretching and reforming the bar so that you always have a bit of a tacky surface and you are not just using a dirty part of the clay bar to detail your car.
How Long Does Clay Barring Take?
When you do not have a professional team doing the clay barring, it could take a few hours. Clay barring is careful, painstaking work so you need to carve out an entire afternoon if you want to do it yourself. Professionals have the experience and training to efficiently clay bar your car without it taking all day.
Anything Else I Should Know?
Here are some other tips that you should know before you clay bar your own car:
- If your clay bar falls on the ground, throw it away. You do not want any sediment from the ground scratching your car
- The lubricant is vital to the process. If you don’t use it, you WILL scratch your car
- After you clay bar your car, you will want to protect your car by waxing your brilliant finish.
If you ever have any questions about caring for your car’s exterior, talk with your detailer. If you are not confident in detailing your own car, then just have a professional do it. You do not want to end up with huge scratches that will take forever to buff out.