One of the most frequent questions I get asked is regarding claying. Many people ask if it’s a necessary step and what benefit they get from it.
The best way for me to describe it is by using your own skin as an example. Your skin, like a car’s paint is under assault from the elements each and every day. In order to remove the dead skin cells from your skin (exfoliation), you need something to lift the dead skin cells from your skin to expose the new skin underneath.
Many people use the “poof” or a loofa to remove dead skin.
Well, the act of claying your car is similar to exfoliating your skin. Claying removes embedded contaminants from the paint surface, making the surface very smooth. The clay bar is the automotive version of a loofa.
To use a clay bar:
a) Wash and dry the car throughly
b) In a 2’x2′ section, spray the clay lubricant
c) Break off a piece of the clay bar and flatten it into a patty.
d) Take the piece of clay and go over the lubricated area using linear motions until you no longer hear a “scraping” sound or the bar starts to feel slippery across the finish.
d) Dry off the area you just clayed with a microfiber towel.
e) continue to the next section until you complete the car.
f)When the bar gets contaminated (It will have a lot of black on it) knead the clay to a clean portion and resume claying. On a sedan, like the Maxima, you might have to knead 3 times. If the bar drops to the ground, you will have to chuck it. If you pick it up and try to use it on the body after that, you will scratch the finish.
f)Store them in a container or Zip Lock Bag to prevent drying.
Other uses for the clay bar:
a) You can clay the glass on your vehicle. This removes the contamination on the glass.
b) You can clay the wheels. Wheels are clearcoated just like the paint on the car is. They are under assault from the elements as well as brake dust. After claying, polish the wheels and then put a glaze or wax over them as an added level of protection. This also makes it much easier to clean the rims in the future since brake dust won’t stick to them.
* Time Saving Tip
Instead of using the supplied lubricant, start claying the car immediately after the final rinse. When you finish claying the section, dry the car with the microfiber towel. You’ll notice that you get the same results as if you used the lubricant.
Clay Bar Kit Reviews:
Pros: Very soft and pliable, very effective in removing contaminants, Natural Clay, Price
Cons: Will leave residue on un-lubed areas if you aren’t careful (residue can be removed with a MT and the lube)
I used the Clay Magic kit on the Maxima last weekend and found that the product is very easy to use. I found it very easy to form into the requisite patty and break off pieces from the bar. The bar was a bear to get open because it was somewhat sticky (but that’s a good thing in this case). After claying, the finish felt very smooth and it made the application of AIO a breeze.
Pros: Very effective in contaminant removal, largest bar in the three
Cons: Difficult to shape and break off, Price is highest (Mine ran me around $17 at Pep Boys), I did not get more than 3 good uses out of it before I had to toss it.
The first thing I noticed about this bar is that it was very hard to shape. No matter what amount of brute strength I used, this bar took a lot of force to break apart and/or form into a useable shape. It had gotten to the point where I wanted to use a saw or serrated knife to cut the bar into pieces. The supplied QD is a very good lubricant (I still have some left). After claying my ’94 Maxima, a ’92 Accord, Part of a ’99 Navigator, and an ’00 Concorde, I had to toss the bar.
Pros: Very pliable, inexpensive, QD is a good lube
Cons: Can leave a lot of residue, bar is smaller than Clay Magic
This item is inexpensive but the adage of “You get what you pay for applies here.” I like the fact that the bar is easy to open but the bar is smaller than the Clay Magic and the Mothers. As far as ease of use, the bar would leave moderate residue on the thinly lubed areas. The finish was smooth but not as smooth as the Mothers or Clay Magic. I liked the pliability of the bar but the extra work to make sure that the residue was gone made me give that kit to a friend of mine. I did clay more cars with it than with the Mother’s.
Polishing and Waxing
Many folks use the two terms interchangeably but they are actually two different processes. Polishing refers to the process which removes paint imperfections by use of products that contain abrasives. A good example of a polish is the cleaner wax you purchase at some auto parts stores. When you put some between your fingertips, you will notice that it feels slightly gritty. That grittiness is the abrasiveness that will remove a wide variety of paint imperfections and oxidation. However, most cleaner waxes are very light in abrasiveness and would not be effective on certain other conditions. For that, you would need to move up to something more abrasive.
Warning: Using too aggressive a product can cause damage to your finish if the finish does not warrant it.
Examples of polishes
Klasse All In One, Einszett Paint Polish, Menzerna Intensive Polish
Waxes, on the other hand, do not have any abrasives and are designed to offer a layer of protection for your paint. If you put a true wax between your fingers, you will notice that it does not hve any grittiness. Waxes are a FINAL step in a detailing regimen. Polishes are an integral part of a detailing regimen if your finish has defects.
Cleaning of Tires and Wheels
Another thing I run across in my experience is people who have questions on how to clean tires and wheels properly. This thread is designed to address those questions.
Many stock and aftermarket rims are clearcoated like the body of the car is. This clearcoat offers a level of protection against the elements and brake dust. However, if a cleaner is too acidic, it will damage the clearcoat on the rims and the protection will eventually go away and cause the rim to become corroded.
With the plethora of wheel cleaners on the market, it’s very easy to make a mistake and pick the wrong cleaner for your wheels. I have heard of people using degreasers such as Simple Green or Meguiar’s All Purpose Cleaner to clean rims. If these products are diluted (and I mean diluted greatly), no harm. But if the cleaning agent is more concentrated, you will risk damaging the clear. If you go that route, carefully read the instructions so that you do not risk damaging the clear and/or the rim. Also, many rims are made of certain grades of metals that can be damaged if the wrong cleaner is used on them.
There are certain wheel cleaners that will do a good job without damaging the clear. OTC, I would recommend Eagle One A2Z or the Espree Wheel Cleaner (green stuff). These cleaners are strong but gentle on the rim. I use an all-purpose cleaner (Eiman Fabrik’s Hi-Intensity) which works excellently for both the tires and rims.
As far as the tires are concerned, you may want to consider using a good tire cleaner so that it will remove all the protectants. Bleche-White is definitely not one of those cleaners. Bleche White is known to cause tires to become a chalky, grayish color. You want the tire to be clean but black. I also recommend the use of an excellent tire brush to thoroughly scrub the dirt from the tires. I personally have a Viking tire brush shaped like an arrowhead. This brush works excellently on blackwalls. I also have a wire tire brush for whitewalls or severely stained blackwalls.
Cleaning glass and hemorrhoids have one major thing in common. Both are known pains in the….(you get the idea). Glass cleaning is usually the most difficult part of washing the car because of the interior glass. What makes it so hard is that the vinyl and plastic inside your car emits fumes that leave a haze on your window. Then if you smoke, that makes it even more difficult.
If you notice, there are a lot of glass cleaners on the market today. many folks use Windex on their windows. But the problem with that is Windex (and most ammonia based cleaners) do not cut through that haze very effectively. Personally, I use Stoner’s Invisible Glass and find it to be very effective. Others include Eagle One 20/20 and Sprayway.
Another reason not to use ammoniated glass cleaners is tinted windows. Most window tint is made of mylar and ammonia does not interact well with many tint films.
The three I listed are very tint safe.
Now, you ask what do you use to wipe the glass? I use a microfiber cloth. If you decide to buy one of these, make sure it is a 70/30 blend and it is for glass (I made the mistake of buying a NicSand one for body and used it on glass). If the Microfiber towel is too rich for your blood, use good old newspaper.
When you apply the glass cleaner, don’t go overboard. if you do, you will have a lot of streaking. I would recommend using a thin coat of the stuff and then wiping it down. In some cases, it may take more than one wipe.
Detailing the Dash and Trim
I have used 3 different protectants in my Maximas. The first was Meguiar’s #40. It left a good shine and it lasted a long time but I was not sure on the level of UV protection. I then switched to Lexol Vinylex. In the pictures I have posted, you can see the dash and the other panels treated with Vinylex. These pics were taken before I buffed the dash with a towel.
My current fave for that task is 303 Protectant. It leaves a nice matte finish and has the highest UV protection of all three I have used.
For scuff-marks using something like Stoners Xenit or Tuff Stuff will work on those situations
Tar and Sap Removal
There are 2 stains on a car’s finish that can be very tough to remove if not taken care of immediately. Tar and Tree Sap are 2 of the toughest things to remove from a car’s finish.
Fortunately, there are products out there specifically designed for this purpose. One item is Stoners Tarminator which is strong enough to remove tar and sap but is gentle on the finish. I personally use Eimann Fabrik’s Tar Remover and get excellent results.
Another thing that helps remove stubborn tar and sap is claying.
Information provided by:Prinz