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Claybar

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I first tried claybarring my Audi when it was about a year old, and I was unimpressed with the results. A couple years later, after I'd owned the car about three years, I claybarred it again, and that time the results were phenomenol, if I do say so. You can judge for yourself from the pictures on the left. Note especially the reflections on the side panels. You can see my wife's Jeep pretty well!

The feel of the car after it's been claybar'd is amazing. It's silky smooth and feels almost like plastic -- *much* smoother than after a regular wax job. I think the first time I claybarred it there hadn't been enough time for oxidation, pollen, and other contaminants to accumulate, so there wasn't such a dramatic effect.

The idea behind claybarring is pretty simple. You mist the surface of your car with some kind of speed shine product to lubricate the surface of your car, and then you glide the clay across the misted area. The clay picks up tiny contaminants embedded in your paint that you can't get out via washing.

From what I've seen, there are a few common problems that people run into using clay bar.

1. Not getting the car clean enough first. Clay bar isn't for cleaning off road grime, dead bugs, tar, tree sap, or other major dirt. It's for cleaning the tiny stuff that's left over after you've cleaned all the big stuff. You have to wash your car thoroughly before you claybar. If you don't, the claybar will just scrape the big stuff across your finish and put in a lot of big scratches.

2. Not using enough lubricant. You have to use enough lubricant to actually lubricate the surface of your car. If you're not using enough lubricant, you'll see clay come off on the paint, and it's difficult to get that clay to come off.

3. Putting too much pressure on the claybar. You don't really need any pressure on the claybar except the weight of the clay itself. Just gliding it across the surface lightly is enough to do the job.  

4. Not wiping off the lubricant quickly enough. It's best to do small sections at a time and wipe off the lubricant quickly when you're done.

5. Getting claybar stuck to your fingers. As the heat from your hands warms up the clay, it will get stuck to your fingers, embedded under your fingernails, and so on. You can avoid this by spraying your hands with the same lubricant you're using for the car surface.

I used a claybar from Griot's Garage. I've also had good success with Zaino's clay bar. I like to use Meguiar's speed shine as the lubricant with the clay bar, mainly because it has a nice cinnamon smell and the spray bottle produces an unusually fine mist. Griot's Garage also has a good speed shine product. Mother's and Meguiar's both also make clay bar products, which are less expensive and easy to find at places like Schuck's and Pep Boys, whereas you have to order the Griot's Garage and Zaino products online. Sal Zaino recommends using diluted car shampoo, which is cheaper.

See Also

Zaino's Claybarring Tips

 

Email me at stevemcc@construx.com.