It is very important to ensure that the surface is contaminant free and smooth to the touch. Any contaminants that remain on the surface will reduce the appearance of the shine and the colour, but can also harm the paint surface and cause it to break down. Keeping the paintwork protected and contaminant free is essential in maintaining a beautiful finish. The clay bar is so effective in the way that it extracts the contaminants from the paint surface you will never know what you did without it.
The clay bar is not supposed to be a well-kept secret. It’s normally sold as part of a detailing kit such as Mothers® California Gold® Clay Bar Paint Saving System, and even though we work hard to promote it, many people still don’t understand. It just works. Try drawing your fingers across the bonnet just after washing to check for contaminants on the surface. Late model paints, once cured, are harder than old-fashioned enamels (especially the clear-coat), and will show minor abuse quickly. Tiny bits of contamination like dust, air-borne pollution, and small metal fragments can stick into that clear-coat and normal washing may not remove them. If you don’t get rid of them, the Grim Reaper is coming for your paint.
First off, the car must be freshly bathed to use the clay, or the bar will choke on all surface bound dirt and possibly scratch the paint. When lightly rubbed over the surface of your clean paint, lubricated by a coat of detailing spray, the clay will pick up embedded particles in your paint that would otherwise remain after washing. Fold the dirt into the centre of the clay bar and move to the next section. Once all contaminants have been removed you are ready for polishing and waxing.
Clay bars pull out and shear off embedded particles and surface-born contaminants with a safe and effective lubricated mechanical action. The clay bar must be sliding on a film of detailer or it will stick to the paint and skip and leave trace clay deposits (which come right off with the clay bar). While using a clay bar, knead it regularly (remould the working surface so fresh clay is exposed). When using instant detailer for clay work it can be wiped off in the same fashion as it would when used as a detailing spray. If the instant detailer dries it can be removed by spraying on more and drying it off immediately. If you drop the clay bar throw it away—period! This is why it’s smart to use only a section of the clay bar at a time, by breaking the bar in half you reduce the risk of destroying the clay by dropping it into the dirt.