Maybe you’ve been wondering if the clay bar that comes with your new car is worth all the trouble. Is clay bar worth it? Let’s compare the benefits to see if you should spend that $75 on your car.
The additional cost isn’t worth it for most cars, as any scratches or swirl marks will be re-created by polymer waxes and polish in the dealership’s detail department. Additionally, damaged paintwork and fading door jams are harder to repair than scratches made by a blade.
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What is Clay Bar Detailing?
Clay bar is a detailing process used to remove paint overspray, water spots, rail dust, and other surface contaminants from a vehicle’s finish. By “detailing” your car every few months, you can preserve the finish of your car and keep it looking like new for longer periods of time.
Check out: How to handle water spots on your car?
A clay bar is made of a non-abrasive clay material that gently removes oils and contaminants from your car or truck’s paint finish, leaving it smooth and silky.
By removing these contaminants, a clay bar also improves a car’s paint finish by correcting minor scratches in the clear coat. Because the clay bar is non-abrasive, it doesn’t scratch the surface of your car. The process of removal is similar to buffing a vehicle with an ultra-fine polish.
How Does A Clay Bar Work?
Clay bars are amazing little tools that are used to remove contaminants from the surface of a vehicle’s finish. Professional detailers and enthusiasts commonly use them to remove dust, dirt, paint overspray, rail dust, and other contaminants. A clay car is a single-use item – once the clay bar has been used on a vehicle, it can’t be reused.
The clay bar works as a buffer that removes contaminants from the paint finish, and the clay material’s abrasive nature removes any imperfections.
The ultimate goal of clay bars is to remove all of the contaminants from a vehicle’s paint finish, leaving it absolutely clean and pristine. When done correctly, most professionals prefer a car with a clean, brilliant finish – regardless of how glossy a car may look when first polished.
What Does a Clay Bar Do to The Clear Coat?
A clay bar is designed to remove contaminants from the clear coat of a vehicle safely. When properly used with a lubricant, the clay bar glides over the surface, picking up embedded dirt, grime, and contaminants. It helps to restore smoothness and clarity to the clear coat by pulling out these contaminants, leaving a cleaner and smoother finish.
However, following the correct technique and using sufficient lubrication is essential to minimize the risk of scratching the clear coat during the clay bar process.
Is Clay Bar Worth It?
Let me tell you what benefits the clay bar can bring to our cars.
Advantages of clay bar:
1. Removes Contaminants From the Surface
Because the clay bar removes long-term contaminants, it will minimize scratches and swirl marks caused by poor washing habits. This saves you future polishing time and money! As for a polished car, claying actually increases shine because all imperfections have been removed. A simple wash (and dry) with a soft cloth afterward sets the stage for an amazing polish job or wax application. Remember: Detailers will wax or polish a car with clean paint.
2. Removes Contaminants From the Clearcoat
Though the clay bar doesn’t damage paint, it will remove any imperfections or contaminants that have been trapped in the clear coat layer. The main purpose of claying is to remove water spots and other surface debris that can be easily removed with a soft cloth and some warm water. As an added benefit, clay car ensures that your paint finishes will always be clean and new-looking.
3. Increases Shine
By removing surface contaminants, the clay bar also improves clarity and shine. This is particularly useful on older vehicles with faded paint finishes or those that environmental factors like acid rain have badly damaged. The clay bar allows you to remove dirt that has been embedded in the paint for years (which polishing alone couldn’t do), making your finish look new again.
4. Gets Rid of “Orange Peel”
Have you ever noticed a finish on a car that has tiny orange peel-like marks? This is caused by water beading on the paint, but it can easily be removed with claying. The clay bar will restore your paint’s original luster by removing contaminants and restoring clarity to the finish. You may not have even known what an original finish looked like!
5. Repairs Clearcoat Scratches and Dings
Since part of the clay bar’s purpose is to remove surface contaminants, you can use it to repair minor paint imperfections. Simply run the fine clay bar over the damage, and you’ll be amazed at how well this works. Some professionals prefer claying before any polishing or waxing to remove and correct imperfections. The tiny clay particles actually correct minor imperfections in your paint finish that could ruin a finish completely.
6. Makes a Car Look Brilliant
If you didn’t already know, claying actually increases the shine of your car. The clay bar gently removes dust and contaminants from a vehicle’s finish so that it has more gloss than before. Without this clay treatment, your vehicle would have duller paint finishes than it would have had if it was never cleaned.
Will the advantages of using a clay bar, you now know if it’s worth using it.
Disadvantages of Clay Bar
1. Only Works on Clean Paint Finishes
If your vehicle’s finish is covered in bugs, tar, tree sap, or road salt, you’ll first need to remove these contaminants with a bug and tar remover. The clay bar won’t work if the paint finish is dirty. If you’re not planning on detailing your car anytime soon, use a clay bar to clean up the surface before you wax or polish it.
2. Clay Bar Is a One-time Use Item
After you have used a clay car on your vehicle, it can’t be used again. If you’re serious about keeping your car looking new, make sure to buy the correct clay bar for your vehicle and keep it stored in a dry place. How often do you think you will use a clay car?
3. Clay Bar Should Be Used Sparingly (Not Often)
When the clay bar is too saturated with contaminants, it won’t clean your paint finish properly. This means you need to use just enough lubricant (like a spray detailer) to keep the clay bar moving around on your vehicle’s surface. If you feel like you need to use a lot of spray detailer, there’s either something wrong with your clay bar or the surface of your car.
4. Clay Car Removes Paint Sealant
When used incorrectly, a clay bar can take off paint sealants. If you’re detailer or someone who has a knack for ruining your car’s finish, avoid using clay bars in the middle of waxing and applying sealants. It may seem too good to be true to get perfect paint every time, but you’ll still need to polish or wax every few months to maintain a clean finish and protect it from environmental contaminants.
5. Clay Car Can Be Expensive
The average clay car costs about $15-$40. Remember, this is for one-time use. Though this is far lower than an OEM clay bar, it may seem like there isn’t enough room in your budget to invest in a clay bar for your vehicle. If you don’t plan on detailing regularly and only want to clean up the surface, consider using a clay bar once if you haven’t already used one on your vehicle.
Now let’s talk about what to use between claying and polishing. The best thing you can do is wait and allow your paint to dry completely before polishing again.
How Often Should I Clay My Car?
It depends on your car type and how often you take care of it. If your vehicle hasn’t been waxed recently, allow a few minutes for the paint to dry before applying another swirl remover or polish.
Check out: Can WD40 the reason scratch your car paint?!
The reality is the best way to maintain a clean paint finish is to go through the whole process of washing your car, drying it with a microfiber towel, and then waxing it regularly. For those who don’t feel like they have the free time, here are some of our favorite ways for detailing:
Tips for Using Clay Bars
Below are some tips for using clay bars right.
- Clay bar works best on a vehicle without surface imperfections; otherwise, you might damage your vehicle’s paint finish.
- Keep in mind paint sealants can be harmed by a clay bar, even if they are supposedly water-based.
- It’s best to use a clay bar on a vehicle that has been washed and is completely dry (it won’t work if your car still has any dirt).
- Clay bars may take off your paint sealant if used improperly, so make sure you’re using the correct lubricant with it that will not harm your sealant.
- Make sure your clay bar is soft and free of debris. If you can see dirt on it, you may want to get a new one.
- The best time to use a clay bar is when your car is completely dry and still in the shade.
- Always wash and dry your car before using a clay bar for the first time. That way it’s easier to work with afterward.
What are the Best Clay Bars?
I’ve found that the best clay bars are made from a mixture of glass beads and steel shavings. This mix of ingredients helps the clay bar remove dirt and grime from your paint finish without scratching it up or causing it to fade.
The best clay bars usually have a glossy coating, so they reflect light and look new when finished. Some types of these glazes can even “sculpt” your car’s paint finish into a custom shape.
When it comes to selecting the best clay bar for your vehicle, we have done all the hard work for you. Try the following clay bars and be amazed at how much more brilliant your car’s paint finish will look:
- Mother’s Speed Clay 2.0
- Smooth Surface XL Clay Kit
- Clay Bar & Luber Synthetic Lubricant Kit
- Brilliant Finish Synthetic Clay
- MATCC Car Clay Bar
How to Store Your Clay Bar
You can store your clay bar in a plastic baggie or a clay bar case so that it doesn’t get damaged by dust or moisture. While most people tend to store their clay bar in its original packaging, this is a bad idea for two reasons:
First, the packaging will not prevent dust from getting on your car.
Second, you’ll never know if there are any fractures on your clay bar until it breaks in use.
Check out this video to see what clay bars do to your car!
#1 Does Clay Bar Make a Difference?
Yes, if you want to have a flawless finish. This is a great way to make your car look like new again.
#2 Is Clay Bar Good for Your Car?
If you plan on selling your car, using a clay bar is a good idea. The clay bar will help you get rid of all the loose dirt and tar that rests on your vehicle’s surface. This will make it easier to sell your car when the time comes.
#3 How Long Does a Clay Bar Last?
A clay bar should last about one to three weeks if stored in a cool, dry place. It is not uncommon for a clay bar to last only a week or two if it’s in storage from the factory.
#4 Can Clay Bar Scratch Your Car?
You can see a picture of the scratches that occur as a result of using a clay bar. However, most clay bars are made of high quality and won’t do any damage to your vehicle’s finish.
#5 Is Clay Bar Better Than Wax?
Wax is not the same as a clay bar. Wax helps to protect your vehicle from the sun, but it does not remove dirt and dust. You might need to use a clay bar after you have waxed your vehicle for the best results.
#6 Can I use one clay bar for the entire car?
Yes, it is possible to use one clay bar for the entire car, depending on the size of the clay bar and the level of contamination on the car’s surfaces. However, keep in mind that as the clay bar collects contaminants, it becomes less effective. So, if the car is heavily contaminated, you may need multiple clay bars or to fold and reshape the clay bar to expose a clean surface during the process.
I hope I answered all your questions in this article. The world of auto detailing can be a daunting one to master, so I sure hope that you learned something new from this post. Find the best clay bar for your car and achieve a flawless finish with every detailing project.
Hi everyone, My name is Ollie Barker.
As a seasoned auto expert I have 25 years of experience working in repair and detailing shops. I love to share my tips & tricks to all car lovers, so that’s why I’m here at Automotive Gearz publishing my content, sharing my passion. Also, I’ve been giving my recommendations on which products are the best to have on the market. I always thought it was hard to pick the right part, so hopefully I can make that a bit easier for you.
Hope you enjoy your time on my little blog!