Does your car feel silky smooth?
It may need to be exfoliated!
Airborne contaminants are everywhere. Your car’s exterior is exposed to contaminants all day – every day. Driving down the road, parked in the hot sun, driving through construction areas, outdoor painting, acid rain, etc., and our cars have to endure all that Mother Nature and man can throw on it. Because of this, most every car on the road today has an accumulation of fine particulates that are actually stuck to the clear coat. Many times these harmful contaminants are not visible to the naked eye, but you can feel them, and if left untreated they could eat further into your paint.
How Do You Know?
After the car is washed and dried, feel the surface of your car’s paint. (You can magnify your sense of touch by using a sandwich baggie or a cellophane wrapper to feel the paint with your fingertips.) Do you feel bumps and rough spots? These bumps are contaminants attached to the finish of your car. Removing these surface contaminants (road tar, hard water spots, paint overspray, brake pad/rotor dust, bug residue, iron dust, etc.) will improve both the look and the health of your car’s paint.
After summer is a great time to clean, polish, and protect the paint on your car. Automobile finishes tend to soften in the hot sun and become more susceptible to airborne contaminants attaching themselves to the surface. By the way, if you have a white or light colored vehicle, you can see the most common contaminant in this region, brake pad/rotor dust and iron dust particles. If you look close, on the rear of the car, you will see tiny spots that look like rust even after you wash it good. This is iron dust that has stuck itself to your car and oxidized on your paint. Fear not! It can be exfoliated.
Enter Detailing Clay
Actually, clay in many forms has been around for at least a couple thousand years! It has even been known to cure blindness! Here we will discuss a somewhat less miraculous use. Within the last ten to fifteen years clay has become popular among auto enthusiasts and detail technicians for removing surface contaminants from paint finishes, glass, wheels, and trim. Detailing clay is a soft, flexible resin base (polybutene), with various paint cleaning additives.
Usually a clay “bar” is about 3×4 inches and 3/4″ thick. Color will vary between manufacturers and/or grades of clay but light grey is most popular among most detail professionals. The texture and consistency is very similar to modeling clay or play dough. One clay bar can be used on 5 – 6 entire vehicles if it’s kept clean. Dirt is your car’s worst enemy and it scratches paint, so if the clay bar drops to the ground get a new piece.
How is Clay Used?
The substance is primarily used by hand and rubbed over each surface of a vehicle while using a special lubricating spray. (Be sure to wash the car thoroughly to remove all loose dirt first.) The clay bar works as a virtue of its flexibility and as it is gently hand rubbed across each surface, the soft clay flattens out to form to the exact contour, leaving behind an exceptionally smooth, clean surface.
After treating one or two panels (depending on the condition of the paint finish), the clay will begin to look dirty. That “dirt” is all the various contaminants being removed from the surface and being embedded in the clay. The clay should be turned over now to expose the clean side. When both sides are dirty, simply remold the clay and continue “claying” until each and every surface of the vehicle has been “exfoliated.” (I love that word!)
Re-wash the vehicle. The paint finish is now ready for polishing or waxing. Repeat this treatment at least once per year to keep your vehicle’s paint finish in excellent condition.