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Video | How-To Clay Bar



In this video, we discuss proper clay bar procedures and techniques. Clay bar is a key component of the decontamination stages of any detail. It aids in lifting bonded contamination off the paint surface, ensuring a smooth, clean finish. Why would you need to clay your vehicle? How often should you consider claying? All these questions are answered as we work on this Tesla Model 3. I hope you enjoy and thanks for watching!

Clay Bar Tools

  1. Clay Magic Fine Grade Clay Bar (conventional clay bar)
  2. NanoSkin AutoScrub Fine Wash Mitt (synthetic clay bar)
  3. Gyeon ClayLube (conventional clay lubricant)
  4. Chemical Guys HoneyDew Snow Foam (alternative to clay lube)
  5. DI Nitrile Gloves (for surface contamination testing)

Click here for more detailing videos!

Video Transcription

Hey guys it’s James, we’re at the AutoNuvo shop and today I want to talk about clay bars. I’ve been talking with clients as I’ve been actually talking with the guys over at Detailed Image and they’re getting a lot of inquiries about how to use clay, when to use it, what does it actually do, all that kind of stuff. So I thought I wanted to do a little demonstration, talk a lot and talk a little bit about it and kind of start off with that. So first off right what does a clay bar really do, right? I’ve had clients you know call me, yeah we use clay it removes some scratches but when in fact clay bar, what it does is it removes bonded contaminants, right, anything that’s stuck on the paint whether it be tar, overspray, tree sap, any of that kind of stuff, it’s going to pull it off the car when you’re using it. So it is designed to kind of give you that little bit of extra oomph, right, in the decontamination process, right, because after you wash the car right the cars going to be dirt free. You’re gonna remove off you know ninety percent of what’s there as far as dirt film and all that kind of stuff but you’re still gonna have if it’s a car that’s been driven a lot, through the winter especially here in New England it’s gonna have some stuff on it right. You’re in the perfect way to do a test is to put on a glove and actually feel the paint right. If you can feel the paint and it feels rough and this the glove will actually kind of heighten your senses is a little bit and you’ll absolutely absolutely be able to feel kind of what’s on there. If you determine that it’s rough that’s a perfect time to clay right. Another thing to think about, if you’re thinking about claying and you’re thinking about okay my paint does need to be clayed, it has a lot of contaminants that need to come off right. You also want to be thinking about do you need to polish it after the fact. Some there are many different grades to clay bars right. There is heavy, heavy grade, there’s fine grade, there’s medium grade and all those basically as it goes up in in grade it goes up and aggressiveness right. So if you have some serious serious contamination there you’re gonna maybe have to use a heavier grade clay but what you need to be thinking about is the more aggressive you get, just like with compound, just like with anything right, the risk for marring the paint will go up right so it might be something where if you use an aggressive clay you’re probably going to have to polish after the fact. So when it comes down to when should I clay, at what interval between details should I clay just keep that in the back of your mind right. If you know for example if you just had the car detailed and it just has a little bit of contamination on it obviously you wouldn’t want to be using a very aggressive clay bar. Do you want to use something very very fine just to remove a little bit of contamination and then that maybe that’s just kind of a spot clay treatment, just something to think about. For us especially here at AutoNuvo we owe it as part of our decontamination process which involves you know de-iron de-tar, clay all those three kind of core things, clay is kind of the last component right. So where the clay is picking up whatever basically chemicals didn’t remove and the way we do that is we do it actually a little bit differently we foam the whole car down with shampoo and use the shampoo as a clay lubricant, which is a great way to save a lot of money. Using a quick detailer is awesome, it’s a perfect lubricant but if you want to save a few bucks not using a product that’s a little bit expensive can help and soap is soap is relatively cheap. It is a great way to save a couple of dollars in your overall wash process if you’re a professional or if if you’re an enthusiast but I wanted to kind of just go over some basic techniques about traditional clay bars right. So, if you’re gonna use it as a quick detailer, with the quick detailer I should say, what I do is I’ll basically spray the surface right. You want a nice you obviously want to make sure that this paint is clean so you’ve already done your wash. If you’re going to use the the the soap method right right after the wash while the paint is still wet you would be foaming the car down and going right into your clay method. In this case imagine the car is completely clean, it’s now dried and we’re going into the spray lubricant as part of our clay method right. So, as we’re playing I kind of I you know this is for example the clay magic clay fine grade one of my absolute favorites. What I do is I kind of kneed it and kind of basically create like a pancake right. And as I glide over the surface, I’m using very very light pressure and I’m kind of letting the friction do all the work. You never really want to go crazy pressure that’ll just increase the risk of marring. You want to let that clay you want to add lubricant as needed that is kind of the key to reducing marring is the lubrication part of it but you just want to be going over the surface and as you glide the clay over it’s gonna pick up any contaminants. And the nice a little trick that we like to do here is we’ll follow up with it with the with one hand and a glove to kind of almost inspect what we if we picked up everything right. So, I’m kind of going over with the clay and then kind of just feeling it with the glove and just making sure that everything’s gone a little trick that we’ve used that’s been super important it’s super important. But outside of clay being a great tool in removing contamination, in creating smooth paint, it really kind of sets the foundation for a detail, for a clear bra installation right because for example say we’re gonna put clear bra on here we can’t have little specks of contamination in the paint right. If we put clear bra down you’re gonna see all those little pieces of contamination. Same thing for a detail if you were gonna compound your paint and you were gonna say get a microfiber cutting pad and some you know M100 compound what have you reckon you were gonna go right into correcting the paint but you didn’t clay guess where all those contaminants are going to go. They’re gonna go into the pad, clog the pad and you’re gonna that’s gonna reduce your the performance of that combination so really when it comes down to is preparation, preparation, preparation. In this claying is such a key piece and just preparing for any level of detail that you’re doing and it’s it’s super important. And nowadays they’re synthetic clay, there’s there’s there’s clay mitts, there’s clay towels which are an absolutely awesome alternative to traditional clay. I vote, I’ve been a little bit stuck on traditional clay only because I I love that I can kind of get in little nooks. I just find I could have more flexibility with it which is pretty cool. Clay mitts though on the other hand are awesome because I could you know I can literally drop a clay in on the ground rinse it out and I’m back. If I drop this on the ground it’s toast right, I have to throw it away because this is designed to pick up, well if I drop it on the ground there’s dust all over the place, guess what’s gonna happen, the dust is gonna go right in there. So, for me clay super important does a great job. Just to kind of recap a little bit, clay picks up a ton of contaminants it prepares the surface for the next level whether it be a detail what have you and kind of really sets the tone. So, if you have any questions please comment below, would love to get your feedback. I want would love to hear you know what clay do you like most? Do you like mitts, do you like the towels? They even obviously make clay pads that go on polishers, there’s so many different varieties. I’m just curious what you guys like, what works best, excuse me what works the best for you. Thanks for watching see you guys next time.

James Melfi
Holliston, MA
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5 comments on Video | How-To Clay Bar

  1. David G. says:

    de-iron —> de-tar —-> clay
    de-tar —> de-iron —> clay

    Which ordering process do use for the decontamination process?


    • james melfi says:

      Hey David,

      Decontamination Wash Process
      1. Wash Process
      2. Iron Remover
      3. Clay
      4. Tar Remover
      5. Final Rinse

  2. Ron Ayotte says:

    I do tar removal prior to the wash process. I foam the vehicle first and allow the foam to dwell a few minute to loosen up any heavy dirt/dust/pollen… then rinse and do a two bucket wash.

    While the vehicle is still wet, I do the iron decon with two separate buckets and wash it again. Depending on how the surface feels, I will either use soapy water of foam the car once more and use that as my clay pad lubricant.

    • james melfi says:

      Hey Ron, Great to hear from you. Interesting, how has the tar removal pre-treat worked? I haven’t tried it during the pre-treat before.

  3. Al says:

    Since we started use clay bars, our car have definitely started looking better. I mean not that they didn’t look pretty good already but you can tell the difference when using versus when we don’t. Good stuff.

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