Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More Clay Bar Stuff

Every car finish shares a common enemy: pollution.  It relentlessly pursues your car from the second it leaves the factory until your car meets its ultimate demise.  It's in the air we breathe, it's on the roads we drive, and it attaches to your car's paint, where it bonds and begins a process of oxidation.


Clay is not a cure-all or a replacement for polishing.  It's a tool for quickly and easily removing surface contamination.

One of the many reasons for using clay is the removal of brake dust.  Brake dust contamination, which attaches to painted rear bumpers and adjoining surfaces, is a metallic surface contaminant that can be removed safely and effectively by using clay.

When contaminants get a solid grip on your car's paint, washing alone may not be enough to remove them.  Pre-wax cleaners also may not be able to exfoliate large particles.  In this case, you have two choices: use a polishing compound, which removes a lot of paint material, or use a clay bar.  Clay isn't a polish or a compound, it is a surface preparation bar that smooths the paint and exfoliates contaminants.

Detailing clay is also very effective on paint over-spray. If the over-spray is particularly heavy, you may want to seek the assistance of a professional. Tree sap and tar specks can also be safely removed with a clay bar.


I frequently see detailing clay marketing information that reads something like this: “…clay pulls contamination off of your paint...” This statement sounds pretty ridiculous when you realize that you must lubricate the surface you’re claying. How in the world do you pull on something that’s wet and slippery? This myth was born from a fear of telling people the truth. Clay is an abrasive paint care system. Yet used properly, detailing clay is not abrasive to your car’s paint; it is abrasive to paint contamination.

Did I really say that clay is an abrasive? You bet I did.

Read the patents on detailing clay and they describe very clearly that it is a mixture of a clay base (polybutene) and various abrasives. The primary detailing clay patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,727,993) identifies three unique elements (claim 57) used in concert:

“A method of polishing a protrusion or stain from a surface comprising; applying a plastic flexible tool to the surface, the plastic flexible tool comprising a plastic flexible material having mixed therewith an abrasive comprising grains from about 3 to 50 m in diameter and; applying a force to the plastic flexible tool such that a polishing force per area is applied by the plastic flexible tool to a protrusion or stain on the surface, and such that the amount of force per area applied to the surface is less than the amount of force per area applied to the protrusion or stain.”

Detailing clay is an abrasive system. If not used properly, detailing clay can cause light surface marring. There’s no need to fear if you use proper lubrication.

An easy way to think about detailing clay is simply this: detailing clay is a “selective polish” with a built-in applicator. Its job is to “polish away” dirt and surface contamination from paint, glass, chrome and plastic without polishing the surface itself. A pretty simple concept, isn’t it? Detailing clay technology has been around for many years, with roots dating back to the 1930’s. That’s when the idea of combining polybutene (a soft plastic resin material) with abrasives was first put to paper.

How does detailing clay really work?

  1. Detailing clay works by hydroplaning (floating) over the surface you’re cleaning on a thin layer of clay lubricant.
  2. When the clay (polish) encounters surface contamination, it abrasively grinds it away.
  3. Detailing clay shears off any foreign material above the level surface of the paint.

Those are scary words to a car enthusiast, but it’s an accurate description. You can see the end results of this “grinding” work by inspecting your clay. Does your clay have large particles sticking to it or does it have what appears to be a dirty film? It’s the latter, of course, and it’s proof that your clay is doing its job gently polishing away contamination.

A big part of my own detailing clay education had to do with what makes one formulation of clay different from another. As it turns out, there is a lot that goes into each formulation of detailing clay. Although most of the clay made today comes out of a single factory in Japan, the formulas can be significantly different, including:

* Clay resin density (firmness)
* Abrasive particle size
* Type of abrasive
* Abrasive density (ratio of abrasive to clay)
* Color

Detailing clay formulation determines the optimal function of the clay and its potential to do damage when used improperly. As an example, professional grade clay that’s designed to remove paint overspray is very firm and contains abrasives equivalent to heavy rubbing compound. Used properly it will remove heavy overspray without damaging the paint. Used improperly, it can leave some pretty significant surface marring. That’s why it’s a professional product.

Most consumer grade detailing clays are designed to be used as an annual or semi-annual paint maintenance tool prior to polishing and waxing. At this frequency, these detailing clay products work great. Simply use the clay as part of your major detailing regimen.

The problem we were beginning to see is that many car enthusiasts wanted to clay their vehicles frequently; as often as monthly. At this rate of use, some consumer grade detailing clay can begin to dull clear coat finishes. After all, it is an abrasive!


How do you know if you need to use a clay bar? After thoroughly hand washing your car, feel the surface of your car's paint. Do you feel bumps and rough spots? These bumps are contaminants attacking the finish of your car. Removing these surface contaminants (road tar, acid rain spots, bug residue, paint over-spray, brake pad dust, hard water spots, etc.) will improve both the look and health of your car's paint. By the way, you can magnify your sense of touch by inserting your fingertips into a sandwich bag or a piece of cellophane.

No matter how well you hand-wash your car, many of the contaminants that have worked their way into your car's paint finish will remain. Have you ever looked at your foam wax applicator pad after applying a coat of wax? What do you think that black stuff is? It's dirt, and you're waxing over it, sealing it in.


Detailing clay isn't new. Paint and body shops have been using it for years to remove paint overspray. Clay is fairly new to the car detailing market, and is very new to the consumer on retail shelves.

In the early days of detailing clay, there was a concern that paint damage might occur if improperly used.  These concerns have been overcome through proper education and product improvements.

New technology detailing clay bars are made of fine polishing particles in a soft, malleable "clay" medium that allows the bar to be formed and kneaded. Some clay makers add color to make the bar more attractive or to identify bars of differing strength (coarseness).

Many clay bar products claim to contain no abrasives. This is stretching the truth. The reason clay manufacturers claim their products don't contain an abrasive is because the general public thinks the word "abrasive" refers only to aggressive, paint removing materials. The fact is that the abrasives in most automotive clay products are so fine that you will not see any reduction in paint gloss. After several uses, paint luster may even improve.

Still, I have heard some horror stories about people ruining a Ferrari paint job using a clay bar. I can see how this might be true if an inappropriate product was used or if the clay bar is used incorrectly.  The critical component to safety is proper lubrication.

Most detailing clay retailers recommend using their detailing spray as a lubricant. Detail sprays work as a clay lubricant because they contain chemicals that prevent scratching when wiping away dust and light dirt. The problem is that most detailing sprays also contain some form of alcohol. Used in heavy concentration (the surface must be thoroughly wet with lubricant), alcohol removes wax protection and causes most clay formulations to break down and get mushy. Once this happens, your clay is dead, and it will make a smeary mess. We also discovered that some car wash soaps will cause the same problem when the clay is allowed to sit in the bucket of soapy water.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sports Recreation: Relieve Stress and Have Fun

The world we live in is growing increasingly fast-paced, stressful, and filled with responsibility. Because of this, everyone needs some time to relax and have some recreation. Our modern way of life also tends to be sedentary, and the meals we eat are often not very healthy. Exercise is a very important component in renewing us. For these reasons, sports recreation activities are some of the best recreation we can choose. There are many options for hobbies to provide sports recreation. You may even want to learn some new recreational sports skills.

Courses to learn new sports recreation skills can be found online and in larger cities. You can learn and participate in team sports through the local Y and other organizations. Team sports recreation activities you might like to participate in include softball, baseball, basketball, and sometimes soccer for younger people. Another team sport you might enjoy is bowling. Regardless of your skill level you can find a bowling team to have fun with.

Individual sports recreation activities you can learn and participate in include golf, tennis, running, aerobic dance, gymnastics, and horseback riding. Don't overlook bicycling and weight training too. Many of these sports can be learned at the local Y as well. For some of these, you'll want to have a friend to play against or share your experience. Many runners, for instance, like to run with a friend. Games like tennis and handball really need cooperation for best results.

If you'd rather, you can learn about sports recreation skills online. You can find courses to teach almost any sport or activity you can think of including underwater hockey, fly-fishing, and para-gliding in the Alps! Of course, unless you can get some hands-on experience you'll only have the theories of the sport. Still, online courses are a good way to get a taste of different sports and recreational activities you might someday want to try out.

A really fun sports recreation game you might get a chance to play is ping pong. Ping pong, or table tennis as it is sometimes called, is played on a table with rubber coated paddles and extremely lightweight plastic balls. You must hit the ball with your paddle so that it strikes the table and clears the net before your opponent strikes it and bounces it back to you. One way to become more adept at ping pong and increase your chance of winning is to sometimes hit the ball harder than at other times. This keeps your opponent guessing what you will do next.

Sports recreation activities are a great way to get exercise and relieve stress. They are also a lot of fun. Whether with friends or alone, everyone needs a favorite sports recreation to take part in.

So enjoy your leisure time and check out some of the new SUVs for 2009 to carry all of your STUFF! My favorites are the Crossovers ...

CrossoverGet Photos, Specs, Prices & More on Every 2009 Ford CUV.www.FordVehicles.com

The 2009 Honda CR-VGet more info on the 2009 Honda CR-V at the Official Web Site.www.honda.com

Mazda CX-7 Crossover SUVBuild your own CX-7 Crossover SUV. Search your local dealer inventory.www.MazdaUSA.com

Suzuki Crossover VehicleThe 2008 Suzuki SX4 Crossover. See Prices, Specs, Pictures & More.www.suzukiauto.com

Crossover VehicleExpert advice & consumer reviews on new & used Crossovers - MSN Autos.Autos.MSN.com/vans

Crossover Vehicles guideLooking to find Crossover Vehicles? See our Crossover Vehicles guide.UsMilitarySurplus.com

Crossover VehiclesSearching For Crossover Vehicles? Fast And Informative.straptest.com

Crossover VehiclesCrossover Vehicles online. We have the answers.communitymercantile.com

Crossover VehiclesSearching For Crossover Vehicles? See Our Crossover Vehicles Guide.kellyscornerstore.com

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wax or Sealant? Paint Cleaning Clay ...

Your Every Day Driver vs. The Garage King

The products you select to protect your vehicle's paint for longevity should be determined by answering a few questions. (1) Is this your beloved weekend/show car/crazy in love with car or your daily driver that takes a lot of abuse? (2) Do you have time to wax your car every quarter or do you only have just enough time to wash it once or twice a month? (3) Do you park outside most of the time or is the car parked indoors at work and at home? (4) Do you cheat by going through a car wash every once in a while rather than washing by hand? (5) Do you expect the finish to be perfect, swirl-free with incredible depth, color and clarity, or are you willing to have a finish with awesome gloss, the majority of the swirl marks removed or hidden, and a year's worth of protection with very little effort?

The answers ... select a Carnauba Wax if you have time every quarter to wax, park the car indoors at home and use a car cover at work and you never, ever run it through a car wash. Select a Paint Sealant or One-Step Sealant if this is your daily driver and you need maximum protection from the elements for up to one year. Paint sealants go on quickly, enhances your paint, and hides the majority of your swirl marks.

TIP: Some scratches are too deep to remove. Once you have polished and rounded off the edges, fill the scratch with Sealant or Wax to hide the imperfection.

Paint Cleaning Clay ...
If you don't understand what a Paint Cleaning Clay product does or are too nervous to try it are missing out on some amazing results. Paint Cleaning Clay removes all the contaminants that sit on top of your paint. (1) with this one step your paint will never be smoother, (2) will be totally clean and ready to wax, (3) you will eliminate the laborious step of polishing your paint just to get it clean.

First, wash your car and dry it off. Run your fingertips over your paint. Does it feel smooth? Or can you feel tiny bumps? Contaminants are most noticeable on the rear or lower side panels of your vehicle. What you are feeling is an accumulation of fall-out, road tar, dirt, grime, grease and oil that sticks to your paint after miles of driving. Other culprits of this gritty feeling are paint over-spray, acid rain, bird droppings, bug jerky, rail dust, and tree sap. Check the vehicles glass and you will discover that is also covered with contaminants that clay will remove.

Most folks figure a good hand polishing is needed to remove this roughness and clean the paint to get it ready for waxing. But polishing reduces the depth of the paint and is totally unnecessary unless you are trying to remove a scratch. If you are just trying to clean the paint to get it ready for waxing, then use paint cleaning clay before waxing.

Not only does clay work better than a hand polish, but it removes more contaminants and is also a lot less work. the clay is a very pliable bar, and its sticky nature enables the clay to pick up and hold onto the contaminant as it glides across the surface. To get it to glide across the surface, you must use a lubricant.

Tip: As the clay slides over your paint, it picks up contaminants that are stuck to the surface that even polish can remove. Use a clay that is bright in color so you can see exactly what's coming off of your paint. As the bar gets dirty, just knead it a bit and flatten it out into another fresh patty. Most bars clean about 7 vehicles depending on the amount of contamination on the surface.