How to Use a Clay Bar

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Over time, cars tend to gather dirt and debris that can’t be removed with just soap and water. For these situations, automotive-grade clay is the best method of removing dirt and grime from your car without scratching the clear coat.
Clay grabs and removes contaminants from car paint, leaving your car shining like it's brand new. Car insurance broker app Jerry is here to explain how to clay bar a car.
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Prepare your car for the clay bar

Step 1: Wash the car. You’re going to want to work with a clean surface before you apply the clay bar.
A straightforward driveway car wash will do the trick—nothing too fancy! Simply rinse the car, wash it with automotive soap, and rinse again. Or, you can always do a thorough wash at home.
This will ensure that the car’s paint is as smooth as possible, giving you a nice fresh surface to work with.
Step 2: Make sure the car is completely dry. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the vehicle.

Apply the clay bar

Step 1: Buy a clay bar kit. Once your car is dry, you can begin with the clay bar. The offerings available are massive, so it’s up to you which brand and style of clay you use.
Brands such as Mothers, Chemical Guys, and Meguiar’s are very popular within the detailing industry, and these can be picked up at your local auto parts store. Try to get a kit that includes the clay bar lubricant—this is a critical component for what you’re getting ready to do.
Step 2: Apply the spray and rub it in. Spray the lubricant first, focusing on small, two-inch-by-two-inch squared areas.
Rub the clay from left to right, avoiding circular motions, until it rubs smoothly across the paint. It might be rough at first, but that’s just the clay doing its job.
Once you no longer feel resistance, you can move on to the next section. Doing it this way will prevent the paint from being altered by stagnant clay bar lubricant.

Apply the finishing touches with wax

Now, you need to wash and wax the car. After you have clayed the entire car, protect it with another wash and then wax.
Clay bars can and will remove any protective coating that was previously applied to your car’s paint, so this step is critical.
Wash your car as you normally would before applying your favorite automotive wax.
Using a clay bar is one of the best ways to restore a car’s paint job. It's good practice to use a clay bar once a month or once a quarter, but be careful not to overdo it. If your paint is already smooth and there's no reason to clay bar your car, you shouldn't.
Periodic applications are best. Some people can even get away with applying a clay bar twice a year.


How long does it take to clay bar a car?

The average time to clay bar a car is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. If it's your first time clay barring a car, it will probably take longer than an hour.

Can a clay bar hurt your car?

Yes, a clay bar can hurt your car if not used properly. This is because clay bars are abrasive. Make sure you follow the steps correctly and you polish your car afterward, and try not to use a clay bar too often.
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