If you have a vehicle and you like to keep its paint/finish looking great, please share your car wash & wax routines, tips and tricks, favorite products, etc.
My favorite, but most time-consuming, car care routine to protect and preserve my vehicle's paint finish involves using a clay bar after having thoroughly washed--but not yet waxed (that comes after)--my vehicle. I'll post my short writeup as my own response.
My father introuced me to clay bars and I'm a believer now, at least for preparing a new vehicle for its first wax and for restoring the look of an older vehicle, removing things like road tar and bug residue that are often so difficult to remove.
A clay bar is a sticky, low abrasion clay -- think Silly Putty, but stickier. It is not used on the paint without some sort of liquid product to allow the clay to glide over the painted surface. Any grit, tar or other residue (including old wax buildup) sticks to the clay as it's lightly rubbed against the paint; the grit gets trapped into the clay itself. You do not clay bar a dirty car -- it should be freshly washed or detailed and I find it should be dry, as well, otherwise the water mixes with and dilutes the liquid lubricant that works with the clay.
Most clay bar instructions suggest kneading the bar periodically, at least once per each body panel, to ensure you're working with clean clay. And if you drop it, it's over -- the stuff it'll pick up from being dropped will scratch paint, unless you manage to drop it on grass or your jeans or something.
Each product indicates how long it'll last. The Mother's Clay Bar I typically use indicates it's good for 2 or 3 normal sized cars. Thankfully, clay bar application isn't something you necessarily need (or want) to do often. It's just a good prep for a fresh waxing and when you know your paint's picked up grime (run your fingers across your paint....feel the little "catches" as grime hits the ridges in your fingerprints? After clay bar application, your fingers will glide over the paint as if it were wet, clean glass!)
Sites to check out regarding detailing clay bars:
And there's more on Google, of course...
answered Jul 15 '10 at 12:04
This is gonna sound a little sad, but I don't worry about it. How often does a proper geek look at the outside of their car?
Having said that, I do wash it when I'm planning on doing shots like this one :)
answered Jul 15 '10 at 13:18