Information Street

Why Clay Vehicle Paint?

 Your vehicle is under constant assault from airborne pollutants. Brake dust, industrial fallout, acid rain deposits and rail dust all can adhere to your vehicle. These contaminants often contain metal particulates, which accounts for the ease with which they penetrate the clear coat to attack the paint below. These contaminants then oxidize, and they allow rust to spread beneath the clear coat. Tiny orange spots today, (see pic below), total paint system failure tomorrow! Detailing clay removes these contaminants as well as stubborn sap, tar, and bug remains in order to keep the paint healthy and vibrant.  Detailing clay works wonders on glass as well. You wouldn't lay carpet over a bunch of gravel in your house, the same goes for putting sealant, wax or coatings over a contaminated clear coat. 

How Does Detailing Clay Work?

 Detailing clay glides along the surface of your paint and grabs anything that protrudes from the surface. The particle sticks to the clay and is therefore removed from your vehicle. The surface being clayed should always be wet with clay lubricant to prevent loose debris from scratching the vehicle.Used properly, detailing clay is completely safe and nonabrasive.Its a much better option than polishing to remove these contaminants because clay doesn’t remove any paint. Clay will pick up particles that polishing processes will either leave behind, or worse pick up on the pad and be reintroduced to the paint at high speed and cause more swirls.

Do You Need To Clay?

 Chances are, the answer is yes. The surface of your vehicle faces assaults from the environment every time it’s out in the weather. Each road trip brings new insults from roadway debris, exhaust films, and airborne pollution. They will splash, mar, and embed themselves in that beautiful paint job you’ve labored over. Vehicles can accumulate these contaminants any time, any place – even at the dealership. 

 The Bag Test: There’s a simple test that will indicate whether or not you need to clay. Wash and dry your vehicle, put a plastic sandwich bag over your hand and lightly rub your fingertips over the paint. If it feels gritty or rough, your paint is contaminated. 

Paint Health


Proper cleaning, claying, polishing and waxing greatly extend the life of a car's paint. Your paint protects the metal underneath. If allowed to degrade, rust and corrosion can wreak havoc on your car with potentially devastating results. This is a close up shot of a lower body panel on a 2013 Honda, you can see all the particles beginning to break down in the clear coat that did not come off with a good washing, and wouldn't have come off without the use of a decomtaminating method like clay.  

Ohio Valley Elements

 Road Salt
In areas that experience seasonal snow fall, road salt can be one of the best reasons to regularly detail your car. Deposits of salt and mud can build up in wheel wells and under the chassis. Given enough time, these deposits can eat right through your paint, causing damage to the chassis that isn't easily repairable. 

 Brine is sprayed on as a liquid. It doesn’t bounce, lands where it’s directed and is 100 percent effective. For your car, however, it’s not better than rock salt.   Car rust and corrosion are caused by acid created when a salt is dissolved by the moisture in the air. Rock salt remains a crystal until the humidity reaches 70 percent, which doesn’t happen much during the winter. But magnesium chloride dissolves when there is only about 20 to 30 percent humidity. Which means that your vehicle, if magnesium chloride is sprayed on it, is wet constantly. The acid stays on your car and slowly eats away at the paint and metal. 

Resale Value

 Detailing a car is a cost-effective service that can quickly improve the resale value of a used vehicle. While customers who purchase their cars from dealerships expect the vehicle to be detailed before their purchase, used cars are rarely detailed before they are sold by private party sellers. By having a used vehicle detailed before showing it to prospective buyers, a private party seller may be able to sell their vehicle for up to $1,000 more than if it was not detailed.  

Another benefit to keeping your car maintained as you own it is it makes spotting mechanical problems easier, and your mechanic is likely to give a little more respect to a visually well maintained vehicle. 

Details of Detailing

Your paint is THIN!

 Chances are you’re driving a new or newer car with a factory clearcoat finish for a paint job.  The factory clearcoat finish on modern cars is THIN.  How thin?  In most cases thinner than a Post-It Note.  The factory sprayed clear layer of paint on most new cars averages around 2 mils. That's thinner than the average post-it note.  The next time you see a post-it note... feel it between your fingers... this is usually all it takes to drive home the point as to how thin the paint is on your beautiful, shiny car. 

Why is this Important?

 Because if the detailer you hire uses inexpensive compounds and polishes or simply scratches your car in the way they wash it and dry off the water, this can ruin your car’s paint job or lead to what’s called, clearcoat failure.  That’s where a car looks like it has a bad rash because the clear layer of paint is flaking off.  Like this. 

 Here’s the deal – clearcoat failure CANNOT be fixed.  The only honest fix is to repaint the affected panel or repaint the entire car. 

Clearcoats are Scratch Sensitive

 Clearcoat finishes are also easily scratched; this is called scratch-sensitive.  What this means is although clearcoats tend to be harder than the old school lacquers and enamels used before 1980 and all the way back to the time of the Model T, they still scratch easily and the scratches or swirls are unsightly and cause your car’s paint to deteriorate faster than it would without them. Knowing how to maintain a new or freshly detailed vehicle is important. 

Know when to say When

  Deeper below surface paint defects, like key scratches and severe Type II Water Spots may be too deep to safely remove.  For most cars and most people, it is better to learn to trust your detailer to make the judgment call as to which defects to let remain versus trying to remove 100%.  Often times a thorough compounding and polishing using premium quality products will reduce the visibility of deeper defects to the point that they are a lot less visible and this is the preferred approach for any vehicle that is used as a daily driver, not a sunny-days-only garage queen. 

Knowledge is Key

  Don't be this guy! There’s a lot more to know about car detailing than simply having a wash bucket, a wash mitt and some car wax.   Anyone can call themselves a “Pro Detailer” but that doesn’t actually mean they know what they are doing.      A true professional has a good working knowledge of the tools, pads and products used to properly and correctly clean and polish the inside and outside of your vehicle in the least aggressive manner that will achieve desired results.

Maintain That Shine

I will provide some instructions to customers who have their car detailed on how to care for their paint so it doesn't return to a poor state as quickly. Customers are also welcome to have a maintenance schedule to bring their vehicles back for Express Details to keep them looking better longer.

Detailing Glossary

Car Wash

 Generic term for removing loose dirt before any other exterior process is performed.  This can include a normal car wash, rinseless wash, waterless wash or the use of a spray detailer.
 

Mechanical Decontamination

 To remove above surface bonded contaminants like air-borne pollution, tree sap, overspray paint or industrial fallout through a mechanical means such as; Detailing Clay, Speedy Prep Surface Towel, Nanoskin Autoscrub Pads, Nanoskin Autoscrub Wash Mitts, Optima Elastrofoam Block, Optimum Opti-Eraser, etc. 

Chemical Decontamination

 Chemical decontamination is an advanced procedure where specific chemicals are used to remove either acidic or alkaline contaminants off the surface or metal particles off and out of paint.  Two common products used for chemically decontaminating paint include the Fallout Remover by SONAX or Iron X products by CarPro.
 

1-Step Cleaner/Wax

 A cleaner/wax is a product that does three steps in one step, this includes, cleaning, polishing and leaving behind a layer of protection.  A quality brand cleaner/wax professionally applied will do a good job of restoring a clear, shiny finish but these types of products will NOT normally remove all the swirls and scratches.    
 It will remove some of the shallow swirls and scratches and leave the remaining swirls and scratches shiny.  The best way to remove all of the swirls and scratches is to use a dedicated compound or polish using a 2-step or 3-step approach.  This requires more time and thus it will cost more for a detailing package that includes these extra steps. 

2-Step Polish& Wax

 A two step polish and wax is a more advanced procedure that will remove a majority of the shallow paint defects like swirls, scratches, water spots and light oxidation and restore a much nicer looking finish overall.  A two step approach requires a person to run a polisher two times over the paint which requires more time than using only a one-step cleaner/wax.  The first step is to machine polish each square inch of each panel and then carefully wipe the polish residue off the surface.  Next the wax or paint sealant is applied by hand or machine and then it too is carefully wiped off the surface.  All these procedures take time and add to the total cost of the detailing service.
 
  A note about moving the polisher too quickly over the surface  The key to good results when machine polishing, (the first step), is to move the polisher slowly over the surface enabling the polish, pad and the action of the tool to do its magic to the paint.     
  Moving the polisher quickly over the surface in an attempt to do the job quickly will not remove the swirls and scratches and will give you the same results as only using a one-step cleaner/wax.  This is where most shoddy detailing work takes place, that is moving a polisher too fast over the surface in an attempt to reduce buffing time.
 

3-Step: Compound, Polish & Wax

 A three step compound, polish and wax approach is an advanced procedure that will remove a majority of all below surface paint defects except very deep defects.  With a three step approach, first each panel is carefully compounded to remove the majority of deeper defects and all the shallow defects.  After each panel or section the compound must be carefully wiped off so as not to re-instill scratches from the wiping-process.    
 After the compounding step is finished, next the paint is polished to maximize gloss and clarity.  Typically a much less aggressive pad and product are used to re-polish each square inch of each panel to remove any hazing left by the more aggressive compounding step while perfecting the paint for application of a wax, synthetic paint sealant or paint coating.  Because the compound and polishing step can create a near perfect finish, the polish residue must be carefully wiped-off so as to no re-instill toweling marks that could show up after wax wipe-off.  (careful wiping requires more time and “care” from the person doing the wiping)
 

Buffing Pads

 There is an incredibly wide range of buffing pads on the market today.  The quality and type of pad used has a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of any machine buffing procedure as well as the end-results.  Quality results depend upon quality pads.  You cannot get high quality results from worn out, dirty pads.    
 Ask your detailer what type of pads they use and any true professional detailer will not only share with you the pads they use they will also show you their pads so you can see first hand the cleanliness and quality.  A quality exterior detail job relies on not only quality compounds, polishes and waxes but quality pads and a professional detailer will factor this into their pricing structure while non-professionals will tend to use worn out pads at a lower charge and this will affect how your car’s paint will look. 

Dual Action Polisher

  Free spinning or non-gear-driven drive mechanisms. DA Polishers are very safe tools that offer very good correction and polishing ability and can also be used to apply one-step cleaner/waxes or finishing waxes and paint sealants.  Low risk of swirls or holograms.  
  Brands: Porter Cable – Meguiar’s – Griot’s – RUPES 

Forced Rotation Polisher

  Unique tool that offers lots of correction and polishing power with low risk of swirls or holograms.  The FLEX 3401 is a GEAR-DRIVEN orbital polisher and unique in the industry. 

Rotary Buffers – Rotary Polishers

  Brands: Flex PE14 – DeWALT – Makita – 3M – Hitachi – Milwaukee  
  Rotary buffers offer the most and fastest correction ability but can at the same time impart their own swirl pattern called holograms.  If your detailer is using only a rotary buffer be sure to ask them what type of pad and polish they “finish out with” to help insure you get a true swirl-free, hologram free finish. 

Car Waxes

 Car waxes are normally considered products that contain some type of waxy substance either natural or man-made or a combination of both natural and man-made ingredients to aid in spreading, wipe-off, protection and longevity.  Not all products with the name “wax” on the label do in fact contain Carnauba wax, the most well-known ingredient used to make a car wax.  Check with your detailer to find out what they use.   Premium quality car waxes will tend to create a warm, deep shine and when taken care of via careful washing can last up to 3 months on the average car.  It’s a good idea to re-apply a coat of wax to maintain protection and appearance quality of the finish before all of the previously applied wax has completely worn off. 

Synthetic Paint Sealants

 Synthetic paint sealants are replacements for a car wax and as the name implies, the protection ingredients are synthetic or man-made.  Premium quality synthetic paint sealants will tend to last longer than traditional car waxes but should still be re-applied on a regular schedule to maintain protection and appearance quality of the finish.