Using a Clay Bar to Remove Paint Contamination
What is paint contamination?
Paint contamination consists of tiny metal shavings from rail dust, brake dust and industrial fallout. This contamination affects all paint finishes and can cause serious damage when left untreated. Paint contamination can be felt as a "rough or gritty" texture on the paint's surface and can lead to tiny rust spots. This contamination can not be removed by washing, waxing and/or polishing.
Where does it come from?
There are three major causes of paint contamination:
1. Rail dust - produced from the friction of train wheels against railroad tracks. Over 70% of new vehicles are shipped by rail. Rail dust can contaminate a new car's finish before it even reaches the dealership. Anytime a vehicle is parked or travels near a railroad it is subject to rail dust contamination.
2. Brake dust - particles produced from the friction of brake pads rubbing against the rotor. This metal on metal friction disperses tiny particles of bare metal into the air and on the highway where it collects on passing vehicles.
3. Industrial fallout - another word for pollution, industrial fallout is a byproduct of our modern industrial age.
Prevention and removal:
Some automotive manufacturers now cover vehicles with plastic coverings during rail transportation. Unfortunately, this plastic only covers 40% to 60% of the vehicle and many vehicles are still transported with no covers.
There is no wax, natural or synthetic, or any chemical treatment that can prevent or protect against this contamination. Compounding with an abrasive polish may remove this contamination but it can only be performed a few times before removing too much of the top, clear coat finish.
The final solution, a special clay bar, was developed in Japan nearly five years ago. This clay safely removes rail dust and industrial fallout by "pulling" it off the surface. It does not "cut" or perform any abrasive action normally associated with polishing or compounding.
When clay bars were brought to the United States several other usages were found for them. Clay bars were found to be effective for removing overspray, tree sap, acid rain & water spots and a variety of other surface contaminants.
Today, clay bars are routinely used by professional detailers and body shops as a simple, safe way to remove overspray and surface contaminants from painted surfaces, chrome and glass.
New PolyClay Formulas:
The latest evolution in this technology is Pinnacle Poly Clay. These clay-like bars are made of entirely man made polymers. These bars perform all the functions of traditional clay bars but have a number of advantages:
1. Poly Clay does not dry out with age.
2. Poly Clay does not decompose with repeated applications.
3. A single non-abrasive grade works on all paint conditions yet is still clear coat safe.
4. Poly Clay is easier to work with. It pulls, stretches and refolds easier that normal clay.
5. Poly Clay leaves almost no residue on the surface making clean-up much easier.
How to use clay bars:
Clay bars should always be used on freshly washed, clean surfaces. Dirt on the surface could cause scratches.
Always use a lubricant such as Pinnacle Clay Lubricant with the clay bar. If a lubricant is not supplied with the bar you can use Eagle One Wet Wipe N' Shine, Meguiar's No. 34 Final Inspection, Eimann Fabrik Clear Pearl or a solution of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of car wash shampoo in a spray bottle filled with water.
Work on areas about three square feet. Lightly mist the surface with the lubricant. Place the clay bar in the palm of your hand and rub it across the lubricated area using moderate pressure. (Hard rubbing is not required) You should feel a slight grabbing at first. As you rub, the bar should glide smoothly over the surface. When the bar moves freely you are done. Wipe the surface with a clean dry towel and continue in sections until the entire vehicle is complete.
As the bar becomes soiled, simply pull, stretch and refold to expose a new, clean side. When the bar becomes totally soiled (dark colored) discard it. A 4 oz. bar should clean at least 10 to 12 cars. Do not use a bar dropped on the ground.
Upon completion, spray the bar with lubricant and store in an airtight container or zip-lock storage bag.
Frequency of use:
Poly Clay will not remove paint or the clear coat finish. It can be used as often as necessary to keep the surface free of contamination and smooth.
Run your fingertips over the paint. If the paint has a rough or gritty texture itâ€™s time to re-clay the surface.
After you clay the surface:
After claying, the surface should be as smooth as glass. Remove any remaining smudges with a clean dry towel. Microfiber towels like our Power Scrubber Microfiber Cloths are perfect for removing clay residues. Mist the surface with the lubricant if necessary to make the final wipe down easy.
If the paint is in good condition and free of scratches, proceed with your favorite wax.
Note: Clay bars will not remove scratches, swirls or dull, oxidized paint.
If you're working on an older vehicle with dull paint and/or surface swirls, follow the claying process with your favorite polish, then wax.