Does Using A Clay Bar Remove Wax When Detailing A Car?


Waxing your car is a significant step in detailing your car. Your car comes with a protective clear coat that keeps elements away, but you still need another coat to ensure your car’s base coat remains safe. Adding wax makes your car look shiny, but it also makes the surface slippery to ensure that dirt and grime doesn’t stick to the surface. 

Waxing requires that the surface of your car be clean and smooth. While normal washing will remove obvious dirt, wax and other stick contaminants will still be on the surface of the vehicle, and this is where clay bar comes in. Does this clay really remove wax?

Does Using A Clay Bar Remove Wax When Detailing A Car? 

Yes. Claying involves gliding along the surface of the car coat and removing any contaminants on the surface. Detail clay is a resin compound with a very mild abrasive that removes contaminants on the surface of metal, glass, and fiberglass.

The clay removes synthetic and natural contaminants from the surface of your car coat. 

Your vehicle is exposed to elements, pollutants, and contaminants outdoors. Some of the substances that clay removes include brake dust, acid rain deposits, industrial fallout, and rail dust among others. All these substances adhere to the surface of your car and can cause oxidation and yellowing of the coat.

Most of these contaminants contain metal particulates, which can penetrate through the clear coat of the car to the base coat, causing yellowing. If not removed, the contaminants can oxidize and form rust, which spreads beneath protective clear coat. The damage starts as tiny orange spots and then spread to large patches of damaged paint. 

When you clay your vehicle, you remove the contaminants, making the coat easier to wax. Normal cleaning does not remove the contaminants, and you need an abrasive to remove the substances. 

The detail clay also removes tar, sap, bug remains, wax, and sealants from the coat of the car. With these substances removed, waxes and sealants will adhere to the surface better. The shine from waxing will be uniform. 

After claying, you need to seal the surface of the car to protect it from elements. 

Types of Detail Clay and How They Work

Detail clay is a resin substance. When it glides along the surface of the car coat, it grabs substances that protrude from the surface of the coat. These particles stick on the surface of the clay and that is how you remove them from the car coat. 

To remove the bonded contaminants successfully, the surface of the car needs to be wet with clay lubricant. This ensures that the loose contaminants particles do not scratch the paint of your car. 

There are two types of detail clay based on their aggressiveness; medium grade and fine grade. Medium grade is ideal when you need to clean your vehicle once or twice a year. With it, you can remove wax and so many other substances along with it. 

Fine grade is milder than medium grade. It is an option for people who need to clay often to maintain the glossy look on their vehicles. Even with its mildness, fine grade clay can still remove everything the medium grade clay removes. 

However, the fine grade clay is mild enough, so you can use it after every few months without causing any damages on the surface of the car coat. 

How To Clay Your Vehicle

To clay your car, you need car shampoo, clay lubricant, detail clay, and microfiber towel. It is always ideal to start on a clean surface. 

The first step is to wash your car with clean water and car shampoo. Clean all the parts thoroughly to remove any signs of obvious dirt. After that, dry the car thoroughly to ensure that the car is ready for the clay lubricant. 

Your surface of the car needs to be wet for the effectiveness of the detail clay. You can use a clay lubricant (recommended), plain water, or water mixed with car shampoo. Being wet ensures that loose particles do not scratch the surface of the car. 

Cut a small amount of detail clay and create a flat oval with it. You only need a very small piece of clay as two ounces of the clay can clean three vehicles. 

Start by spraying the clay lubricant on the surface of the car. The idea is to keep the surface wet – so you can use water if the lubricant is not available. You should start with the upper sections of the vehicle as the wetting liquid will drip onto the lower parts of the car. 

You can start with the hood, roof, or trunk and then move to the sides and lower parts of the vehicle. Rub the clay up and down and side to side on wet sections of your vehicle. If the sections you are rubbing start to dry, spray more water or lubricant on the surfaces. 

Once you clean a section, wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth before moving on to the next section. If the part still feels rough, spray more lubricant and continue cleaning. Once you clean one section, check the clay for particles and knead it to reveal a fresh section for more effective cleaning on the next section. 

If you note that the clay has so much dirt, or it falls on soil, you can throw it away and cut another piece. Particles on the detail clay, even the smallest, can result in scratches that can damage the surface of your car. 

If the damage on your car’s coat is severe, you may need to repeat the cleaning a few times until the coat is clean. 

Does Detail Clay Damage the Paint on Your Car When Removing Wax? 

When used right and only a few times a year or after a few years, detail clay doesn’t have any effect on your car’s coat. Claying is not a something you do after every wash. You never do it unless you need it as the abrasives take a microscopic layer of your clear coat every time you clay.

The clay and wax service that some detail shops offer makes your vehicle look great, but it should not be done often. Wax is responsible for the glossy look of your vehicle after a clay and wax session. While detail makes the wax set better, you never have to do it if it is not necessary. 

Clay is an abrasive product. When you use it, it removes a very thin section of your clear coat and this leaves your car less protected. If you use it so often, you may remove the entire clear coat of the car coat, leaving the base coat exposed to elements. 

If you clay your car a few times every year, go for the fine grade clay as it does not cause any damage on your car coat. If you clay your car after a few years, you can use the medium grade clay. Even though clay is mild and safe, it still causes microscopic scratches that you can only correct after the session. 

When Should I Use Detail Clay?

Detail clay only comes in handy after a few years of not claying your car. If you can feel the roughness of your car coat when you move your hand on its surface, then your car needs claying. If there are contaminants, you will feel the sound of your hand gliding on the surface of your car. 

Should you clay a new car? If your new car has contaminants on the surface, you can clay it. Most cars come to show rooms by rail and this exposes them to rail dust. 

If you are doing a paint correction job, you may also need to clay the vehicle. This ensures you remove all contaminants that may damage your new coat. 

There is a chance that a metal particle may get lose and stick on the surface of the cleaning pad. If that happens, the small metallic piece will scratch the surface of your vehicle. 

To Polish or Wax after Claying the Vehicle? 

Claying eats away a very thin coat of the car’s clear coat. While this doesn’t mean the base coat is fully exposed, you might need to add a coat of wax to protect your base coat. 

Claying also causes micro scratches on the surface of your vehicle. These scratches may not be visible to the naked eye, but they are there. Waxing will fill the scratches and mask them and also protect the surface of your car. 

Polishing cuts away a thin layer on the surface of your clear coat to minimize the scratches. The problem with polish is that it also removes another layer of the clear coat. If you clay and polish severally, your car will soon have no clear coat, and you may need to apply another. 

Waxing is the most common practice after claying. A layer of wax fills the micros scratches and protects the surface of the car coat. After claying, wax sets better and your car will look appealing. 

Closing Thoughts

Detail clay removes bonded contaminants such as old wax, sealant, tartar, and industrial fallout. Your detail clay will not remove scuff marks, scratch marks, and swirl marks. It will also not correct oxidation on your base coat. 

Instead, the clay removes bonded contaminants stuck on the surface of your car. It does that by grabbing these substances and pulling them off. Because it has abrasive qualities, detail clay will cause very small scratches when removing the contaminants. 

After claying, you may not see any visible results because the detail clay doesn’t change the look of your car coat. After application, your car should feel smooth and slippery. After the process, touch your car and feel its smoothness.

There are advanced types of clay that last longer than the conventional clay. These sport a rubber like surface that you can clean if the clay drops on the ground. 

Today, there are several alternatives to clay, including chemical decontaminants, towels, blocks, sponges, mitts, and discs that you attach to a double-action polisher. However, the detail clay is the easiest to use for most people. 

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

Recent Posts