Wash and Dry - Many different ways to do this, ideally you want to minimize the possibility of adding swirls and scratches. We recommend Sheepskin Wash Mitts, soap with conditioners in it (Poorboy's World Super Slick and Suds, P21S Shampoo, Menzerna Auto SHampoo, etc.) Get two buckets and fill one with soap and water and another with just water. Rinse the car down, spray the wheel wells, wheels etc. Dip the mitt in the bucket and logically do a pattern around the vehicle using starting from the top down. Rinse occasionally while washing. After your done washing dry with CLEAN waffle weave drying towels. Don't use these towels on door jambs and areas you don't normally wash. I'll use a quick detailer and a microfiber towel for jambs and really dirty areas. Now your ready to clay.
When to Clay? When you're paint feels rough to the touch, it could use a clay bar. If you have deposits of rail dust (even from transport on brand new cars) a clay bar can help remove them. Tar remains, sap, over spray, and other surface contaminants. A simple test is to put your finger in a plastic bag and run your finger over the surface, this will amplify the contaminations you can feel.
Where do I use Clay in the detailing process? Clay should be used right after washing and before polishing and waxing.
How do I use a Clay Bar? Using a clay bar is easier than you think. Work in 2' x 2' sections. Spray on some clay lubricant (quick detailer or shampoo + water solution). Using light to moderate pressure glide the clay across the lubricated surface. Buff off excess lube with a microfiber towel. Kneed the clay bar into a fresh surface every panel.
My clay is skipping, what did I do wrong? There was not enough clay lube on the surface which caused the clay to skid / skip. Apply more lube in that area to remove stuck on clay - OR - you are using too much pressure.
Will claying my car make it look better? The end result of a detail is directly related to how well the car is prepped before polishing and waxing. So, yes, it will yield a better looking car in the end.
I dropped my Clay Bar what do I do? Throw that piece out immediately and get a new piece. Otherwise you will chance scratching your paint! We suggest cutting up your clay bar into 4-6 pieces (with our 200g bars). They will be big enough to still mold in your hands. Some people convert dropped clay to a clay bar for their wheels, but if you have real nice wheels, you still run the risk of scratching them with the dropped clay.
How often should I clay my car? I like to clay my car twice a year (Spring and Fall) however more will not harm the paint. Studies have shown that claying a car does not effect your layer of clear coat unlike the common misconception some have.
Will Clay Remove Swirls? No, a clay bar does not fill or remove swirl marks. It's main purpose is to remove surface contamination.
The Porter Cable speed depends on what step your doing in the detailing process (i.e. polishing, waxing, etc). Abrasive polishes need a little higher speed 4 - 5.5, chemical polishes, glazes, sealants, waxes, etc are applied at 3.5 - 5. If its your first time using the Porter Cable or if your new to detailing start at a lower speed and increase it as you become more comfortable with the buffer. When applying abrasive polishes like the Poorboy's World SSR line and Menzerna's Intensive Polish and Final Polish II your going to have to apply more product than other steps in the process. The amount you'll need with other products will vary tremendously depending on which product you have. A good sealant will require a very thin coating around the outside edge. Apply a circle around the outside edge of the pad (if the pad is brand new apply a little extra till the pad becomes a little more saturated, you don't want a dry pad on the paint). With the buffer off smear the product over an area approximately 2ft X 2ft. With the buffer on the painted area you just smeared the product over turn the buffer on. Work in a logical pattern such as: starting in the top left corner of your 2ft X 2ft square move the buffer at a slow and steady pace left to right, it should take about 5 seconds or more to get from one side to the other. Now move the buffer down and move it right to left overlapping the previous row by 50%. Repeat this process until you have done the entire 2ft X 2ft square. Now with the buffer still on repeat the same exact process up and down overlapping each pass by 50%. This should result in each part of the paint receiving four passes from the buffer. The even distribution of product and heat will help ensure a good thorough and even detail. After you have completed an area make sure that you remove the excess product with a clean microfiber towel, this will thoroughly remove the product and reduce the risk of adding fine scratches. Good microfiber towels are plush and are able to pull the product off the surface as opposed to pushing it around the surface. Polishes will require 2 - 4 microfiber towels (16 x 16 inch) to remove all of the extra product, while sealants and waxes should need about 1 - 3 microfiber towels (16 x 16 inches). If the towel is saturated with product use a new clean microfiber towel.
Greg @ Detailed Image