Mothers Clay Bar...Color Sanding Without the Grit!

Even if you're a primer/suede type of person, you'll want to read the following story, as chances are you've got at least one vehicle in the stable with an actual "gloss" paint job. And those of you with painted customs, pay real close attention!

While a paint job is only as good as its underlying preparation, nothing kills a finish quicker than the elements. No matter where you live, Mother Nature can literally wreak havoc on your car's finish, and unless you keep it parked indoors year-round, your paint is going to break down over time--ever quicker if you don't wash the car after each use. Now, even well kept paint jobs are going to "inherit" some of the elements' offerings, such as dirt, grease, or anything else nature or mankind alike can muster. How many times have you washed your car, even waxed it, only to realize you can still feel that "roughness" on the paint's surface as you run your hand over it? Chances are, many! Well, some might assume that a good going-over with a high-speed buffer and some good-quality compound will take care of that, and for the most part, it's true. Unfortunately, that compound can also break down the outer layers of paint over time due to its nature. So, then, what is the solution? Read on...

Mothers introduced its California Gold Clay Bar paint saving system some years ago after seeing the success professional detailers and body shops were having with the clay-based product. The Clay Bar was created to remove the debris/contaminants imbedded in your car's paint--the stuff the average wash job won't remove. You know the "stuff" we're talking about...tree sap, paint overspray, airborne environmental deposits, even grains of metal. Mothers Clay Bar safely removes all that debris, and does so without hurting the paint. Once you've gone over the paint with the clay, you'll have a perfectly prepped surface ready for waxing (which we'll show, too), as well as a clump of clay that "used" to be yellow!

You don't have to be a car care professional to become proficient with the Clay Bar, or with any of Mothers' full line of polishes, waxes, and cleaners. Along with the clay, we put Mothers' three-phase wax process (Pre-Wax Cleaner, Sealer and Glaze, and Pure Carnauba Wax) to the test, and found our paint job the shiniest, smoothest it's ever been. On top of that, we polished up some of our dulled aluminum parts with their new Billet Metal Polish and shined and protected our tires and rubber with Preserves. Just goes to show that if you've got a part, any part, on your car that needs cleaning, Mothers' Polishes/Waxes/Cleaners has got you covered! And whether or not you choose Mothers as your source for products, just keep in mind that taking care of your car will only add to its lifetime (so change the oil while you're at it!).


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Obviously, you can't polish or wax a car that isn't clean (try it--in direct sunlight even!), so our first order of business was to clean our car using Mothers Car Wash.

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Now, you don't need to go to the extreme of actually "measuring" your soap, but just know that using extra doesn't mean you're car will get any cleaner (it may actually ad to soap residue buildup if anything!). Use a good, clean sponge, get every nook and cranny (inside the wheels, fender lips, etc.), and be sure to keep the car wet. You'll see why we chose to detail the car beneath a canopy.

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Drying your car is important, as you want to avoid water spots. We used a good synthetic chamois to dry the exterior surfaces.

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Now, here's the part that will tell you how badly your paint needs a clay job--just run your hand lightly over any surface, and you'll know how much buildup has accrued that soap won't remove. You want your paint to feel like it did after it was first sprayed (or if it's an older job, at the very least you want it so rags don't leave lint balls when wiped over the surface!).

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Mothers Clay Bar kit consists a bar of clay, California Gold Showtime spray detailer, and a small bottle of Pure Carnauba wax.

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The objective is to keep the paint surface and clay well lubricated with the liquid detailer so the bar picks up the embedded debris in your paint.

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Otherwise, the clay itself will become embedded in your paint!

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You'll know the clay's working the first time you flip the piece over and find it slowly turning from yellow to brown (with a hint of your car's color).

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Treat the areas you're working on as if you were waxing--follow behind with a soft, clean towel (we used Mothers synthetic detailing cloth, which you can pick up right next to all the other car care supplies at your local whatchamacallit.) Use the Clay Bar wherever your paint's finish requires, kneading the bar frequently to best utilize its cleaning characteristics.

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We found the Clay Bar to work well on the glass, too.

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Once you've clayed your entire car (or the areas that needed it most), continue with Mothers' three-part wax system. With the car still in subdued light (never in direct sunlight), work a small area at a time, allowing each wax application to glaze over before buffing off.

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We followed the waxing by using Mothers' Billet Metal Polish on all the stainless, which made a big difference.

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When using any metal polish, rub the surface until you encounter a black residue, then buff thoroughly with a clean cloth.

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Having had such good luck with the Billet Metal Polish, we used it on a set of newly purchased finned-aluminum valve covers that would soon find a home beneath the car's hood.

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Finally, we treated the tires and other various exterior rubber to a good dose of Preserves Protectant.

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When using any rubber/vinyl dressing, be sure to put it on your applicator (cloth, rag, sponge) away from the car to avoid getting any overspray on the paint, chrome, or glass. And try not to apply too much product, as you don't want your rubber/vinyl looking like it's wearing Jeri-Curl!