Molding a Profit with Auto Detailing Clay

Auto Detailing Clay Bar

If you’re fairly new to the auto detailing game, chances are you haven’t had a whole lot of experience working with clay bar products. Heck, you might even be under the impression that clay bars are a form of cleaner wax, and that would be an mistaken assumption.

Put simply, a clay bar is a clearcoat paint cleanser. Its task in life is to remove the pollutants that a regular car wash won’t. And it does this without the use of abrasives and chemicals that can and will thin your auto detailing customer’s clearcoat over time. Clay bars shear off the debris that is attached to the clearcoat paint — debris that includes mild acid rain spots, rail dust, bug bodies, brake dust, environmental fallout and paint overspray.

Here at Detail King, we offer our own line of clay bars known as Wonder Bars, along with a juicy fruit-scented detailing clay lubricant called Wonder Lube. We sell these products because we firmly believe that one way for our detailers to separate themselves from the competition is to clay the vehicle prior to detailing. And then build that claying process into the standard pricing.

Best yet, selling this process to your customers is easy. All you need is a plastic sandwich bag or a piece of cellophane. This plastic bag test enables a detailer to show the customer just how badly their vehicles paint is polluted with environmental contaminants. It’s a touch test, and here’s how you conduct it:

  1. Wet a portion of the hood of the car with water or Wonder Lube, then ask your customer to place his or her hand inside the plastic bag or cellophane.
  2. Have them gently run the bag over the wetted section of the paint. Their fingers will actually feel the dirt stuck to the paint.
  3. Next, clay the section and have them perform the bag test again to physically experience the difference. Smooth as silk!

That should do the trick, but if they’re still hesitant, ask them if they remember looking at the applicator they last used after applying a coat of polish or wax to their vehicle. Chances are, they’ll recall it ended up being black with dirt. Then tell them that without a clay bar cleaning, the subsequent polishing job is just sealing in the filth.

Oh, and throw in the fact that claying the vehicle only adds 10 to 20 minutes to the detailing process — depending on the size and condition of the vehicle — and that the extra step is well worth the additional effort and cost. Especially when they consider that keeping a vehicle’s paint properly maintained by claying and polishing ensures the clearcoat paint job will remain in top shape.

Auto manufacturers switched to the clearcoat paint system in the early 1980s due to new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. The EPA believed that a basecoat clearcoat method of applying paint to a vehicle was more environmentally responsible. Through the decades, clearcoats have become more resilient, but they still require claying and polishing to maintain their sheen. And that’s where we come in.

Detail King offers various money-saving clay bar kits. Our selection of auto detailing clay products were created to not only to shorten the buffing and polishing time, but to use less polish product when buffing. That’s because the buffing pad moves much smoother along painted surfaces that have been clayed. And because these pads aren’t contaminated by dirt and invisible pollutants, they require less cleaning or replacement during the buffing process.

What follows is a primer on claying, but first we want to emphasize the importance of using our Wonder Lube clay lubricant in concert with our Wonder Bars — and here’s why:

Some auto detailers use soap and water as a lubricant, but the soap will break down the components of the clay bar. So always use our water-based lubricant, never use a soap and water combination. Our clay lubricant helps the detailing clay bar glide or hydroplane easily across the paint surface.

Also handy are some of the special claying tools that we offer. Claying can be done by hand or by using a special foam pad that can be attached to an orbital polisher such as our Porter Cable or FLEX DAs. Using a polisher to clay the vehicle assures that no spot will be missed. Additionally, it cuts the claying time down considerably.

OK. Here’s a few general rules and fun facts about the claying process for your perusal:

  • Clay bars typically last for up to 20 car washes, depending on the severity of the contaminants and how often your customer washes the car.
  • Claying a vehicle cuts down the buffing time by at least 25 percent.
  • Don’t use a clay bar to remove road paint or tree sap.
  • What clay won’t do is remove scratches or swirls embedded in the paint. It wasn’t designed for that purpose.
  • Don’t store clay bars in a cold place because they’ll become hard and will not be immediately accessible for molding and use. And pour a few ounces of Wonder Lube in your plastic clay storage case in order to keep your clay bar moist and ready to use.
  • Fold the clay bar over and over again until there are no more clean folds. Don’t toss the dirty bars! Instead, use them to clean wheels that feature a factory clearcoat or powdercoat finish.
  • If you drop a clay bar on the ground — toss it away, because the dirt on the ground could scratch the clearcoat. You might want to break a new bar in half so you’ll have a back-up bar in case the original hits the deck.

Our Wonder Bars come in various grades, ranging from light duty to medium duty and heavy duty. Medium duty usually does the trick when it comes to prepping a vehicle during wash up, prior to detailing. Our product for this purpose is gray or light purple.

A heavy duty clay bar is for vehicles suffering severe contaminants and for removing paint overspray. Our Wonder Bar for this task is dark purple in color. And we offer a light-duty clay bar for vehicles that are in for express aftercare service on a bimonthly or quarterly basis. This bar is light greenish blue.

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  1. It’s impressive that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our discussion made at this time.

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