Time to Clay?

Black BMW Being Clayed

As the seasons gradually shift again, Spring (and cleaning) is right around the corner. For some this is dreaded, but for the car enthusiast, it’s time to shine. Now if you roll your car out of storage, throw a quick layer of wax on and hit the road, you’re probably going to run into some cosmetic problems in the near future that will take away from your car’s ability to turn heads. The solution? It’s probably time to clay your car.

While we’ve already covered how to clay your car, you might be scratching your head wondering whether or not your car needs claying this Spring. Here’s a quick way to find out…

The Plastic Baggie Test

Sounds funny, I know, but don’t discount the practice just because it involves a sandwich bag. Here’s what you’ll need: your hand, a clear plastic bag (preferably those thin ones that don’t have the ability to close) or a piece of cellophane, and your car.

  1. Place your hand inside the baggie or on-top of the cellophane.
  2. Gently (!) glide your hand and plastic across your car’s paint.
  3. Analyze what you are feeling. Do you feel little bumps that you can’t see? Is the surface perfectly smooth?
  4. Determine if you need to clay. If you felt bumps, it’s time.

So what are the bumps, you ask? Typically when you do the plastic baggie test, what you feel are airborne contaminants (debris) that have been embedded into your paint. These contaminants are usually microscopic, which is why this 10 cent test works so well. Things like sap, rock shards, dust and pollen all can get embedded into your paint’s porous clear coat; and the best way to remove them before they end up causing scratches, swirls, and holograms? Claying. Give the test at try, your mind will be blown, and your car will thank you.