Nearly every car owner wants to keep their car looking as new as possible for as long as possible.
In the past you had to go to a body shop or detail shop if a rubbing compound or wax didn’t remove problems in the paint.
Luckily, this is no longer the case.
Anyone willing to spend a little elbow grease and a few dollars can restore their car’s paint finish using a clay bar.
Pass your hand over your freshly washed car. Do you feel the particles but can’t see any dirt?
These particles might include environmental fallout, tree sap, and even brake dust. It accumulates on your paint and causes it to look dull or create swirl marks and halos.
Looking for the best clay bar for your ride? I thought so! Keep reading. I’ve done a bit of research so you can pick up the best clay bar and have your ride looking like new just in time for the summer.
Best Clay Bar Overall
OG clay bar, huh? Sounds like that’s right up my alley!
The Chemical Guys is a reliable brand and you can count on purchasing a quality product. I have never had an issue with anything I received from the Chemical Guys.
Using a clay bar is simple enough. If you can wax your vehicle then you should be able to use a clay bar.
I love this yellow clay bar because you can see the dirt and other impurities come right off the paint. The dirt sticks to the bar.
You can use this on painted surfaces, both old and new, plastic, metal, even glass! I used mine on a very fine scratch on my windshield and this clay bar buffed it right out.
There is almost no surface you can’t use this clay bar on, including motorcycles, bicycles, boats, you name it!
It can be difficult to judge if you need a light, medium, or heavy-duty clay bar. Start with this one and if you still don’t get the results you want, it’s time to move up to the heavy-duty version.
Some people try to use plain water or a bit of soapy water as a lubricant for the clay bar.
But this is a mistake because it will dissolve your clay bar in a short amount of time. Use the synthetic lubricant that comes with this clay bar and you will be on the right track.
I suppose that’s due to the synthetic lubricant. I was able to do my small SUV in about an hour! Of course, it wasn’t severely damaged.
Some users mentioned that the clay bar has a fine piece of plastic attached to it and if you don’t remove it, you are headed to scratch city!
I don’t recall that mine had that plastic, but I might have removed it without paying attention. Be sure to look for that clear plastic film and remove it before using!
If you are willing to spend a small amount of cash and invest in a bit of elbow grease, you will be amazed by how well this product works.
Best Synthetic Clay Bar
Mothers is another brand name that will guarantee you get a quality product. Since I had never used a synthetic clay bar, I decided to give it a try on my car.
Mothers uses a patented, rubber polymer that removes everything from water spots to bird droppings. That sounded ideal to try on the car.
Like natural clay bars, Mothers states that you can use this on glass, paint, chrome, even smooth plastic surfaces. I will attest that this worked on the entire vehicle.
This didn’t come with any type of lubricating spray as most clay bars do. The instructions say to use a spray wax as a lubricant.
Wow! That is different. Like having your car detailed and quick waxed all at the same time.
This really did work well on the water spots on this car. But some of the other problem areas didn’t come out as nice as I had hoped.
This is most likely better suited for a light/medium duty job and my car is definitely a super-neglected, heavy-duty problem.
Most users feel as I do. This is great for light-duty work. I didn’t even wax the car afterward. I just did another once over with the spray wax.
Some users say that they preferred the traditional clay bar. But to each their own.
Among those who use synthetic clay bars, Mothers brand did come out on top as many users said it was the best synthetic clay bar they had ever used.
Give it a try and judge for yourself. Since you can reuse this about 20 times, it is certainly priced right.
Best Clay Bar for Black Cars
Now this one is right up my alley since I am a long-time Meguiar’s user and I have a black SUV.
I have used this in the past and I’ve always been happy with the results on my black vehicle. I did try the Chemical Guys clay bar listed above. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but nothing works better than Meguiar’s.
The Chemical Guys use a synthetic lubricant and Meguiar’s comes with a spray wax, or detailer as they call it. Maybe that makes a difference.
My black SUV comes out so super smooth and shiny after using this that I sometimes wonder if I even need to wax it. Of course, I do wax it.
I like this kit because I don’t need to order very often, and it has everything I need.
Nearly everyone has super positive things to say about Meguiar’s clay bar for black cars. In fact, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like this!
I did find a few users who say that if your car has no clear coat, the clay bar works great. But the spray lubricant didn’t work because the light blue color of the lubricant was leaving a dull, bluish tinge.
Take note if you have an older car with no clear coat!
There is a good reason why Meguiar’s comes out on top on nearly every review site. It’s got what it takes to give you that showroom shine.
More simply put: Meguiar’s Delivers.
Best Clay Bar for Windshields
While you can use clay bars on nearly every surface, there is something to be said about a product that is made for one specific purpose.
Clay bars designed to exclusively clean glass is denser and thicker than clay bars for paint.
This clay bar will remove mineral deposits on glass (AKA water spots) and environmental fallout.
I like that you can use this clay bar on any type of glass! This includes shower doors! Imagine glass shower doors that look like new without the ugly water spots and white deposits.
You could even use this on the windows around your house. I know some windows get hit by automatic sprinklers and if the water isn’t removed promptly, it leaves those ugly stains behind. You can remove them with Griot’s Glass Cleaning Clay.
The only thing this is lacking is the lubricant. They recommend that you use Griot’s Garage Speed Shine Detailer as the lubricant, but it’s sold separately.
I did find some users who thought that this didn’t work any better than a paint clay bar. Still one or two others who thought this product did nothing at all.
I think you will find that after just one use, your wipers will glide across your sparkling windshield with zero effort.
Do clay bars really work?
In one word, yes! Clay bars really do work.
Think of a clay bar as a paint cleaner, like polishing shoes. You may wash off dirt and mud from a pair of leather shoes, but to make them shine, you need a shoe polish.
Clay bars don’t actually touch the paint surface (unless your car has no clear coat). Tey pick up embedded dirt, water spots, and bird poop, similar to a magnet picking up metal from a surface.
You can wax or polish your car all day long. It still won’t feel as smooth as it does after using a clay bar for a minute or two.
Not only that but after you use a clay bar on your car, you will find that waxing is much easier. Now that the wax has a smoother surface, it will glide on and off, almost effortlessly.
When waxing your car, have you ever noticed that the sponge applicator is grey or black when you are finished? That is dirt and you are waxing right over it.
Clay bars remove everything that is sticking to the surface of the clear coat.
If you have never used a clay bar before, don’t worry.
It’s not difficult. Afterward I guarantee that you will wonder why you never used one before.
Is there a difference between clay bars?
Yes, there is a difference between clay bars now. Not in years past though.
Previously, a company called Clay Magic (also known as Auto Magic) owned the patent on clay bars. This means that all clay bars were the same, they only varied in color and price.
That patent expired in 2013. This means that there are now a great many clay bars to choose from, including synthetics.
Some of the clay used in clay bars comes from Texas, others from Japan. Clay bars are now made to the manufacturer’s specifications. The engineers have determined to be what they want to sell.
Some people like to think that getting a clay bar from another country, such as Korea, means they are getting something special.
The truth is that it’s the company that determines what they are putting into a clay bar, not so much where the clay comes from.
Is a Clay Bar good for paint?
Yes, a clay bar is good for paint.
Every day, even if your car is parked in garages, the paint surface of the car takes a beating from the environment. Every mile exposes your car to sunlight, car exhaust, road debris, air pollution, and other contaminants, such as bird droppings.
Clay bars remove what washing cannot. Some contaminants stick to the paint such as brake dust. Washing, even if you used a brush, will not remove it.
This is where clay bars are invaluable.
Your wax or paint sealant will stick better to a surface that is truly clean. You can only get that type of clean by using a clay bar.
Does a clay bar remove wax?
Yes, a clay bar will remove wax.
Clay bars are designed to pick up and remove anything they touch, including dirt, bugs, and wax.
This is why if you drop your clay bar on the ground, you have to throw it away. It just picked up everything on the ground including rocks, dust, and who knows what.
You can wait until your car is ready for a good wax before you use your clay bar. Or you can simply remove all the wax with the clay bar and then wax your vehicle again.
No matter how you look at it, you will be waxing your car afterward.
Does a Clay Bar damage clear coat?
No, a clay bar won’t damage a clear coat if used correctly.
When used properly, clay bars pick up dirt and other contaminants, like a magnet.
A more aggressive or heavy-duty clay bar might pick up a tiny amount of the clearcoat. The fact is that the clear coat is sustaining far more damage from the contaminants than what a clay bar could ever do!
Learning to use a clay bar isn’t very difficult. You can find lots of videos on YouTube describing how to use one properly.
If you’ve never seen a clay bar, you might be picturing the modeling clay that you made an ashtray out of in kindergarten. But that’s not the case.
Some clay bars look like modeling clay. Others don’t, but they all accomplish the same purpose.
They help to remove very small particles off your clear coat and extend the life of your paint job!