Is Polishing Necessary After Claying Your Car? (Detailed Answer)


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Whenever you watch some detailing videos, after claying the car, detailers always polish it. But, is it really necessary to polish a car after claying it? Today, I’ll give you a thorough and detailed answer to this question.

It is not necessary to polish your car after claying it if the paint is in perfect condition (without swirl marks and scratches) or you recently polished it. However, I suggest you polish it if you want to achieve the maximum shine and gloss of your car. 

That was the short answer, and as you can see, if the paint is in good condition, you don’t need to polish it.

However, after the thorough washing and claying of the car, there are some situations when polishing is essential, and I’ll explain those situations below.

Some Clay Bars May Cause Marrings On The Paint

There are three main types of clay barsOpens in a new tab., and some of them may cause marrings on the paint, which can be removed by polishing your vehicle. 

Types of clay bars:

  • Fine – used for very light decontamination
  • Medium – a great all-round clay bar for most cars
  • Heavy-duty – for older cars that have very contaminated paint

Clay bars are abrasives, and that’s why they’re so successful at removing paint decontamination.

If you’re doing everything correctly, fine and medium clay bars shouldn’t scratch the clear coat or cause marrings.

On the other hand, if you’re using a heavy-duty clay bar, it could cause some very light scratches or marring, so, in that case, you’ll have to polish your car after claying.

Use a Proper Technique When Claying

The most common mistake people make is using a clay bar the wrong way. If you do it unproperly, you’ll 100% cause scratches and marring on your vehicle. 

To prevent clay bar scratching your paint, follow these guidelines:

  • Use the least abrasive clay: as always in the auto detailing world. You should start with the least abrasive product, then, if that doesn’t work, use the more abrasive one.
  • Use plenty of clay bar lubricant: many people make this mistake, and that’s the most common reason for clay bar causing scratches and marring. Always make sure that the car’s paint has plenty of lubricants while claying it.
  • Don’t work in circular motions: never clay in circular motions. That increases the chances of scratching the paint. Just work in straight movements (left-right, up-down).
  • Please don’t use a dirty clay bar: I know it sounds obvious, but many people make this mistake. If the clay bar falls down to the floor, it’ll instantly pick up dirt. If that happens to you, you should throw it away and use another piece of a clay bar to continue working on your vehicle.

By following those guidelines above, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of scratching your car’s paint using clay bars. 

Hardness Of The Clear Coat Matters

Another crucial thing to consider is the hardness of the clear coat. If a car you’re claying has a very soft clear coat, using even a medium or fine clay bar could cause marrings on the paint. 

It’s not easy to tell if the clear coat is hard or soft, but here’s something to consider:

  • Most European and US cars tend to have a “hard” clear coat
  • Most Japanese and other Asian cars tend to have a softer clear coat that’s less immune to scratches

So, if you’re driving a Japanese car and clay it, make sure to thoroughly check the paint and see if there are any scratches or marring. 

If there is, make sure to polish your car.

If You Can, Polish Your Car After Claying

I know that I told you that it’s unnecessary, but if you can, polish your vehicle after claying it. 

It’s not because clay bar may cause marring or light scratches, but it’s to improve the shine and gloss of your car’s paint.

After claying your vehicle, it’s almost 100% prepared for car polishing, and it would be a shame not to polish a car if you have already done all the preparing steps for it. 

However, there’s no point in polishing your car after claying if:

  • the paint is in the perfect condition
  • you have recently polished your car

Using Waxes and Sealants May Hide Marring

So, as you can see, there’s a chance that claying will leave some marring on the car’s paint. Even though it may not need polishing, you should always apply some paint protectant (waxes or sealants) to the car’s paint.

Car waxes and sealants will hide light marring on the paint and protect the paint from UV rays, heat, oxidation, rains, and other external factors that are known for ruining the paintwork.

Related: 9 Best Car Waxes For An Amazing Finish (2021)

Marring is even less visible than swirl marks, and it’s easy for waxes and sealants to hide it. 

Final Verdict

I hope that now you have a better understanding of how claying affects your vehicle and is it necessary to polish your car after claying it. 

Probably, the best answer would be “it depends”; but I hate those answers. So, to conclude, if the paint is in perfect condition after claying, there’s no need to polish the car. If it’s not, then polishing is necessary. 

In the end, it’s on your side to decide whether you’ll polish your car or not after the claying process. 

Both claying and polishing processes are essential if you want to get the most out of the car’s paint when it comes to gloss and shine. Since we’re detailers, I believe that most of you out there will still polish a car after claying it, just to get the best possible finish result. 

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