Vehicle paint is subjected to many harsh factors, such as dirt, tar, road salt, bird droppings, brake dust and other common contaminants. If left unchecked, these contaminants can damage the vehicle's paint, not to mention causing an unsightly appearance. In many cases, removing stuck-on dirt may require special automotive detailing products and techniques to avoid permanent damage to the paint when conventional washing methods prove ineffective.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic freezer or sandwich bag
- Quality car shampoo
- Automotive detail clay kit with lubricant
- Butter knife
- Microfiber cloths or cheesecloths
Park the vehicle in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight. Choose a day to wash the vehicle when the temperature is relatively mild, if possible.
Place the freezer or sandwich bag over your hand. Run your hand over the vehicle's paint to detect embedded particles and note the areas where the paint appears rough. The plastic bag will allow you to detect contaminants that cannot be readily seen.
Wash the exterior paint of the vehicle according to the instructions supplied with the car shampoo. Dry the vehicle with several microfiber cloths or cheesecloths; avoid using common household towels to dry the vehicle, as doing so may scratch the vehicle's paint.
Cut the automotive detail clay into several hand-size sections. This will minimize the chances of ruining the entire block if the clay is accidentally dropped on the ground or comes in contact with a greasy substance.
Apply the clay lubricant to a 2-foot square section where the stuck-on substances reside. Palm the clay in your hand and slide the product across the lubricated area of the paint, using a back-and-forth motion, until the dirt is removed. Repeat the surface lubrication and dirt removal process for the remaining areas of the paint, if necessary.
Flip the clay over when the product fails to pick up the dirt. When both sides of the clay surface become contaminated with dirt particles, fold and knead the clay to expose a clean surface or use a fresh piece of clay.
Rinse off the lubricant and dry the vehicle's paint when finished.
Tips & Warnings
- Auto detailing clay will strip the wax present on the cleaned surface; consider waxing the vehicle's paint to protect the finish after removing the stuck-on dirt.