Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Claying before waxing?

steilkurve

Member
Mar 28, 2015
877
277
Montreal, Canada
I’ve got an 8-month old black P85D. I’ve never waxed it and am ready to do so. I only wash it myself with the two-bucket method preceded by a good foaming and I always blow dry it. And the car sleeps in my garage. All this to say the paint looks, to my novice eyes anyway, pretty darn good. Still shines, no swirl marks. So, here comes my question. Should I clay it before my first wax? I know many recommend it but because the paint looks good and I wouldn’t want to make it any worse by my limited claying skills, do you think I could skip the step and go straight to waxing? Thanks in advance for the thoughts.
 

JPP

Active Member
Feb 4, 2013
3,059
1,287
SF Bay Area, CA
I am not a car care pro, and with our 2 Model S I have abandoned 'self service'. My S has OptiCoat Pro and my wife's has cQuartz. No more claying/waxing. That said, I used to care for our black cars for many years, using Griot's Garage products. You can go to their site and read up. In short, yes, clay your car first to remove all small particles/contaminants. The clay itself won't harm the paint if you use the proper lubricant/cleaner and turn the clay frequently (...assuming of course that you have carefully washed and rinsed the car first). Dirty car, bad lubricant, bad old clay bar---yes, you can scratch the car. YMMV.
 

CLLACAB

Member
Dec 11, 2014
454
141
Las Vegas, NV
Absolutely. But don't go to your local auto parts store. Check out something like Griot's. You get a much bigger piece of clay. To see the impact, I would suggest you wash the hood, dry, lubricate well with a detail spray and use the clay bar. Wash and dry. Do one half of the hood and compare to the other side. The side that you clayed should feel like glass. But you are also missing one other step. Use a polish before your wax. This will help bring out the color and remove paint imperfections. Then you should wax. A good wax does not really have any abrasives for cleaning. Strictly paint protection. My favorite for wax is P21S. I like it because you don't let it dry. It gets wiped off while still soft. It's a little pricey, but goes a long way.
 

OlderThanDirt

Member
Apr 19, 2015
235
230
Two Rivers, WI
Driven in winter? Given your location I would be more than a little surprised if you didn't have deposits of what used be called "rail dust" on the car. I still call it that but more commonly in cold climates it comes from the wear of snow plow cutting edges on the highway. These very tiny bits of metal get splashed up on the car, turn to rust and bond to the paint finish. Clay bars used with the proper lube "pull" these deposits off without damaging the paint finish. The rocker panels, lower portions of the doors and rear of the car have the most accumulation. The rear of low drag cars are really susceptible. Hoods and other flat surfaces accumulate more air born types of contamination.

Griot's has great products for this. Most often though my favorite is still Clay Magic which is the original clay bar invented by the Japanese. Which ever one just use the lube the recommend lube and you will be fine. The different brands just tend to be more or less aggressive than one another. Timely proper hand washes through the winter are really helpful in reducing the amount you need to deal with.

After years and years of owning black cars we now have a solid black Model S on order. After delivery it will imediatley go a half mile to have the full front wrapped and Cquartz applied. We plan to spend the reduced cleaning time driving instead :smile:.
 

omarsultan

Active Member
Jun 22, 2013
3,044
9,288
Northern California
Put your hand in a plastic bag like a sandwich baggie or the plastic bags they have in the produce section at the grocery store and gently run your fingers across your paint. If you have contaminants bonded to your finish, you will feel them through the bag, which would indicate a need to clay.
 

steilkurve

Member
Mar 28, 2015
877
277
Montreal, Canada
Driven in winter? Given your location I would be more than a little surprised if you didn't have deposits of what used be called "rail dust" on the car.

I haven't driven it in the winter just yet... Got it right after snow had melted late March of this year. And by the looks of it, not looking like winter will ever come up here! No snow yet and it'll be 63 tomorrow on Christmas Eve. Very unusual for Montreal. We may be needing more EVs on the road... Anyway, we will get snow at some point no doubt.

Thanks for the advice. I will clay. I was thinking of using Chemical Guys' light clay and lube. Any experience with this product? Safe enough for new, fairly well maintained paint?
 

steilkurve

Member
Mar 28, 2015
877
277
Montreal, Canada
To see the impact, I would suggest you wash the hood, dry, lubricate well with a detail spray and use the clay bar. Wash and dry. Do one half of the hood and compare to the other side. But you are also missing one other step. Use a polish before your wax. This will help bring out the color and remove paint imperfections.

Thanks CLLACAB.

Question, do you wipe off the lubricant after you clay or do you wash the car again? I'm tempted by the latter to remove any leftovers safely. I try and avoid drying my car with towels at all cost.

On polishing, I was going to deliberately avoid the step this time around as the paint is still shining pretty good. I just want to protect it before snow and salt hit the street. I was going to do polishing in the spring.
 

CLLACAB

Member
Dec 11, 2014
454
141
Las Vegas, NV
I clay the entire car a small section at a time and then wash with soap and water. It's best to do it inside, like in the garage. Then wash outside. It's important to use a detail lubricant, not water. Water will break down the clay. I have used Chemical Guys for their water spot remover product. Great stuff. Have not used their clay, but I suspect it is good. I looked at their site. Seems a bit pricey. You can get 8 oz. at Griot's for about $20. You will only need a small piece of it - not the whole thing. So it lasts a long time. One thing to remember: If you drop the piece on the ground - throw it away as it will pick up pieces of grit. When done, just put it in a plastic baggy to keep it fresh. For drying, I would suggest you get some high quality microfiber drying towels. They won't harm the paint. And when you wash them - just hot water and soap - no fabric softener. Again - Griot's has all this stuff. Check out their website.
http://www.griotsgarage.com
 

steilkurve

Member
Mar 28, 2015
877
277
Montreal, Canada
Some photos of my car. This is what I mean by paint in good condition. I'll likely clay but why polish?

f6b342a33139c88e1e260474aec05e72.jpg


54882b6465ac5a0fd5cd42471dc777b8.jpg


8cec251ba3fd86900b389b8d47d7448b.jpg
 

CLLACAB

Member
Dec 11, 2014
454
141
Las Vegas, NV
If you have any paint imperfections, such as minor scratches, swirls or any other marks in the paint, the polish will remove those. It also helps to bring out the color. If you have no paint issues, you can try the polish and wax on a small area and then just wax alone. If you see no real difference, maybe you don't need it. I just do it as part of my normal routine. I also use Griot's random orbital polisher and their machine polish. I like their machine polish because it is water based. After applying the polish, I remove it with soap and water.
 

aus

Member
Oct 10, 2014
311
44
United States
It really depends on how much time you have. If claying is pretty fast, but polishing can take a while. Once you've polished, you just stripped off any wax/sealant you have on the car, and now you HAVE to put some sealant/wax on (or both if you're really OCD).
 

bart513

Active Member
Feb 27, 2013
1,342
92
East Hampton
Gorgeous car btw. You really must take great care of it:)
I also use Griot's on my Roadster and am very happy with it. Their website has great DYI videos as well.
 

Odiguy

Member
Oct 5, 2015
12
1
Miami
Does anyone have any experience with Chadwick's triple play? I understand you don't have to use clay and get the same/better result?
 

pdq

Member
Jul 1, 2015
227
161
Philadelphia
I was into detailing cars for many years, and there's nothing special about caring for a Tesla versus any other brand of car. Here's the drill:
-- thoroughly wash and dry the car.
-- use the clay on a small section at a time liberally spraying the area first with a lubricant. You want the clay to glide effortlessly versus sticking. The clay will grab and hold anything stuck to the paint and will show the dirt, so turn and fold often to expose fresh clay. Dry the area when done. When done, run the back of your hand across the surface and it will feel like glass.
-- inspect the paint. If there are small scratches or swirl marks, polish it, preferably with a random orbital buffer using a very small amount of product. As long as you are leaving a wet trail as you go back and forth, don't add more product as it is unnecessary and doing it this way leaves a very thin haze when dry, which you can then use a clean towel to remove.
-- wax the car, preferably with a random orbital buffer the same way as described above, for the exact same reasons.

I've used Griots products over the years. Good products, but pricey. I think products by 3M and Mothers are equally good. From my experience one product over another does not make as big a difference as the frequency with which you do the process outlined above. The thing that REALLY makes a difference is the random orbital buffer. Completely safe, won't harm the paint and makes the job go much, much quicker, principally because you use less product so there's less to clean off, and you let the machine do the work. And, a dual headed unit is even better as it allow you to get into smaller spaces. Here's the one I have used for 20+ years as it's extremely well built and very easy to handle:

Amazon.com: Cyclo Polisher: Automotive

You need to get different density foam pads for different uses, (ex: polishing is firmer than those for waxing) which attach to the heads by velcro.

Hope this helps.
 

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top