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The Detail Department
Detailing tips, tricks to keep your bimmer in showroom condition.

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Old 10-06-2008, 06:43 AM
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hexy27 hexy27 is offline
Location: Charlotte, NC
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Will the clay bar remove oxidation spots from the chrome trim around the windows as well? I have tried seemingly EVERYTHING to get this off and it still looks like crap. Any help is appreciated.
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:10 AM
slojo slojo is offline
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Wash after clay?

Do I have to wash the car again after claying or can I just go ahead and apply AIO?
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:00 PM
edgedude edgedude is offline
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Mein Auto: 98 328iC, 95 528i
I clayed my filthy Alpine White 328iC. It was amazing. I could see the puddles of brown as the clay dislodged the dirt, grime and rust into the bar and lubricant. The clay pulled all the rust specs in the lower panels behind the wheels and in the crevices next to the moldings. It really made the car 7 years younger. Now I have to polish with a rotary with Menzerna IP and finish with Menzerna Micro Polish and wax with NXT. It took me 5 hrs to clay the car but it brought new life to the paint.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:58 PM
KHarney KHarney is offline
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So a Few questions. How long does it take to clay a car (small one like an E93) ? And once done how much time do you have to get the polishing done ? And how long does the polishing take ? Where I am going with this is amd I better off doing like one small area like a roof and then polishing and completing it or say doing the clay the first weekend and then polishing the next weekend and then waxing the following .....
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Old 04-01-2011, 02:22 PM
Cirrusnine Cirrusnine is offline
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Location: Sacramento, CA
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Mein Auto: 2003 530i
Originally Posted by KHarney View Post
So a Few questions. How long does it take to clay a car (small one like an E93) ? And once done how much time do you have to get the polishing done ? And how long does the polishing take ? Where I am going with this is amd I better off doing like one small area like a roof and then polishing and completing it or say doing the clay the first weekend and then polishing the next weekend and then waxing the following .....
That depends on how contaminated your paint is. If it's heavily contaminated it will take longer to clay.
I did a first clay on my 2003 530 and it took about an hour. Second wash then dried and drove into the garage for an application of P21S Gloss Enhancing Paintwork Cleanser (1-hr), then a final coat of Meguiar's #26 High Tech Yellow Wax (1-hr).

So, I'd say between 3 - 4 hrs at a good pace on a warm day where the water and treatments dry quickly. Probably best to go slowly at first until you get a feel for the clay process.

Good luck!
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:56 AM
SFT540i6 SFT540i6 is offline
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Originally Posted by KHarney View Post
So a Few questions. How long does it take to clay a car (small one like an E93) ? And once done how much time do you have to get the polishing done ? And how long does the polishing take ? Where I am going with this is amd I better off doing like one small area like a roof and then polishing and completing it or say doing the clay the first weekend and then polishing the next weekend and then waxing the following .....
I typically clay the entire car which takes 30 minutes or so depending on the condition of the paint. There is no set time limit to get the polishing done. However keep in mind that polishes tend to gum up and dry very quickly. So you'll need to a 2' x 2' section at a time ensuring you wipe away the polish after you've completed each section. In addition, polishing by hand is, for lack of a better description, POINTLESS. There is no way that you will produce the speed necessary to cut into the top layer of your clear coat. With that said you'll need a machine to assist you but this can also get confusing because most of the polishers sold at the parts stores and Walmart are also inadequate and again pointless. They typically have an rpm range of 3k-5k rpm and that just isn't good enough. You'll need to venture to your local Lowes or Home Depot and find yourself a dual action polisher (Porter Cable is the brand I use) what you're looking for is a polisher than produces around 12k rpm. This will provide the speed required to actually polish the surface. Polishing can be a lengthy process especially for a newbie but I suggest that you take it slow to start. I polish using a horizontal/vertical technique that has worked great for me. Basically in my 2' x 2' working section I start off by applying my polish to a light/medium foam polishing pad and before turning the machine on I dab the polish all over my working surface. Doing this will prevent splatter. I then start in a horizontal motion and go over the surface doing two passes. I then switch to a vertical movement and again do two passes. I then wipe away the polish and buff the surface. Then I move on to another section. Once the entire car has been polished you'll need to wax. Waxing generally takes me about 45 minutes. So to clay bar - polish - wax you're looking at a total time of 3-6 hours. Good luck!
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:51 PM
bimmermodel bimmermodel is offline
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Location: lancaster
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Use Aardex snappy wax, and a clay bar. Keep spraying Ardex and use the claybar in a swirl motion. I professionally detail BMWs for a living
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:28 AM
4thBMW 4thBMW is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 540iT Sportwagon
Synthetic clay bar !!!

OK, I posted a responce to "waxes vs. 'sealers' on the E39 forum. I got long winded over some *Four Star Products* detailing products that I sounded like a pitch man. I am, not because I know their pitch man and master 'detailer' and chemist, but because I truly like the products and use some of them. Has anyone here tried their synthetic clay bar? It is a foam bar with one side coated with a rubbery synthetic stuff that pulls contaminants up from the paint like an organic clay bar. guess what? you drop the bar and don't throw it away! I just wipe it (usually on my leg) and keep on claying after my wash. I did use the Four Star Ultimate Spray Wax Plus as the lube and just wiped that off for a little protection kicker over the "Paint Guard Plus" sealer. This clay bar is truly trick. lasts a long time. I now use their spray on Water-less 'Wash' with *polycharger*. It has more polycharger (the stuff that adheres to the surface on a molecular basis) and no Carnuba which the Spray Wax Plus (poly) has some. so, it effectively leaves some more of that synthetic sealer on after claying (which I assume can remove a bit of sealant). I was advised that on a BLACK (sapphire metallic) 540iT Sportwagon like mine or similar dark color, that any Carnuba wax will just melt off in higher heat of sunlight on that surface pretty quick. I'll chime in later as I have just converted to the 'waterless wash'/ lube from the other. BTW, don't use anyone's 'water-less wash' products without washing your paint with soap and water first....or, you will probably just be adding to your scratch collection. Ask me how I know with 2 black cars. If anyone uses the synthetic clay bar, post your thoughts. Oh, the test is to put your hand in a plastic bag and run your finger tips over the paint after the water wash and then after clay baring to feel the difference in surface texture and results.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:30 PM
jhockey18aa jhockey18aa is offline
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Mein Auto: 328XI

Im pretty much sold on claying. The hood of my 2011 328XI has been thru a warzone of contaminents, scratches, oxidation, bird droppings, tar, etc. I've washed/waxed, and had it professionally detailed. Its no where close to the factory finish. I want to make it better than the factory finish.

Last edited by jhockey18aa; 11-29-2012 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 12-21-2012, 06:26 AM
BikeGeek BikeGeek is offline
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Clay baring your car is one of the most important steps of a paint decontamination process. But before you clay you must remove the LSP or other wax/sealants from the surface. Since this is a thread about clay baring I am not going to go into detail of the LSP removal process.

After removing the LSP, begin claying as the first thorough post #4 on page 1. Nice writeup Nick T.! It is key to use lots of lubricant. Not using enough lubricant will cause you to scratch, mar, and severely damage your clear coat. I recommend using ONR (Optimum No-Rinse). This product is excellent for multiple purposes (including washing during winter months or water restrictions). You can use this in any spray bottle and dilute it for many uses. I personally use a Kwazar bottle due to the dual spray ability (you squeeze, it sprays, you release, it sprays) and this really saves your hands if you do multiple cars a day or intend on doing an all-day (...and maybe night) detail.

There are different types of clays depending on the severity of the contamination. I keep several types floating around, all in their own clean containers and soaked in a quick detail spray. There was a product released earlier this year called NanoSkin AutoScrub that has greatly simplified the claying process. If you use traditional clays, make sure you cut yourself a smaller working piece at a time, and if it drops to the floor DISCARD IT! Clay is cheap, resprays are not. If you use the AutoScrub on your DA and it gets dirty, you can wash it off. The reason I bring up the AutoScrub is it has cut my times down to about 20 minutes per car. As a detail hobbyist this is important because it gives me more time to focus on polishing and applying the LSPs post decontamination.

Anyways, as a new comer to the forum I wanted to chime in and offer a small contribution, and if anyone wants more information or product recommendations feel free to reach out! If you are timid about doing all of this on your own, I'm in the north Dallas area and offer my services for far less than what the pros do and I will teach you while I renew your ride!

Good luck and happy holidays!
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:23 PM
craig.robinson craig.robinson is offline
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Location: Miami
Join Date: May 2013
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Miami detailer wanted

Hi all where can I find a moderately priced detailer who will come to my home in Doral.

I want to go clear coat route, though first clay. swirl, & shine.

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Old 06-14-2013, 06:03 AM
craig.robinson craig.robinson is offline
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Location: Miami
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Hi all, found a great (not cheap) detailer in Miami who really "gets it". Lead from one of our 5 series members - thank you !

Here's what he was able to do with my 2005 CLK500 - I was amazed, paint came out nicer than my wife's 2010 328i,

See for yourself here:

Work performed
Canvas top cleaning & waterproofing
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Old 03-28-2014, 08:01 AM
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Mbrown328dx Mbrown328dx is offline
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I think I'm going to try it first on my daily driver(07 Chrysler Sebring) and see how well I do. I'm sure it's posted somewhere but I'm going to ask the question anyway. What are your recommended products of choice?
MFN clothes
Lubricant for clay
Wheel cleaner
Any other products


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Old 06-27-2014, 11:30 AM
Pier7 Pier7 is offline
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Location: Minnesota
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Mein Auto: 2012 335i M Sport
Claying was easy and fun thanks for the great tips!

Finally went for it and clayed my e92 last night. It was easy and fun. You really get to know your cars surface/spot so much more than you normally see when doing a regular wash and dry IMO. Thank you Nick for all the great insights and reco's
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:12 PM
PeteInCA PeteInCA is offline
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Has anyone tried Nanoskin as a clay alternative?
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Old 11-18-2015, 03:01 PM
rjalbright3 rjalbright3 is offline
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Nanoskin is great only when you plan to polish your vehicle before waxing or sealing. It cuts the time of the clay process down to 15min, but also is more susceptible to lightly mar the paint.
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Old 12-31-2015, 09:57 AM
ArjanRDC ArjanRDC is offline
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Heres a blog post I created about clay bars and how to use them a couple months back.



A clay bar is typically made of synthetic clay that allows the user to mold and reuse many times. Clay is used to remove surface contaminants that have stuck to the paintwork and the glass, and cannot be removed any other way. Some examples of the contaminants are: brake dust, paint overspray, industrial fallout, tree sap etc.

When you glide your hand along the surface of the paint, your hand will either glide across smoothly, or it will be interrupted along the way by little bumps on the surface. Those bumps are the contaminants that the clay bar removes. Clay bars will not remove rock chips, scratches, water spots, swirls or etched in bug remnants. Basically anything on the surface of the paint will be removed, but anything that has found its way under the clear coat must be removed with polishing.

Using a clay bar is an excellent way to insure a deep shine in your cars paint. We recommend clay barring every six months to ensure that smooth-as-glass feel.

Below is my 9-step technique for using a clay bar on a freshly washed vehicle from start to finish.

First make sure that you need to clay bar your car. With a freshly washed car, put a sandwich bag over your hand and run it along the paintwork. If it feels gritty or rough, you need to clay bar.
Bring your car into shade and make sure it is completely dirt free. Cut your clay bar into three separate sections. Now you have 3 separate clay bars just in case you drop one (NEVER re-use a clay bar after it has fallen on the ground).

Knead the clay bar with your fingers, and flatten it. You’ll want to knead it often as you work different sections of the car.

Work each 1'x1'; panel one at a time. Use a spray clay lubricant (we’ll be using Xipp) to keep the surface properly lubricated. The clay bar needs to glide over the surface. There should be almost no friction.

Using medium pressure work the panel in up and down and side to side in cross hatch motions. The clay bar may grab a little at first when it’s picking up the embedded contaminants, but will begin to slide smoothly on the paint after each swipe. Once the clay bar slides without effort across the panel, its time to switch to a new panel.

Be sure to knead the ball of clay after each panel. This step makes sure that contaminants that were removed from another panel aren’t grinding across a new section, causing scratches.
After each panel is done, wipe clean with a high quality microfiber towel.

Repeat the same steps for rims and glass. (Bonus Tip: Use your “used” clay bars for cleaning rims and glass. Always use a brand new clay bar for your paint).
Once the vehicle is completely clayed, you should place a wax or sealant over the top to keep the paint protected.
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Old 08-28-2016, 10:00 PM
Ocd619 Ocd619 is offline
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Location: San Diego California
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Originally Posted by hexy27 View Post
Will the clay bar remove oxidation spots from the chrome trim around the windows as well? I have tried seemingly EVERYTHING to get this off and it still looks like crap. Any help is appreciated.
If you get very fine steel wool and glass cleaner, hardly any pressure.
If it's chrome or plasticized chrome it will clean off contaminated areas.
If it's gone to the point of erosion it will help the look. But not fix
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:52 PM
i3Doug i3Doug is offline
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A few tips from a limited clay user

1. If you DROP your clay TOSS it in the trash. Don't try to fold over the bits of stone and sand, just throw it away.

2. I tear off about 1/3-1/4 of a bar, folding it over onto itself a few times then flattening it out so that 2-3 fingers can easily fit on the clay to prevent it from slipping and hitting the ground. Dropping just 1/4 of a bar is less painful on the wallet also.

3. Every few 1'x1' sections you clay CHECK the clay itself for the amount of contaminants in it! If it's clogged up with anything you can feel protruding flip it over and start again. Otherwise you can fold and mash it a few times to get a fresh, clean surface to use. Forgetting to do this WILL scratch your car to death. Clay is cheap, paint aint!

4. Either use a clay lubricant (expensive) or just soapy water (cheap, but harder to work with) when using your clay. Soapy water will need to be rinsed off after doing a couple of 1'x1' areas, but use liberally to keep your paint protected. If the clay hits the paint without lubricant it can really bite into it, and damage it to varying degrees.

5. Check what grade of clay you need for the job you're doing: there's fine, medium and heavy/rough. When in doubt use the least abrasive one and unless you simply can't get something out of the paint stick with the least abrasive type you can get away with.

6. Remove ALL jewelry, cell phones, rings, etc so nothing hits the car and damages some paint. Also, check your shorts/pants/shirt/whatever to buttons, zippers, heavy seams, etc that could also mar your paint if rubbed along it with enough pressure.

On a side not I never recommend using dish soap on a car as it's not designed to work with the oils, lubricants and chemical make-up of car paint. Just a few uses can pull the essential oils or components from the paint. Ammo NYC, Zaino, and others make really great soaps for protecting your paint and keeping it looking good for many years.
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Old 04-13-2017, 06:27 AM
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Doug Huffman Doug Huffman is offline
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Location: Washington Island, Wisconsin, thru Death's Door
Join Date: Apr 2015
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Mein Auto: 2012 Feb 11 X5 35d (E70)
Dish soap isn't soap but detergent. Detergents like DAWN are used to de-grease/de-wax prior to claying and polishing. Soap is easily made. Detergents are cheap.

I use brand names only when I can't find/get the generic chemical compound.
I am responsible for what I write, not for your understanding of it.

Last edited by Doug Huffman; 04-13-2017 at 06:28 AM.
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Old 04-13-2017, 06:36 AM
southcoastguy southcoastguy is offline
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Here is my technique and I detail cars as a hobby. I was the car but don't rinse. I use the claybar and the soapy wash water as a lubricant. There is absolutely no need to use anything else as a lubricant. I use broad strokes with minimal pressure, and harder pressure where I see (or feel) something. Then I rewash the car and rinse. Result is an ultra-clean car.
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Old 05-18-2017, 03:47 PM
coolrockdaddy coolrockdaddy is offline
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Nanoskin pads work as well as clay bar and can be rinsed off if dropped on the ground. About $30 but they last for dozens of times and can be used with 6" orbital polisher for excellent results.

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