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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am a big fan of claying a new vehicle, I recently responded to the poll posted on claying a new vehicle so I'll copy over my response

Using a clay bar on a new vehicle is very important to remove stubborn contamination that may have occurred during transit of your new vehicle. Quite often we see new vehicles with lots of tiny specs of rail dust that will not typically come off with a normal wash and dry. Prepping your new vehicle will help remove these pieces of rail dust and other contamination as well as help reveal your true clear coat underneath.

Lets be honest, dealerships do not care about your car the same way you do. They are trying to get you in and out of the door as fast as possible and have every trick in the book to help hide imperfections so you do not notice them until a later date. They often use products that are heavy in fillers and can hide and conceal things such as swirl marks, water spots, bird dropping etchings, etc. By using a clay bar on your paint you will help reveal the true condition of your clear coat and then decide if it needs more attention to remove imperfections.

I always recommend stripping down what the dealer put on and starting with a fresh coat for a couple of reasons. First you do not know what type of product was used, how long ago it was applied and how long it should last. If they used a natural carnauba wax, chances are it won't last longer than 2 - 8 weeks. You also wouldn't want to apply a sealant over the wax because the sealant is not going to bond correctly to the wax and the durability will only be as long as the coat underneath. By starting fresh, either by washing with Dawn, using a clay bar, or polishing, you can be sure you are adding a fresh coat of sealant or wax, which in most cases will be much higher quality form of protection than what the dealership put on.
 

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Thanks for the tip. I bought a clay bar yesterday for a 2006 Elise that I just purchased from a dealer a couple of weeks ago. I was reading the manual and Starshield information it came with last night and it said NOT to use a clay bar on the Starshield. Have you ever seen a Starshield damaged by a clay bar? What's the reasoning behind this? Is a clay bar a fairly harsh treatment? If it IS fairly harsh, how often should you use a clay bar if say you are putting a 100-200 miles or so on it each weekend?
 

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When you clay bar your car, be very careful to use enough lubrication. The clay has to glide over a layer of water, and any dirt on the paint will stick through the water and the clay will scrape it off. Clay is abrasive, and it can scratch your paint. I've seen lots of people ruin their paint jobs by using clay bars improperly. If you ever feel the clay "snag", you're not using enough water and you've just made tiny scratches.

I imagine that Starshield is softer than clear coat, which is why you're not supposed to clay it. I just had my Elise clay barred and detailed using one of the new synthetic clay bars which are less abrasive, and the starshield looks perfect.
 

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Thanks for the tip. I bought a clay bar yesterday for a 2006 Elise that I just purchased from a dealer a couple of weeks ago. I was reading the manual and Starshield information it came with last night and it said NOT to use a clay bar on the Starshield. Have you ever seen a Starshield damaged by a clay bar? What's the reasoning behind this? Is a clay bar a fairly harsh treatment? If it IS fairly harsh, how often should you use a clay bar if say you are putting a 100-200 miles or so on it each weekend?
You just need to make sure that you are using plenty of lubricant (a QD spray is fine). I've clay-barred my starshield, it's not a problem. Clay bars are not a particularly aggressive method of deep cleaning the paint, IMO. As I understand it, clay bars come in various grades, the professional detailers have access to more aggressive clay bars, but pretty much what is available to the average enthusiast is not going to be capable of doing much harm.

Kind of like the diference between a random orbital like a Porter Cable and a direct rotary. The home enthusiast is well-advised to stick with the PC, the chance of doing any real harm is generally minimal (as long as the recommended methods and materials are followed).
 

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I just used a clay bar on my Elise for the first time. I was stunned at the crud removed from a "clean car" :eek:

This was a fast and easy process which produces wonderful results. There is special lube to use instead of water. Speed shine will work well as a lubricant for the clay too.

Fantastic Results :D
 

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A quick addition is to make sure you are monitoring your clay bar along the way by taking a look at the surface constantly. Look to see if it is getting dirty, and look for big chunks of dirt to remove from the clay itself. Once a side is starting to get brown from the dirt it is pulling from the clearcoat, flip over to a fresh side.
 

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Also make sure to use the least abrasive type of clay for the job. Clay works by abrading the impurities away and not by, as it may seem, sucking up the dirt. If you use too aggressive of a clay, you will have to follow with a polishing step. As Mikester points out, most of what is available is low to medium grit.

Some clay bars fall apart when using water and soap as a lubricant, otherwise this is a cheaper method.
 

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The Zaino clay bar works very well with just mixture of soap and water.
 
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