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Clay bars are the an essential detailing tool for removing paint contaminants such as bird mess, tar, iron fallout, tree sap and water marks. But can they be used on a car with a ceramic coating, or will it cause an issue?

You shouldn’t use a clay bar, mitt, or cloth on a ceramic coated car because it will break down the coating, or cause swirl marks. You can use an iron fallout and tar remover instead to safely remove contamination without using clay. Washing the vehicle every 1–2 weeks also prevents contaminants from bonding to the coating in the first place.

Clay Will Break Down the Ceramic Coating

It’s a bad idea to use a clay bar, mitt or cloth on a ceramic coated car because it will cause the coating to break down.

Clay is an abrasive substance. It’s this abrasive nature that allows it to remove contaminants like tar and tree sap from the paintwork.

But this also means that it abrade the ceramic coating. By using a clay bar, you’re essentially grinding away at the coating, breaking it down and potentially removing it entirely.

Even if the coating isn’t removed completely by the clay, it can cause some other issues.

Since clay is an abrasive material, it has the potential to cause scratches and swirl marks. Not only can this kind of damage be inflicted in the clear coat, but it can also cause it in the ceramic coating.

Often, a ceramic coating that has been clayed will look super swirled. This is because the clay itself, and any contaminants it picks up will be rubbed along the coating inflicting damage. It can look pretty hideous, particularly in direct sunlight. You should only ever use a clay bar on a ceramic coating when you are intending to remove it completely. Otherwise, you’ll be causing more harm than good. Now my shop in Sevierville, Tennessee I never even use clay bars, cause i mostly do ceramic coating. Just use an Iron-Remover spray and let it sit for 2-4mins.

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