Why does your cars paint feel rough?
All car detailers will come across this at some point in their detailing career. You feel a cars paint and does not feel smooth at all. Most people think that when you wash your car, that means you will have a smooth clean surface when you are done and that is just not the case.
At a higher surface level, you have effectively removed the surface layer of dirt and caked on debris however, that does not mean your paint is completely clean.
A common complaint we get from customers is that even after they have washed their vehicles when they run their hand over the paint, it still feels rough but don't be alarmed! This is perfectly normal!
Basically, the rough feeling that you are getting from the paint is contamination that is on the paint at a micro level that is stuck on the clear coat that will not be removed from just a simple wash. Things like industrial fallout, paint overspray, metal shavings and more.
Below, we will go in depth on how your paint can go from the point of being rough to being as smooth as a window.
So you might be asking yourself, has my car always feel like this? is this normal? what can I do about it?
Those are ALL great questions to ask!
Yes, this is normal, basically, over time, you cars clear coat will eventually start to collect containments that bond to the surface and over a longer period of time, it will become noticeable as you run your hand over the paint. Another way you can have this feeling is through paint overspray.
Basically overspray is when someone nearby is using spray paint and the paint gets picked up by the wind and lands on your car. This will also cause your car to have a rough texture to it and with paint overspray, you can typically see small particles on the vehicle as well.
In order to remove this contamination, you need to clay bar the car. Clay bar is a putty like substance used by auto detailers that essentially will remove the surface contaminates like overspray and industrial fallout.
How to spot contamination?
There are a couple of methods you can use to check for this. Before you move forward with any method, you should first clean your vehicle. You need to remove any dirt that is on the car to truly know what the real condition of the paint is so once you have cleaned the car you can do the following things to check.
Method 1: Look at the paint
Like mentioned above, you can look at the paint to see if you can spot small speckles in the paint. That will give you a good indication that your vehicle does have surface contamination that needs to be removed. This type of contamination will probably be overspray that I mentioned above.
Method 2: Run your hand over the paint
This is the preferred method. Your paint should feel smooth with no bumpy feeling when rubbing your hand on it. Usually, detailers will use the back of the hand to rub against it and that will give you a good indication as to if the car has contamination or not. If you do feel bumpiness when running your hand over the car, you have contaminants stuck on the car.
How to clay the paint
Ideally, your next question is probably going to be, well how do I take it off? Good question lol.
To do this you are going to need to clay bar the paint. You could either hire a professional auto detailer to do the job or you could do it yourself.
If you do decide to do it yourself, lucky for you, nowadays there are more forms of clay bar methods than there was before.
Just to note a few here are some of the popular options
Clay bar (what we use)
2. Clay towel
3. clay block
Additionally to the clay bar you are going to need some type of clay lubricant. DO NOT just rub the clay bar the car without any lubricant you will damage the paint doing so.
The most popular and cheapest clay lube you can find is either Chemical Guys Clay lube OR Optimum No Rinse that can be diluted to make a proper clay lube.
Essentially both work the same way, you spray the solution on the panel you are working on (we suggest going one at a time). And then you work the clay bar back and forth with just enough pressure to keep the clay bar on the panel. If you do encounter some contaminants that are not as easily removed, you can try applying a little more pressure to remove it.
As you make your passes with the clay bar, you should start hearing the roughness of the clay as you start working on the panels and over some time, the sound will start fading as you pull off the contaminants from the car.
A side note that if you do happen to drop the clay bar, you will need to throw it away, Yes, that's right, to the trash. I know what you are thinking, I paid this money and I dropped it as soon as I started I can't throw it away. Ill say it again. THROW IT AWAY. Clay bars pick up everything, and when you drop them, it will pick up everything it feel on and when you take that bar that fell and start rubbing it on your cars paint, it WILL damage the paint and scratch it even if its unintentional.
It sounds like a lot of work and it will take elbow grease to get done especially if you are working on a car that has been neglected and where the contamination has been sitting on the car for some time.
Like mentioned above, if the task seems too daunting, you could pay a detailer to do it properly.
Most detailers in our area are charging anywhere from $150-$200 for a clay bar and wax treatment on vehicles and the price varies on the size and condition of vehicle.