Iron and fallout removers offer a rewarding experience when it comes to detailing your vehicle. If you’re not familiar with them, you simply spray them on the surface and if any iron comes into contact, it changes color (typically red or purple) as it dwells and runs off. Now the question arises, how frequently should we be using these products?
When Should You Employ an Iron Remover?
Determining how often you need to utilize an iron remover depends on how your car is treated. If your car is frequently parked near a railway or has brake pads that produce a lot of dust, you will need to use it more regularly.
For a normal car that is well cared for, you typically won’t need to use any type of contamination removal method, such as an iron remover or clay bar, very often. Regularly washing your vehicle will prevent contaminants from building up, eliminating the need for such products.
However, there are certain scenarios where the use of an iron remover is essential. For instance, before applying a ceramic coating, it is crucial to ensure that the paint surface is as clean as possible, which may require a few extra steps.
Using an iron remover guarantees that there are no hidden contaminants stuck to the paint, even after using a clay bar. If you spray it on and it doesn’t change color before running off, you know that your surface is perfectly clean.
This step is particularly important because ceramic coatings require a clean and decontaminated surface in order to bond properly to the paint. Neglecting this step may result in the ceramic coating not lasting as long or not performing as intended. To learn more about ceramic coatings and how to address any issues, check out this post.
It’s worth noting that an iron remover should not cause any damage to your paint if you use it in moderation and follow the instructions on the bottle. However, it may degrade a wax or sealant, so keep that in mind if you have recently applied one. On the other hand, ceramic coatings can withstand an iron remover much better. In fact, it can often help revitalize water beading on a ceramic coated car.
The main downside to using an iron remover too frequently is the cost. Compared to other detailing products, an iron remover is relatively expensive. Additionally, you tend to go through a significant amount of it with each use, so a 16 oz bottle won’t last very long.
Is an Iron Remover Necessary?
An iron and fallout remover is necessary if you want to ensure that the surface of your paint is perfectly clean. Therefore, in situations like the ones mentioned above, it is indeed necessary. However, for general cleaning and achieving a shiny finish, using an iron remover on a regular basis is not essential. Unless your car is white, you probably won’t notice or feel the presence of contaminants on your paint.
It’s important to understand that your car’s paint has pores similar to your skin. Over time, metal particles from brake dust or rail dust can embed themselves into those pores. No matter how much you scrub with a wash mitt, they won’t come off easily. That’s why we use clay bars on our cars. The sticky surface of the clay bar grabs onto contaminants and removes them from the paint.
Yet, there are times when contamination is deeply embedded in the pores, making it tricky for a clay bar to effectively remove them. This is where an iron remover comes in handy. Instead of physically pulling contaminants off the surface, it chemically dissolves them. Using a spray-on iron remover is the only way to achieve this.
How Does an Iron Remover Work?
Products like Iron-X and Gtechniq W6 eliminate ferrous contaminants (containing iron). In comparison, a clay bar can remove both ferrous contaminants that it can grab onto, as well as nonferrous ones like paint overspray, tree sap, and tar.
The product is sprayed onto the paint during the washing step, allowed to dwell for 3-5 minutes, and then rinsed off with water. If there is any iron contamination present on the paint, the chemical will cause it to turn red or purple during the dwell time.
The active ingredient in most iron and fallout removers is ammonium-thioglycolate. It accelerates the process of oxidation when it comes into contact with ferrous metals, allowing them to be pulled off the panel and rinsed away.
However, it’s worth mentioning that ammonium-thioglycolate is also what makes the product change color and gives it a horrid smell. Therefore, be prepared, as an iron remover will probably be the most unpleasant smelling product in your detailing arsenal.
Should You Use an Iron Remover or a Clay Bar First?
You have the flexibility to use these products in any order you prefer, although many people choose to use the iron remover first. The rationale behind this is that the iron remover can do a lot of the work without requiring you to physically touch or wipe the paint.
Avoiding direct contact with the paint reduces the risk of creating scratches. Clay bars are known to leave marks on the surface, so this consideration becomes crucial when dealing with a heavily contaminated vehicle.
Another reason to use the iron remover first is to extend the lifespan of your clay bar. By removing contaminants beforehand, you save the clay bar from having to do that additional work.
Should You Use an Iron Remover before or after Washing?
This is a matter of personal preference, but what matters most is that you thoroughly rinse the vehicle afterward. You should avoid letting an iron remover dry on your paint to prevent any possible staining.
Some people prefer to go through the entire wash process, dry the car off, and then use an iron remover. This is because they don’t want any standing water left on the surface, which could dilute the effectiveness of the iron remover.
On the other hand, some individuals would spray an iron remover on a completely dirty car before washing it, with the aim of avoiding product dilution.
Perhaps the most common approach is to use an iron remover after washing but before drying the vehicle. This method is quicker and still proves to be effective in most cases. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which method you prefer, but always remember to rinse it thoroughly afterward.
Can You Use an Iron Remover on Wheels?
Using an iron remover on painted wheels shouldn’t pose any problems. The clear coat on your wheels is no different from the clear coat on your car’s body. However, when it comes to chrome or bare metal wheels, it’s essential to do thorough research beforehand to avoid potential issues.
There is a common misconception that iron removers and wheel cleaners are the same due to the color-changing effect that some of them share. However, this is not the case. A wheel cleaner is capable of breaking down dirt, oil, and grease, whereas an iron remover strictly targets iron. Therefore, don’t expect neglected wheels to become perfectly clean by solely using an iron remover.