This is a 4 part series where Rodney Tatum covers various steps in the decontamination process. Click here to check out each article as they are released.
Iron removers are often overlooked by detailers who are removing contaminants from a car. When used it is often treated as just a wheel cleaner dissolving brake dust. But it is so much more. I usually treat the use of an iron remover as a mandatory step in decontaminating paint. Why do I use this product, more known for wheel cleaning, when I am going to use detailing clay anyway?
Many bonded contaminants have corrosive properties, meaning over time these substances can do real damage to your paint. Iron particles in particular from brake and rail dust can lead to rust developing underneath your paint, which will deteriorate your vehicle’s condition from inside out.
Yes, a clay bar may remove these substances, but not effectively on its own. Depending on the severity of the condition a clay bar may not remove all of the iron filings embedded on your paint. Also trying to remove iron filings with clay alone will often lead to the clay bar inflicting more (and more severe) micro scratching into your paint. It is also not a very time efficient process if your goal is for thorough decontamination. In addition to very possibly being unable to remove all of the iron filings, the time taken to remove the bonded contamination doubles and sometimes triples (depending on your goals). I have found even the use of a dedicated tar remover on lower sidecar panels to increase the efficiency of my claying as well. Overall chemical removal with a dedicated product before mechanical removal with a clay bar (meant to be a jack of all trades) ensures a more complete job.
When asked about the prep process for CQuartz Finest installers (an exclusive list of distinguished detailers). The process of decontaminating paint includes the use of a dedicated tar remover, iron remover, and a clay bar treatment. Often the best way to ensure a high quality detailing outcome is not skip steps. I believe this is especially important with respect to having a bottle of iron remover on hand.
Especially if you have unfilled rock chips on your car, the annual use of an iron remover product is one of the kindest things you can do to your paint.
Below are pictures of iron removers dissolving and breaking down ferrous metal particles.
For more information on how to use these kinds of products, check out this review of the Carpro Iron X Iron Remover.