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What is a Traffic Film Remover

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A traffic film remover is a product that is specifically designed to remove “traffic film”. This is a very fine layer of dust, grime and even oils that cover your car and are notoriously difficult to wash off. A traffic film remover can be wax-safe, but many ar not. This is not a product for the weekly wash, but more to be used once every couple of months. “Traffic film remover” is often shortened to TFR.

What is Traffic film

Traffic film is a very small layer that accumulates on the surface of a vehicle over time. This layer consists out of dirt, dust, grime, oils, tar, rubber and even iron oxide. Some of these particles are fairly easy to wash off and can be removed during the weekly wash. Other particles are very difficult to remove and require a very strong product to have effect. The Traffic Film Remover is a product that is specifically designed to do just that.

Basic ingredients for a traffic film removers are often solvents. Certain acids can be added to improve cleaning power, a popular one is citric acid. These ingredients all combine into a product that is fairly harsh, but effective.

What types of traffic film remover

There are many different products on the market, although they all differ slightly from each other, you can categorize them in 2 different ways.

The pH-level

  • pH-neutral
    These are often considered wax safe, but don’t have to be. If they contain citric acid (enough to clean, but not enough to lower the pH) they can still have a negative effect on the layer of wax.
  • Alkaline
    These often have a negative effect on most protective products. If a manufacturer has spent a lot of time in fine tuning the ingredients, it is possible to have very little effect, however this costs a lot of time and money and might not be worth the investment.
  • Acidic
    Although most protective products would be negatively affected by this, ceramic coatings aren’t affected at all. Which makes this a good chemical deep-cleaning product on ceramic coatings.

The harshness

  • Wax-safe
    A traffic film remover that removes a lot of dirt, but doesn’t have any effect on a layer of wax.
  • Non wax-safe
    A traffic film remover that removes everything, including wax. Will often have a negative effect on several types of protective products.

Common misconceptions

Although traffic film removers are nothing new, they have some myths around them.

  • They are not enough for complete decontamination
  • They usually have little to no effect on iron oxide (fallout)
  • They do not all have a negative effect on wax, but the ones that don’t, often have less cleaning power than the ones that do
  • Most traffic film removers are based on solvents, and not cleaning agents such as surfactants and emulsifiers
  • Traffic film removers are often very harsh, so protect your skin and eyes, and rinse off thoroughly
  • Traffic film removers are not designed to be used as a shampoo or a weekly wash

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