What is traffic film
Written by: Vinnie van Rooij
A traffic film is the term used to describe the fine layer of contaminants that cover a vehicle that has been used. The very film layer of contaminants lie on top of the car as a grey-ish film. Washing alone might not always be enough to fully remove this film.
Where does traffic film come from
When a vehicle is used, it is exposed to several types of contaminants. Some of these are just simple raindrops with impurities, sand and dust. Others are more harsh, like acid rain, tree sap and iron fallout. Some of these contaminants touch the paint, but simply slide over it or bounce off. Others get stuck or are delivered via a raindrop. When it rains, the water on the roadsurface picks up all the dirt and other contaminants that lies on the ground. When the car in front of you drive over it, it throws up the dirty water, spraying your car with dirty rainwater. When the water slowly dries up, it leaves behind all the dirt that is inside of it.
Traffic film does not only come from rainwater, surface can also become covered in dirt and other contaminants in dry weather, but the formation of traffic film is vastly increased during wet or highly moist moments.
What is traffic film made of
The traffic film is made from several types of contaminants. These can be liquids, solid and some are even delivered via a gas (like the exhaust from other cars). The term is a generic term to describe a collection of contaminants and dirt that can eventually cover a vehicle that has been used in traffic.
- Iron fallout
- Rubber particles
- Carbon deposits
- Random particles from dirt thrown out of cars
- Tree sap/resin
- Biological matter (roadkill, bird droppings etc.)
- Fluids from the engine bay (coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid etc.)
- Windscreen cleaner
These contaminants leave a grey finish over the surface that dulls the finish, minimizes the gloss and takes away from that “freshly detailed” look.
How to remove a traffic film
Traffic films contain several different types of dirt. Although detailing shampoos are aimed at removing as much dirt as possible, it is not strong enough to remove 100% of the contaminants on your paintwork. Therefore, it will always leave a certain amount of contaminants on your paintwork. This is not a problem, your protective product is designed to keep these contaminants at bay and to prevent long term paintwork damage. A good protective product will make it easier to remove more of the dirt with less effort. But in time, the contaminants will build up. A traffic film remover will help in the removal of the contaminants mentioned above. In wet seasons the difference between a vehicle before washing and after washing can be pretty substantial. A white car can look grey-ish before it is cleaned. Snowfoam is not always strong enough to fully remove traffic film.
Danger of traffic film
The traffic film contains many different types of contaminants. Some of these can cause long term paint damage. The minerals can eventually cause mineral etching damage in the surface, iron fallout can start a rusting process that is able to damage the paint surface. Brake fluid even has the potential to cause surface damage in very short time. Besides the contaminants in the traffic film, the layer of dirt covering the vehicle is capable of trapping moisture, causing a surface to be wet longer then needed. This can have an effect on the amount of rust that forms.
Undercarriages get covered in traffic film all the time, but are rarely cleaned properly. This causes certain areas to stay wet longer, increasing the chance of surface rust forming.
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