Rail Dust & Contamination:  Why does my car paint feel so rough??

Rail Dust & Contamination: Why does my car paint feel so rough??

The day you pick up your new vehicle at the dealership is always special. You’ve completed the paperwork and then walk over to see how beautiful it looks.  You sit inside and take in that new car smell, run you hand over the paint feeling how smooth and clean it is. However, several months later you run your hand over the same spot and it feels rough to the touch even after you have given it a proper wash.  To make matters worse, when you look closer, all you see are tiny red dots! Welcome to the world of rail dust and contamination!


Rail dust and contamination on your car is a fact of life if you drive your car on a regular basis.  More so when you live in an area with conditions that expose your car to various man made and natural elements.  Having a lightly colored car makes the rail dust stand out even further.


The term ‘rail dust’ originated from the time vehicles were transported via trains.  Particles from the track would would fly up and stick to the vehicles. Today, rail dust or metal contaminants can come into contact with your vehicle if you live near train tracks or go through any industrial/construction areas.  If left unattended, these rust spots become so embedded within the paint, it becomes nearly impossible to remove and can form into larger rust spots, especially if continually exposed to moisture.


To properly remove these contaminants, two recommendations are constantly brought up.  One would be to use an Iron Decontamination Spray and the second would be to clay your vehicle.  


An Iron Decontamination spray can be purchased online or at various car detailing shops.  There are several brands available but they all provide the same result. Removal of Iron Decontamination.  Wash your vehicle prior to applying any Iron Decontamination solution for the best results. Ensure that the wheels and surface paint are cool to the touch.  Do not apply in direct sunlight. Do not allow to dry. Start with the wheels as this is the dirtiest part of your vehicle. Allow the solution to sit for 4-5 minutes before rinsing off.  As it works, the iron decontamination solution should start to turn purple as it breaks down the contaminants. Also note that the foul smell of sulfur will be present. On the vehicles body, focus on the areas behind the wheels, lower body panels, bumpers and rear trunk/hatch.  These are where rail dust and contaminants tend to build up.


If your vehicle has very stubborn contamination, follow up with a clay bar, clay pad or clay cloth can be completed.  Using a clay bar, pad or cloth is easy and safe. You can purchase these online or at any car detailing retailer. In addition, you will need a clay lubricant and a 2-3 microfiber towels.   Start from the top of your vehicle working front to back. Prior to using the clay bar/pad/cloth, spray some lube directly onto it, then onto your windshield. Rub the clay several times on the area that has been sprayed to break-in the clay and remove any layers of chemicals applied by the manufacturer.  Once broken in, spray clay lube liberally on a small section of the vehicle, rub the clay back and forth with minimal pressure to remove any remaining contaminants. Repeat until the surface is smooth to the touch. Wipe off any remaining clay lubricant with the microfiber towel. Note. If your clay bar touches the ground, it is no longer safe to use on the vehicles surface as it may have picked up additional contaminants on the ground which will scratch the surface further.  With a clay pad or cloth, they can be rinsed or washed off to remove any contaminants. In addition, they can be used several more times if maintained properly after use.


After your vehicle has been decontaminated, you can now safely polish, wax, seal or ceramic coat your vehicle.