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What Is Fallout On Cars

What Is Fallout On Car? Fallout is basically tiny shards of metal. They can come from a lot of places but mostly industrial areas. 

The heat of the metal makes it easy to embed themselves into most surfaces they touch. The tiny shards of hot metal can come from a variety of surfaces so has many applications but all comes down to the friction of metal on metal.

Paint on cars is very resilient but the heat of the particles literally melts into the top coat. And once embedded the fallout can easily oxidise and therefore rust. Rust can be seen as tiny orange dots; most visible seen on white car paint.

If you have a dark colour car you may not be able to see the fallout or iron filings so easily but you can probably feel them. If you’ve ever rubbed your cars paint then you may of realised that it felt rough, or at least not as smooth as it should be; like glass (unless your glass is affected by fallout!).

Your paint can be rough for a few reasons but the most common reason is fallout and tar. You can easily see if it is fallout if you use a traditional white clay bar. It will quickly turn orange and brown; the signs of metal beginning to rust!

Where Does Fallout Come From

Fallout can come from nearly any application where there is metal on metal contact, but keeping on track and sticking to our industry knowledge we will be concentrating on common fallout problems on cars.

Ever parked your car near a train track? The hot brake dust from trains covers cars in fallout. Park near a factory or industrial estate? Hot metal sparks from factories and manufacturing produces lots of fallout.

You will also find your car having a problem if its been near someone grinding, cutting metal or anything with sparks!

New Car Fallout Problems

The most common problem that we rectify with new cars is finding fallout across brand new paintwork.

You may be thinking why does my new car have small orange dots on the paintwork? This is caused from fallout. Fallout can come from trains, industrial factories and shipping yards.

As new cars get transported around a lot they are easily susceptible to fallout. They get delivered by boat and train which are full of industrial waste and fallout. They get transported from one shipping port to another before heading on a transporter. Once they finally reach the dealership they are far from being ‘new’.

This can obviously take a few days but most often takes weeks from being made to reaching the dealership. Plenty of time for the paintwork to contaminated with fallout.

Learn how to remove fallout from cars with our free guide!

Used Car Fallout Problems

Just like new cars, all older and used cars suffer from the same external fallout contamination by driving near, or parking at, train stations, factories, industrial yards but also, from on-board factors such as brake discs and brake pads.

The most common problem you may come across is fallout on wheels. This type of fallout is predominantly iron from the brake discs and brake pads.

You will find that larger and more luxury cars expel off far more iron than smaller, lighter or cheaper cars.

Automatic vehicles will also have far more fallout, especially iron filings, on their wheels due to the way that they are constantly pushed forward and require far more braking.

Owners of such vehicles, or wheels that haven’t been cleaned for many months, will require a strong wheel cleaner where the use of an acid will break down the metallic particles and brake dust.

An even better solution is to use a specific iron remover that is safe on car paint, wheels and glass.

The advancement of car care technology has led to the development of iron removers that are still PH neutral making them safe on ANY surface.

Iron removers quickly break down the metallic particles and whilst doing so turn purple to make it easy to see if fallout, or iron particles, are present.

Using a specific wheel cleaner followed by a fallout remover and tar remover will give you the cleanest possible wheel and will look like its just come out of the showroom!

Removing Fallout From Cars

The easiest way to remove fallout is with chemical and physical treatment. can be removed by the use of a clay bar or fallout remover.

If the contamination is bad then using a firm clay bar to remove any protruding particles first will help to break down the fallout quicker which is useful especially as iron removers aren’t cheap.

You can then apply the fallout remover, allow it to dwell, agitate with a wash mitt or sponge then rinse thoroughly.

You may need to repeat this process, especially if the contamination is severe but it WILL work! If it doesn’t then its probably not fallout..!

Once complete, wash your car with regular shampoo and protect the paint with a sealant.

Have you had a problem with fallout or metallic particles on your car? Comment below and we will give you free advice!

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Hello
    I can my car outside my work which is a metal manufacturing company with lots of grinding and cutting of steel.

    Does the company have to take any responsibility for the cost of repair in these situations?

    Kind Regards

  2. Hi John, they should out of courtesy but I am sure they will have some sort of clause that gives them a way out of being responsible and deemed as ‘nature of the business’. It is worth speaking to someone friendly though and seeing if you could get the cost of a fallout remover reimbursed. All the best, Tom

  3. Hi have just purchased a new Peugeot gti have only had it 3 weeks noticed a defect in the paint work on the rear spoiler so went in to have it polished out drove home went on holiday for a week when I washed it I noticed brown marks had started to appear on most of the panels have counted approx 300 marks sent it back to the dealership last Sunday and have had a reply today that it is fallout they say they can polish it out but will it come back and will it damage the paint work as it is metallic white seems bad on a new car would welcome some advice thanks

  4. Hi Glenn, thanks for getting in touch, I have sent you an email but if there is anything else I can help with just let me know. Thanks, Tom

  5. Hi
    My daughter bought a brand new White Vauxhall Corsa Griffin from our local Evans Halshaw.
    When we picked the car up, I noticed orange marks virtually on every panel.
    I spoke to the Sales person, who explained it was fallout. I asked when he would sort this issue out.
    His answer was, I will book it in this week and get it sorted. After some to-ing and fro-ing it eventually was picked up. It has come back slightly better but not nearly perfect as I would expect from a NEW Car.
    Having read some of your posts, is polishing the fallout likely to prevent it from returning? What course of action is available to me?
    Thank you
    Kind Regards

  6. Hi Pete,

    Polishing can help remove fallout but fallout removers and clay bars are going to be more effective.

    Once you use the fallout remover or clay bar and there is no sign of it left then it won’t re-appear by itself. However, as fallout is literally stuff that falls out from industrial operations it can land on your car and seem to re-appear at any time. This is partly why we recommend to decontaminate your paint every 6 months or so as part of maintenance.

    Being a white car you will see fallout and tar spots more than anything other car but by applying a good sealant or ceramic based product the upkeep and condition of the paint will stay better for a lot longer.

    Hope this helps, Tom

  7. I purchased a new silver Mitsubishi Pajero Sport March 2019. Within a week of purchase, we notice corrosion spots mainly on the roof, but on closer inspection, the 2 back panels as well. Long story, but I felt I was backed into a corner to have an acid wash for oxidation to the “fallout”. I can still see some imperfections in areas and am concerned that the problem will reoccur. Some areas had indentations in the spot so I felt that the rust was well into the paintwork. I had asked for a replacement car but I don’t think that is going to happen.

    Regards, Rachael

  8. Yes we see this quite a lot, acid treatments can cause more damage than they are worth.

    The fallout removers we recommend can make light work of it doing it yourself.

  9. I have a 2019 Chevy Trax Steel Satin Metallic in color. I notice when I hand wash my car several small rust colored spots appear on most body panels. They seem slightly raised but are easily removed by slightly rubbing them. I got the Trax new and this is Happening still two years later. Should I be worried about premature rusting under paint or should I be ok?

  10. As long as you keep on top of it then it shouldn’t cause any problems. Industrial fallout is something that will always be there and always fall onto your paint so isn’t age related. Twice a year decontamination will help keep it at bay. Regards, Tom

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