The best traffic film remover (TFR) for deep decontamination

TFR will thoroughly decontaminate a vehicle but comes with several crucial caveats.

A van is pressure washed

by Ryan Gilmore |

While snow foam is undoubtedly the coolest pre-wash, it's also the gentlest. This is good news for your paintwork, delicate trim and rubber seals, but does mean snow foam sometimes can't remove heavy contamination. For such jobs you'll need to bring the big guns, you'll be needing traffic film remover (TFR).

You'll often see TFR sold is giant 25-litre bottles and often advertised as the perfect cleaners for lorries and other suitably industrial vehicles. Put simply, TFR is designed to clear grime aggressively without a whole lot of care for protecting the paintwork. As such, we recommend it for vans and other commercial vehicles but we say stick to snow foam for your car.

Another warning for TFR too. While the extra cleaning power is welcome, the majority of TFRs are acidic and can pose a threat to rubber seals, strip the colour from plastics and also dull clearcoats over time. As such make sure you follow dilution ratios strictly.

What is traffic film?

A van with traffic film on it
©Photo: Getty Images

Traffic film is that horrible layer of grime that builds up on your car as you drive around. It's most noticeable on lighter cars and is made up of various oils, mud, grease, grit and any other containment you can think of. They're most prevalent on commercial vehicles because of the industrial areas they're often used in and the fact that most aren't cleaned regularly. If you've ever seen a van with 'clean me' scrawled on the back, it's been written in the traffic film.

It's also quite difficult to remove, pre-washes like snow foam simply aren't strong enough to dislodge heavy, baked-in contamination which means you'll need to make use of stronger cleaners to properly remove it.

The best traffic film removers (TFR)

CarPlan CarPlan Trade Valet Super TFR

The best traffic film remover
CarPlan CarPlan Trade Valet Super TFR
Amazon

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Note the recommended dilution ratio of 1:50, enough for this 25-litre bottle of product to make 125-litres of product, enough to clean a whole fleet of commercial vehicles. If you dilute it further for lighter cleaning you can make up to 250-litres of product.

Pro-Kleen Traffic Film Remover

The best gentle traffic film remover
Pro-Kleen Traffic Film Remover
Amazon

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This TFR is designed to be a little kinder to rubber and plastics while still stripping away baked-on grease and other contaminents that make up traffic film. While it'll still be a little overkill for car cleaning, it is one of the more gentle TFRs, can be diluted 100:1 and is good value for money too.

Power Maxed Traffic Film Remover

The best traffic film remover for smaller cleaning
Power Maxed Traffic Film Remover
Amazon

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Not everybody needs 200+ litres of cleaning products made from a giant 25-litre bottle of TFR, sometimes a single litre will be more than enough for your cleaning needs. Like the Pro-Kleen, this is a more gentle TFR, with Power Maxed claiming it won't strip waxes from your paint so long as you dilute it to the recommended 9:1.

Jennychem Industrial Chemicals TFR Road Traffic Film Remover

The best traffic film remover for heavy-duty cleaning
Jennychem Industrial Chemicals TFR Road Traffic Film Remover
Amazon

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This is some strong stuff. The caustic properties mean that it corrodes contaminants and the insane 1:600 dilution rate means this 25-litre bottle of TFR can make an outstanding 15,000 litres of cleaning product. Jennychem also includes wax in the TFR for some extra hydrophobic qualities and to give a nice streak-free finish. Not one for delicate cleaning but a very impressive choice for a fleet of industrial vehicles.

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