Buyer Beware

What to look for in ‘Truck Wash’ Products

What do you expect from a Truck Wash ?

Consumers should be aware of the possible problems that can arise from using many of the Truck Wash products on the market today. Aspects such as; the cleaning power of the product is seen as the mark of a good detergent, or brand name, or popularity. Whereas such things as pH level and salt content are completely overlooked by the vast majority of users. To further broaden this problem, nowadays there is a tendency for consumers to use Truck Wash on their four wheel drives and family sedans.

What is the pH of the product?

The measure of the pH is the measure of acid or alkalinity measured on a pH scale (or more accurately – a measure of hydrogen ions in solution). On this scale the range is from 0 on the acid end to 14 on the alkaline end, with 7 being considered neutral.

What does all this mean? Well the chemical industry has for many years known that alyline detergents clean fairly quickly – and are relatively cheap to make. Additionally a fact that is not known by the public is that thickening a detergent can be done very cheaply by the addition of salt. The consumer perceives that a “thick” detergent must be very concentrated, and if it cleans quickly it must be good. Therefore there is a good chance that the truck wash you have been using for years may be too high on the pH scale (many are between 10 to 11.5) and may contain salt.

Salt residue and alkaline water can set up an electrolytic reaction that will undoubtedly begin to cause corrosion. This is very clearly demonstrated in and around mining environments where winds will often carry highly alkaline deposits and bring them to rest on vehicles.

A simple test using a cheap pH test strip will reveal what your products pH value is.

Why is the pH level important?


If water remains on a metal surface, we all know that it can cause rust. Most surfaces that are subjected to water are protected by surface coatings. However what if the surface has acid or caustic sitting on it, which can be the case if not all the remains of a truck wash is removed. No matter how hard we try, it is sometimes impossible to remove all residue from a washed surface, especially if the user is using high pressure cleaners to apply and rinse the vehicle. Whilst there is no perfect solution there are several steps that can be taken to minimise the problem. The best and simplest starting point is to start with a pH neutral detergent.

Sierra’s range of vehicle cleaning detergents are all pH neutral (+-0.5) and are formulated without the use of salt. In the case of our Ultra Gloss there is also paint conditioners, including lanolin that will further benefit coated surfaces.

The lanolin has the added benefit of producing an unbeatable shine to painted and coated surfaces. An amazing property when you consider that lanolin is both natural and non toxic. This polishing effect takes about 10 to 12 hours after washing to be completely evident, and lanolin is well known for its anti corrosive qualities.


Check the pH level of the detergent you are using, if it is higher than 8 (+-0.5) then we would suggest changing product to one that is neutral
Ensure all residue is washed away from bare and coated metal surfaces, and allowed to dry as quickly as possible.
If you are around coastal or mining areas, the use of lanolin products such as Sierra’s will further protect the surface.
Just because a product says it has “anti-corrosive” additives doesnt mean it wont contribute to corrosion. The pH level may be at odds to the additives.

Read more on Sierra’s “Ultra Gloss” – a true Multifunctional Wash

Contact us

We look forward to serving you.