How to Remove Orange Spots on Car Paint (Full Guide)

If you’ve recently been admiring your car and noticed tiny orange spots all over the paintwork, it can be a bit concerning. The good news, is that these spots can be easily removed and are not permanent. In this article I’ll explain what they are, how they’re caused, how to remove them and how to prevent them.

What are all the Orange Spots on the Paintwork?

The orange spots that can accumulate on a vehicle’s paintwork are iron contamination. Iron particles can become embedded in the paintwork and rust, causing the formation of small orange spots which are more visible on white paintwork and other lighter colors.

Typically, these orange spots are most prevalent on the lower sections of the car and the rear. Although, they can accumulate all over the vehicle such as the bonnet and roof, depending on the conditions the car is stored under.

Here is a an image of a car with very heavy iron contamination.

What Causes These Rust Spots?

These orange spots are caused by embedded iron which starts to rust. Iron contamination can accumulate from several sources.

Typically, these iron particles accumulate more quickly when the car is either:

  • Stored near a railway line
  • Stored near an industrial plant
  • Parked at the side of the road

The image shown above is from a car which is parked at the side of the road, next to a train station the majority of the time.

Even brand-new cars are likely to have iron contamination on them since many of them travel to the dealerships by rail.

These rust spots can also be caused by bits of iron produced by the brake discs settling on the paintwork. This is why the lower sections behind the wheels are typically where the iron contamination will be the heaviest.

This is why parking the car at the side of a main road will lead to these orange spots forming more quickly, as brake dust from other people’s cars will end up on the road, and then when it rains it will be splashed up onto the sides of the parked car.

How to Remove Orange Rust Spots

Okay so now we know exactly what these orange spots are, let’s go through the removal process.

Iron contamination is stubborn and cannot be removed by routine washing, this is why you’re most likely to spot it after you’ve just cleaned the car and the orange spots are not masked by any dirt.

The best way to remove orange rust spots on a car is to use a product known as an iron fallout remover. These products contain a chemical called ammonium-thioglycolate which will dissolve the iron contamination so it can be rinsed away.

This active chemical turns red/ purple when it reacts with iron particles. Check out the image below to demonstrate.

These chemicals come in a sprayable format. Here are some popular iron fallout removers:

How to Use an Iron Fallout Remover

I’d always advise following the manufacturer’s specific instructions when using any detailing product, however here is a general guide on how to use these kinds of products:

  • Thoroughly wash the car using car shampoo and a microfiber wash mitt. Do not use dish soap or any other household chemicals.
  • Dry the car using a soft microfiber towel.
  • Spray the iron fallout remover liberally onto the affected areas. Never apply in direct sunlight or it will lead to staining.
  • Allow to dwell for the recommended period of time (usually around 5 minutes) but do not allow to dry out as this will cause staining. You should see the purple/ red reaction occur.
  • Rinse away thoroughly using a pressure washer.

If the iron contamination is not too heavy, the orange spots should have disappeared. However, if you are dealing with particularly heavy contamination then you may need to:

  • Repeat the process as above.
  • Dry the paintwork using a soft microfiber towel.
  • Apply the iron fallout remover and allow to dwell for a few minutes.
  • Use a microfiber wash mitt and car shampoo to wipe over the affected areas gently. Do not scrub.
  • Rinse thoroughly using a pressure washer.

Dealing With Stubborn Iron Contamination

If the rust spots are still present then you may need to use a clay bar to remove them completely. Clay bars are designed to remove heavy contamination from a vehicle’s exterior surfaces to leave behind a smooth surface.

Here is a quick guide to using a clay bar:

  • Make sure the car is wet.
  • Use a microfiber wash mitt and car shampoo to lubricate the panel.
  • Working a section at a time, glide the clay gently over the paint without applying pressure, in straight-line motions
  • Fold the clay after going over each panel before moving onto the next
  • Rinse the panel

In some cases, you may also find it beneficial to spray the iron remover onto the paintwork to aid the removal of these orange spots during the claying process.

Check out my complete guide to using a clay bar to learn more.

Here is a link to a YouTube video where I show how to remove stubborn orange rust spots from a heavily contaminated car.

Since clay bars are abrasive, they are highly likely to cause some minor swirl marks or marring in the clear coat paint. This will not be visible in dull conditions, but you may notice it when the car is under direct sunlight. To remove this, you can polish the paintwork, or in some cases mask it using a wax or glaze.

Check out this article to learn more.

How to Prevent Rust Spots

Okay so if you’ve gone to the trouble of removing all those orange spots and now your car’s paintwork looks clean and fresh, you’re going to want to put some effort into preventing them.

Here are some tips:

  • Where possible, avoid parking the car near a trainline, industrial plant, or on the side of the road.
  • Wash the car frequently (ideally every 2 weeks). This will help to remove the iron contamination before it bonds too strongly to the paintwork.
  • Use a wax or sealant to protect the vehicle and make iron contamination less likely to stick.

Frequently maintenance of the car is the best way to prevent these orange spots building up.

Check out my complete guide to washing a car for the best products and techniques to keep your vehicle in tip-top condition.

Noticed black spots on your car as well? Check out my guide to removing and preventing these tar deposits.



Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

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