All low pH pre-soaks are technically acids. But does that mean you should avoid them when it comes to washing your truck fleet?

No, it doesn’t. Just because something is called an “acid” or contains acidic properties doesn’t mean it is bad. 

In fact, there are many everyday items that are technically acidic but aren’t harmful; things like milk, coffee, and even red meat.

Acidic pre-soaks aren’t just safe to use, they are almost essential if you want your truck fleet to be completely dirt-free.

So if you’re still unsure about whether you should start using acidic pre-soaks on your fleet, then make sure you read this first.

Low pH vs High pH Cleaning Solutions

Every truck wash soap or pre-soak is measured on the pH scale. This measurement assesses how acidic or basic a solution is. 

The pH scale ranges from 0 - 14, with a ph level of seven being neutral. 

Any pH level less than seven is considered acidic. Any pH level above seven means your truck wash detergent is base or alkaline.

How Acids Work

Acidic solutions aren’t great as general cleaners because they don’t work well on carbon-based grime such as grease or bugs. 

However, small amounts of low pH acids like hydrofluoric acid (HF), sulfuric acid, citric acid blends, and ammonium bifluoride (ABF) are key ingredients in many truck wash pre-soaks. 

That’s because they are highly effective against inorganic materials and minerals like dust, lime, or salt. They are also great for removing discoloration and oxidation from various metals, brightening the aluminum, and disinfecting the surface of your trucks.

Some pre-soaks do carry additional hazardous risks and safe handling requirements, but when used properly can produce a dramatic transformation in your cleaning and brightening process.  

Hydro-Chem Systems uses several different raw materials in our products and tailors which acids and how much of each acid is used in the blend, depending on the product’s application. 

Hydro-Chem Systems also has an extensive line of non-hazardous low pH acids for customers that are extra safety conscious or may have more detailed fleets with polished aluminum surfaces.  

Please, remember to check the label of every truck wash chemical to make sure it is safe to use on your particular vehicle. 

Now that we’ve looked at how acidic pre-soaks work, here are three reasons you need them if you want a crystal-clean truck wash.

Why Acidic Pre-Soaks are the Secret to an Effective Truck Wash

Acidic pre-soaks vary in strength but work best alongside an alkaline detergent in a 2-step truck wash.

That way you can feel confident that you’re getting a balanced truck wash that targets almost every type of dirt on the surface of your vehicle.

Here are three reasons you need to start using a low pH pre-soak:

1. It Cleans and Reduces both Metal and Paint Oxidation

Metal oxidation is what happens when the iron or steel on your truck dries out after consistent exposure to heat and oxygen. This typically results in rust.

If rust is left untreated, it can permanently damage the paint and lower the life expectancy of your vehicle.

When an acidic pre-soak covers your truck, it very lightly etches into the metal surface to remove metal oxidation and expose a clean substrate. 

This makes it great at both prepping your truck for a high pH soap and helping ensure it stays in commission longer.

2. Acidic Pre-soaks Brighten Non-Polished Aluminum

Today, most trucks are built with aluminum instead of steel because it is lighter, more durable, and more cost-effective. But it doesn’t take long for dust, grime, and rust to build up. 

If your fleet includes a lot of aluminum parts, try a pre-soak that contains hydrofluoric acid or ammonium bifluoride. These compounds are very good at cleaning and brightening non-polished aluminum surfaces.

3. Low pH Pre-Soaks Help Remove Static Road Film

Road film, or traffic film, is the build-up of road dirt, diesel smoke, and other foreign contaminants. 

As a vehicle moves at a high speed, it generates friction & static electricity, forming an electrostatic bond to the pollutants. 

The best way to get rid of road film is using an acidic presoak in a 2-step truck wash. The pre-soak acid neutralizes the negative charges that are bonded to the vehicle surface, while the high pH truck wash soap neutralizes the positively charged contaminants. 

Which Acidic Pre-Soak Should You Use?

Not every acidic pre-soak is the same. Some are safe on polished surfaces and some are more aggressive.

It all depends on your location, what season you’re in, the quality of your water, and most importantly, what type of vehicle you’re washing.

So if you’re looking to purchase an acidic pre-soak make sure you contact us first. We’ll have one of our expert advisors assess your fleet washing needs and find the best fit for your specific situation.