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In this research, first a multi-analytical approach was carried out to propose a mechanistic model for the formation of the thermal oxide film on low Cr stainless steel. It describes the effects of kinetically and thermodynamically driven phenomena on the growth of a Fe-Cr complex oxide film at 950℃. Second, the behavior of the thermal oxide film in the presence of fluoride ions, as a relevant pickling agent in conversion treatment, was investigated. It was shown that fluoride ions enter the oxide film and form a complex with Fe and preferentially dissolve hematite islands through a complexation mechanism.