Road tar

How To Remove Road Tar From Car


How To Remove Road Tar From Car: The allure of the open road often comes with an unintended consequence: road tar clinging stubbornly to the surfaces of our vehicles. Asphalt-based tar, a byproduct of road construction and maintenance, can mar the pristine appearance of a car and prove to be a challenging adversary for many motorists. In this exploration, we embark on a journey to uncover effective techniques and solutions on how to remove road tar from a car, providing a roadmap for those seeking to restore their vehicle’s luster.


Road tar is notorious for its tenacity, adhering to the paintwork, wheels, and even the undercarriage of our cars. This sticky substance not only detracts from the aesthetic appeal but can also lead to long-term damage if left unattended. Recognizing the need for a targeted and safe approach to tar removal, this exploration delves into a variety of methods, ranging from household items to specialized tar removers, to address this persistent problem.


An enthusiast looking to maintain the showroom quality of your vehicle or a daily commuter seeking to preserve your car’s appearance, the insights provided here offer practical solutions for tackling road tar. Armed with this knowledge, car owners can confidently navigate the path to a tar-free, gleaming vehicle, restoring their pride and joy to its pristine state.

How To Remove Road Tar From Car

How do you get road tar off a car?

WD-40 and Goo Gone


Both use oils to penetrate tar and lubricate the affected area, sliding the tar off your car’s paint with a little pressure. Take a clean microfiber cloth and spray it with either WD-40 or Goo Gone. You can also apply a little bit of either solution onto the tar spots directly.

Use of Solvents:

One common method for removing road tar from a car involves using specialized solvents or tar removers. These products are designed to break down the tar’s adhesive properties, making it easier to wipe away. When using solvents, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and ensure compatibility with the car’s paint. Typically, the process involves applying the solvent to the tar-affected area, allowing it to dwell for a short period, and then gently wiping or brushing away the softened tar. Afterward, it’s essential to thoroughly wash and wax the treated area to protect the paint and restore its shine.


Household Products:

Certain household items can also be effective in removing road tar from a car. Common substances like cooking oil, peanut butter, or even mayonnaise can be applied to the tar-affected area. These household products work by breaking down the tar’s adhesive properties, allowing for easier removal. After applying the chosen substance, let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate the tar. Then, use a soft cloth or a plastic scraper to gently wipe away the softened tar. Following this, wash and wax the car to remove any residue and restore the paint’s luster. While these household methods can be cost-effective, it’s essential to test them on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure they won’t harm the car’s finish.


Clay Bar Treatment:

Clay bars, commonly used in detailing, are excellent for removing contaminants such as road tar from a car’s paint. A clay bar is a pliable, clay-like substance that is rubbed across the surface, picking up and removing contaminants embedded in the paint. To use a clay bar for tar removal, lubricate the affected area with a detailing spray or soapy water and gently rub the clay bar back and forth. The clay bar will grab onto the tar and pull it away from the surface. Regularly fold and reshape the clay bar to expose a clean surface as it becomes soiled. After using the clay bar, wash the car and apply wax to protect the paint.


Steam Cleaning:

Steam cleaning is another effective method for removing road tar from a car’s surface. The high-temperature steam helps to soften and loosen the tar, making it easier to wipe away. Steam cleaners equipped with detailing attachments or a nozzle with adjustable pressure can be used for precision in targeting specific areas. However, caution should be exercised to avoid excessive pressure or prolonged exposure, which could damage the paint or finish. After steam cleaning, it’s advisable to wash the car to remove any remaining residue and apply a protective wax to the treated area.


Preventative Measures:

To minimize the occurrence of road tar on a car’s surface, consider applying a wax or sealant regularly. A well-maintained wax layer provides a protective barrier, making it more difficult for tar and other contaminants to adhere to the paint. Additionally, avoiding freshly laid road tar when possible and promptly addressing any tar spots through the methods mentioned can help maintain the car’s aesthetic appeal and protect its exterior.

Does WD-40 remove tar from car?

Other Products. Some car detailers and body shops recommend using WD-40 to remove tar. Though many think WD-40 is a lubricant, it is a solvent that can dissolve and loosen tar, bugs and bird droppings.

WD-40 Composition:

Understanding the composition of WD-40 is crucial in evaluating its effectiveness in removing tar. WD-40 is primarily a mixture of various hydrocarbons, with a blend of lubricating oils, solvents, and propellants. While it is adept at loosening rusted or stuck parts, the solvent-based nature of WD-40 gives it some degreasing capabilities. However, whether it can effectively tackle tar deposits depends on the specific type of tar and its adhesion to the car surface.


Effectiveness on Fresh Tar Deposits:

WD-40 can be relatively effective in removing fresh tar deposits from a car’s surface. Its solvent properties help break down the sticky nature of tar, making it easier to wipe or wash away. When applied promptly after the tar comes into contact with the car, WD-40 can aid in quick and efficient removal. However, it’s essential to act swiftly, as tar hardens over time, making it more challenging to eliminate.


Challenges with Stubborn or Aged Tar:

While WD-40 may work well on fresh tar, it may face challenges when dealing with stubborn or aged deposits. As tar hardens and adheres firmly to the car surface, the solvent properties of WD-40 might become less effective. In such cases, additional efforts such as gentle scraping or repeated applications may be necessary. It’s important to note that while WD-40 can assist in softening and loosening tar, some persistent residues may require specialized tar removers or other cleaning agents for complete removal.


Precautions and Considerations:

When using WD-40 to remove tar from a car, it’s crucial to take certain precautions. First, test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure that WD-40 does not cause any adverse reactions with the car’s paint or finish. Additionally, after applying WD-40, thoroughly clean the treated area to remove both the tar residue and the WD-40 itself. Leaving the lubricant on the surface for an extended period may attract dust and dirt, potentially causing more problems.

Does petrol remove tar from car?

I’ve used petrol before and it seems fine removing the tar. By just using a micro fibre cloth you can spray this stuff on and wipe all the dirt and grime off in one go.

Effectiveness of Petrol for Tar Removal:

Petrol, with its solvent properties, can be effective in breaking down and dissolving tar deposits on a car’s surface. Tar is a sticky substance that often adheres stubbornly to the paint, making it challenging to remove. The solvency of petrol aids in loosening the tar, facilitating its removal with less effort. However, the effectiveness of petrol may vary depending on the type and age of the tar deposits, as well as the specific composition of the petrol being used.

Safety Considerations:

While petrol can be effective in tar removal, it is crucial to approach this method with caution due to safety concerns. Petrol is highly flammable and poses a risk of fire or explosion, especially when used in proximity to hot surfaces or under direct sunlight. Additionally, prolonged exposure to petrol can damage the car’s paint and rubber components. Therefore, it is essential to exercise extreme caution, use the petrol in a well-ventilated area, and follow proper safety protocols, such as wearing protective gear and avoiding smoking during the process.

Potential Impact on Paintwork:

While petrol may effectively remove tar, it can have unintended consequences on the car’s paintwork. Petrol is a strong solvent that not only dissolves tar but can also strip away wax and protective coatings on the paint. This leaves the paint exposed and vulnerable to environmental elements, potentially leading to premature fading and deterioration. It is advisable to follow up the use of petrol with a thorough car wash and application of a suitable automotive wax or polish to restore and enhance the protective layer on the paint.

Alternatives to Petrol for Tar Removal:

Considering the safety concerns and potential impact on paintwork, there are alternative methods for tar removal that are both effective and safer. Commercial tar removers specifically formulated for automotive use are widely available. These products are designed to break down tar without compromising the paint or pose the same safety risks as petrol. Additionally, using common household items like vegetable oil or olive oil can be an alternative, providing a gentler approach to tar removal.

Will kerosene remove tar from car?

Seconding put the a bit of Kerosene or White Spirit onto a cloth and work it on to the tar leaving it to rest for up to about 5 minutes or so. Once the time has passed use a cloth to easily remove the tar away. The degreasing agent in the Kerosene and White Spirits breaks down the tar to allow it to move away.

Solvent Properties of Kerosene:

Kerosene possesses solvent properties that can help break down and dissolve certain substances, including tar. The hydrocarbon composition of kerosene allows it to penetrate and weaken the bonds holding tar to the car’s surface. When applied correctly, kerosene can act as an effective degreaser and tar remover, making it easier to wipe or wash away the tar deposits. Its ability to dissolve sticky residues like tar makes kerosene a potential candidate for cleaning purposes.


Application and Safety Considerations:

While kerosene has solvent properties, its application for tar removal requires caution. Before using kerosene, it is essential to test a small, inconspicuous area of the car’s surface to ensure compatibility and prevent any adverse reactions. When applying kerosene, use a soft cloth or sponge to gently rub the affected area. Excessive force or prolonged contact can potentially damage the car’s paint or clear coat. Additionally, adequate ventilation is crucial when working with kerosene to avoid inhaling fumes, and safety measures such as wearing gloves are recommended to protect the skin.


Effect on Car Finish:

While kerosene can effectively remove tar, it is essential to consider its impact on the overall finish of the car. Prolonged or frequent use of kerosene may lead to the stripping of wax or protective coatings on the car’s surface, leaving it vulnerable to environmental elements. Therefore, after tar removal with kerosene, it is advisable to wash and wax the affected area promptly to restore and enhance the protective layer. Regular maintenance practices, including waxing, can help mitigate any potential negative effects on the car’s finish.


Alternative Methods for Tar Removal:

While kerosene can be effective, alternative methods for tar removal exist, and their suitability depends on the severity of the tar deposits and the car’s finish. Commercial tar removers, citrus-based cleaners, or even a mixture of baking soda and cooking oil can be considered. These alternatives might provide effective tar removal while potentially being gentler on the car’s finish. Experimenting with different methods and choosing the one that suits the specific situation can ensure tar removal without compromising the vehicle’s aesthetics.

How To Remove Road Tar From Car

Is tar bad for your car?

But, there’s nothing worse than discovering tar stuck to the exterior of your vehicle, where it can wreak havoc. Not only does the stuff stick like glue (which is what it basically is), but tar can damage your clear coat or your paint if it’s not removed promptly and properly.

Exterior Damage:

Tar can be particularly harmful to a car’s exterior surfaces. When hot, freshly laid asphalt encounters a vehicle’s body, it can adhere to the paintwork. Over time, the tar hardens, becoming difficult to remove. The adhesion of tar to the car’s surface not only compromises its aesthetic appeal but also creates a potential breeding ground for contaminants. If left unattended, tar can lead to the development of rust on the metal surfaces of the vehicle, further accelerating the degradation of the paint and compromising the structural integrity of the exterior.

Impact on Paintwork and Finish:

The chemical composition of tar includes substances that can react with the paint and clear coat of a car. Over time, exposure to tar can lead to discoloration, fading, or even peeling of the paintwork. This not only diminishes the vehicle’s visual appeal but also reduces its resale value. Frequent encounters with tar on the road can intensify these effects, necessitating prompt and proper cleaning to mitigate the potential long-term damage to the car’s exterior.

Chassis and Undercarriage Concerns:

Beyond the visible impact on the exterior, tar can also affect the undercarriage and chassis of a vehicle. As the car moves over newly laid asphalt, tar may splatter onto the undercarriage and components such as the suspension system and exhaust. The accumulation of tar in these areas can contribute to the collection of dirt and debris, forming a stubborn layer that is challenging to remove. This can lead to accelerated corrosion of the undercarriage, jeopardizing the structural integrity and longevity of essential components. Regular undercarriage inspections and cleaning are crucial to prevent the adverse effects of tar accumulation.

Methods of Removal:

To mitigate the negative impact of tar on a car, prompt removal is essential. There are various methods for safely removing tar from the vehicle’s surfaces. Specialized tar-removal products are available, designed to break down the tar without causing harm to the paintwork. Additionally, using a soft cloth or sponge with a mixture of mild soap and water can help dissolve and remove tar spots. It is crucial to avoid abrasive materials or aggressive cleaning agents that may further damage the paint or clear coat. Regular waxing and protective coatings can also act as a barrier, making it easier to clean off tar and preventing it from adhering to the vehicle’s surfaces.

Will paint thinner remove tar from the car?

Any type of petroleum distillate will work in dissolving tar so you can use kerosene, diesel, mineral spirits, turps, xylene, paint thinner…etc.

Compatibility of Paint Thinner:

The choice of paint thinner is crucial when attempting to remove tar from a car. Some paint thinners contain harsh chemicals that may be too abrasive for automotive finishes, potentially causing damage to the paint and clear coat. It’s essential to use a paint thinner that is compatible with automotive paints to ensure effective tar removal without compromising the integrity of the vehicle’s finish. Checking the product label and testing a small, inconspicuous area before widespread application can help prevent unintended damage.

Effectiveness on Fresh vs. Aged Tar Deposits:

The effectiveness of paint thinner in removing tar can also vary based on the freshness of the tar deposits. Fresh tar is generally more responsive to paint thinner, as it hasn’t had the chance to harden and adhere firmly to the car’s surface. In such cases, applying a small amount of paint thinner and gently wiping the affected area may successfully dissolve the tar. However, for older and more stubborn tar deposits, additional methods such as gentle scraping or using specialized tar removal products may be necessary, as paint thinner alone might not provide sufficient penetration.

Application Technique:

The technique used when applying paint thinner is a critical factor in its success. It’s advisable to apply a small amount of paint thinner to a clean cloth or sponge and gently rub the tar-covered area. Avoid excessive rubbing or scrubbing, as this could damage the paint. Allow the paint thinner to sit on the tar for a short period to break down the adhesive properties of the tar. Afterward, use a clean cloth to wipe away the dissolved tar. Rinsing the area with water and applying a mild automotive soap can help remove any residue and ensure the paint thinner does not linger on the surface.

Precautions and Safety Measures:

When using paint thinner to remove tar from a car, it’s crucial to take safety precautions. Work in a well-ventilated area to minimize inhalation of fumes, and wear protective gloves to prevent skin contact. Avoid applying paint thinner near plastic or rubber components, as it may cause damage. Additionally, do not use paint thinner on convertible tops, as it can compromise their water-resistant properties. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines for the specific paint thinner being used to ensure safe and effective tar removal.

How do you remove tar from a car with ceramic coating?

Paint sealants are fairly resistant to solvents, especially ceramic coatings, and so tar removing products are safe to use. There are many ways to remove tar spots, plenty of solvents will do the job. However, we recommend you buy a purpose made tar remover from a respected brand.

Choosing the Right Products:

When dealing with tar on a car with ceramic coating, selecting the right cleaning products is crucial. Avoid abrasive or harsh chemicals that can damage the ceramic coating. Instead, opt for gentle tar removers specifically designed for use on coated surfaces. These products are formulated to break down tar without harming the protective layer. Additionally, consider using a microfiber cloth or a soft sponge to apply the tar remover, ensuring that it effectively targets the affected areas while minimizing the risk of scratches.


Gentle Mechanical Methods:

In cases where tar is stubborn and requires a bit more effort, gentle mechanical methods can be employed. Soft detailing brushes or tar-specific cleaning tools can be used to agitate the tar without causing damage to the ceramic coating. Ensure that the brushes or tools are soft and designed for use on coated surfaces to prevent any abrasion. The goal is to dislodge the tar particles without compromising the integrity of the ceramic coating. A careful and patient approach is essential to avoid unnecessary friction that could lead to scratches or other damage.


Pre-Wash and Precautions:

Before attempting to remove tar, it’s advisable to pre-wash the car to loosen any loose contaminants and provide a clean surface for the tar removal process. Use a gentle car wash soap and a microfiber wash mitt to avoid scratching the ceramic coating. Additionally, consider using a pre-wash solution specifically designed to break down surface contaminants. Take precautions to work on the tar removal in a shaded area to prevent the cleaning products from drying on the surface too quickly. If the tar is particularly stubborn, it may be beneficial to let the tar remover dwell on the affected areas for a short period before gently agitating and wiping it away.


Thorough Rinse and Inspection:

After successfully removing the tar, thoroughly rinse the car to ensure that all residues are washed away. Use a hose or pressure washer to remove any remaining tar remover or loosened particles. Once the car is dry, inspect the ceramic coating for any signs of damage. Check for changes in water beading or surface texture, as these could indicate potential issues with the coating. If the ceramic coating appears unaffected, you can apply a fresh layer of ceramic coating or sealant to restore and enhance the protective properties.


Regular Maintenance and Protection:

To prevent future tar adhesion and maintain the effectiveness of the ceramic coating, engage in regular maintenance. This includes routine washing with pH-neutral car wash soaps and using ceramic coating-friendly detailing products. Applying a ceramic coating booster or topper periodically can also help rejuvenate the coating and enhance its protective qualities. By maintaining the ceramic coating, you not only protect your car’s finish but also make it easier to deal with contaminants like tar in the future.

Is tar remover safe for car paint?

Have stubborn road tar or asphalt stuck to your rocker panels? Watch it it easily melts away with just a few sprays. Bug & Tar Remover is safe for clear coat, single stage paint, as well as paint protection films (PPF) or vinyl wraps.

Composition of Tar Removers:

Tar removers typically consist of a blend of solvents and detergents specifically chosen to break down and dissolve tar, asphalt, and similar contaminants. These solvents are generally designed to be strong enough to remove stubborn residues while being mindful of not damaging the car’s paint. However, the composition can vary between products, and it is essential to choose a reputable brand that formulates its tar remover with consideration for the safety of automotive paint. Reading product labels and ensuring compatibility with different paint types is a prudent practice.

Compatibility with Car Paint:

In general, when used as directed, tar removers are safe for automotive paint. However, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Some tar removers may be more suitable for specific types of paint finishes, such as clear coats or single-stage paints. Testing the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the car before widespread application is a good practice to ensure compatibility. Additionally, prolonged exposure or excessive use of tar remover may lead to paint damage, so it’s important not to leave the product on the surface longer than recommended.

Proper Application and Usage:

Using a tar remover safely involves applying the product with caution and care. It is advisable to work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gloves to prevent skin contact. Apply the tar remover sparingly on the affected areas and use a soft, non-abrasive microfiber cloth or sponge to gently agitate and lift the tar. Avoid using excessive force or abrasive materials that could scratch the paint. After the tar is removed, thoroughly rinse the area with water to ensure any residual tar remover is completely washed away. Following these guidelines helps to minimize the risk of adverse effects on the car’s paint.

Potential Risks and Precautions:

While tar removers are generally safe for car paint, there are potential risks associated with their misuse. Leaving the product on the paint for an extended period or using it on hot surfaces may increase the likelihood of damage. Additionally, some older or poorly maintained paint finishes may be more susceptible to adverse reactions. It’s crucial to be aware of the condition of the car’s paint and exercise caution when using tar remover. If there are any concerns or uncertainties about a specific tar remover, consulting with automotive professionals or referring to user reviews can provide valuable insights.

How To Remove Road Tar From Car


The battle against road tar on a car demands a nuanced and strategic approach, considering both the stubborn nature of the substance and the delicate surfaces of the vehicle. Throughout this exploration, we have uncovered a range of effective methods and solutions for removing road tar, each catering to various preferences and resources.


From the gentle use of household items like vegetable oil to the more targeted application of commercial tar removers, car owners now possess a diverse arsenal for combatting this resilient foe. The significance of swift action and regular maintenance to prevent prolonged exposure cannot be overstated, emphasizing the importance of proactive care to preserve the integrity of a vehicle’s paintwork and finish.


Moreover, the exploration has underscored the role of caution and diligence in the removal process, ensuring that chosen methods do not inadvertently harm the car’s surfaces. As drivers strive to maintain the aesthetic appeal of their vehicles, the insights gathered here serve as a practical guide, empowering individuals to reclaim the beauty of their cars and protect their investments.


Ultimately, the knowledge shared in this exploration enables car owners to navigate the road tar removal process with confidence, transforming what was once an exasperating challenge into a manageable task. With these insights, the road ahead for car enthusiasts and daily commuters alike becomes smoother, cleaner, and more enjoyable.

Vaishnavi vaish

Vaishnavi is an automotive enthusiast and writer with a passion for all things cars. With years of experience in the automotive industry, Vaishnavi brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Vroom's platform. Whether it's dissecting the latest car models, exploring industry trends, or delving into the intricacies of automotive technology, Vaishnavi is dedicated to providing readers with comprehensive and insightful content. From performance reviews to in-depth car comparisons, Vaishnavi strives to deliver accurate and engaging information to help readers make informed decisions about their next vehicle purchase. Explore the world of automobiles with Vaishnavi on Vroom and stay updated on the latest developments in the automotive world.

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