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Wash off the indelible: removing tar from the car

The stains that are produced by the splashes when driving on newly asphalted areas or in works are very difficult to remove, and more time passes since they are produced until we remove them. We tell you some tricks so that you can remove those uncomfortable asphalt and tar stains.

Tar and asphalt stains are very difficult to remove from the paintwork and are very unsightly on the parts of the bodywork on which these splashes are projected, mainly on the lower part of the front doors and behind the rear wheel arches. To avoid damaging the paint of the car and the moldings or plastic parts we tell you these tricks on how to remove asphalt stains from the car.

The first tip is not to let too much time pass from the moment you realize they are there until you try to clean them.

The more time passes, the more they dry out and it is more difficult to remove them, but, in addition, we also run the risk of damaging the paint varnish.

What are the dangers of tar for your car?

Any substances that are deposited on the body paint penetrate the paint layer and cause corrosion. The later the formation of such stains is detected, the more difficult they are to remove. Tar is a substance obtained by processing petroleum tar, which adheres to the body very quickly, an ordinary wash with shampoo will not remove them. An improperly chosen compound can cause damage to the vehicle.

Peculiarities of bitumen stains to be aware of

Bitumen is not used in its pure form, it acts as the main component in many industrial mixtures.

Regardless of the purpose and composition of the product, all such resins have a number of common features:

  • They have a fairly low softening point. Therefore, you should not drive on newly repaired asphalt on particularly hot days.
  • The components of the composition are toxic, so you should not delay its removal from the car body. Doses of substances are certainly not lethal for the human body but have a negative impact on the quality of materials.
  • Bitumen is characterized by an intrusive nature. If you do not start cleaning the problem area as soon as possible, the molecules of the product can penetrate quite deeply, making it difficult to restore the surface.
  • It is not recommended to try to remove cured bitumen mechanically, the risk of damaging the material is too high. Only if the “blot” protrudes heavily over the surface can it be carefully cut away.

Tar on cars: consequences

To begin with, tar consists of light oil fractions. After getting on the car, this substance penetrates its structure. As a result, yellow stains appear, which are not easy to remove. It is not difficult to clean the fresh tar, but the outdated bitumen is not an easy thing to do.

Dried tar should be removed in several steps.

It will take a lot of time before the car will shine again. If you leave everything on its own and do not pay attention, then later you will have to pay a lot of money to professionals to remove the accumulated plaque of tar.

Choice of remedies for removing tar from the car body

Tar penetrates the paint quickly enough, and therefore the most effective is the removal of tar from a car that has just reacted.

Cleaning stale stains will be much more difficult: they will require not only more time and effort, but also more money. Therefore, if you notice that the body of your car is facing this nuisance, deal with the removal of tar from the car as soon as possible.

Preparations that are used for cleaning from tar and removing tar from the car body, conditionally divided into two groups: universal and specialized.

  • Universal means. The distinctive feature of the universal means for removing tar from a car is the surface-active substances and water-soluble additives, such as alcohols and alkalis, which are used as a base. Such substances are nonflammable and generally have little or no odor. They can not only remove tar from a vehicle, but also clean it of insect debris, bird droppings, and a number of other contaminants.
  • Special products. Unlike the previous group, these preparations are designed exclusively to remove tar from the car, these anti-bitumen products can work not only with fresh but also with stale contaminants. They are made on the basis of petroleum fractions and with special additives, are flammable, and may have a pungent smell. However, it is necessary to work with such agents very carefully: together with the ugly stain, the active substances may spoil the paintwork itself.
  • You can also camouflage the minor soiling with colored polish, but keep in mind that the bituminous layer will not disappear.

When deciding to remove asphalt from a car, choose a remedy based on the age of the dirt. Getting rid of fresh stains, you can get by with a universal product, while the removal of tar from the car, which is quite a long time, can only hold special chemistry.

tar on the car

How to remove a fresh bitumen stain

When deciding where and how to remove tar stains, keep in mind: remove them as quickly as possible – it’s easier and more effective. Prepare some kind of cleaner: from the usual car wash to special agents for removing tar. As a last resort, kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel will do.

  1. First, spray the contaminated surfaces of the body with the preparation, let the tar stains “dry out”.
  2. After a while, start scrubbing with a rag soaked in the product.
  3. Soaked from time and heat, deposits of tar have to be strongly soaked and even pick up with a wooden spatula. Beware of scratching the paintwork.
  4. If the tar yellowing does get into the paint, you can try removing it with a professional deep polish. With conventional, non-metalized paint, this is more common than with lacquer.
  5. After the tar stains are removed, be sure to shampoo the area so that the solvent residue does not continue to affect the coating.

All the above also applies to wheel rims – especially if they are light-colored. They should therefore also be inspected after long journeys and cleaned in good time. Applying a layer of hard wax or a protective film to the sills and undersides of the body in advance will make it easier to remove the tar.

Using a spray to remove road tar

You will need a bucket, car tar remover, car wash soap, a microfiber glove or towel, and car wax.

  • Step 1: Wet a terry cloth, sponge, or mitt with tar remover. If the tar is too hardened, you can clean the stain while spraying the tar remover on the target spot.
  • Step 2: Wipe the tar stain with a damp cloth in a circular motion. The tar will soften and flow off easily if you apply a little effort. If the cloth is soiled on one side, turn it over and use the opposite side.
  • Step 3: Repeat step 2 with another clean towel until all stains are removed.
  • Step 4: Wash the car with a solution of car soap in a bucket, foam, or pressure washer. Wash from top to bottom and rinse again from top to bottom.
  • Step 5: Check for resin residue. If so, you can repeat steps 1-3, this time cleaning the stain.
  • Step 6: Wax the car to condition the paint and give it a shiny sheen.

Using household solutions

You’ll need a bucket, a microfiber towel, a rag or pad, a household stain remover such as WD-40 or peanut butter, and finally, car wash soap and wax.

  • Step 1: If you’re using WD-40, spray it on the targeted areas, let it cure, and soak the resin for at least 30 seconds. You can also spray it on a towel or pillow and wipe off the tar stains.
  • If you are using peanut butter, make sure it is smooth and natural, not crunchy with additives. Put the oil on a microfiber cloth and apply it to the tar stain. Allow them to react for about 30 seconds before washing.
  • Step 2: Use a second soft cloth to wipe off the oil and tar mixture. Repeat this until you can no longer see the tar stains.
  • Step 3: Wash and wax your car.


Keeping your car in good shape requires constant attention, care, and maintenance.

Preventing tar stains can be helpful, but it’s not always possible, and your car may be exposed to these stains from time to time. Because they are made of oil, these stains will require different attention than what you need to do to remove wood sap stains.

However, using home remedies or a commercial cleaner should help you get your car back to pristine condition. So taking care of it really isn’t that difficult.

With that said, keep in mind that the earlier you dissolve the stains, the faster (and easier) the whole process will be.

Dried stains are very difficult to remove, and you’ll probably need professional help to deal with them, which will greatly increase the cost of repairs. So, the moral of the story: don’t leave them out until they’re dry!

Way to safely remove tar from the car?- Video


Is WD-40 safe on car paint?

WD-40 will not harm your car’s paint and should work to remove sap, tar, adhesives and even chewing gum from seats and carpets.

Does peanut butter remove tar?

Peanut butter will remove road tar in a jiffy. All you need to remove the tar splatters is a jar of peanut butter, but NOT crunchy!

Will rubbing alcohol remove tar?

Yes, but it’s not the best solution. Any rough moves with any solvent can leave a mark. Take your time. Let the solvent do the job, not the paper towel and your elbow grease.

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

Hey, I’m David. I’ve worked in a cars store for 6 years. I write reviews and guides, helping people to choose the most suitable technicals and best product for them. I’m happy to finally share my knowledge of the industry here, on CarnesMechanical.

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