Roads are built using black, viscous liquid tar, which sticks to surfaces upon application. While driving, tar from newly carpeted roads or newly covered potholes can stick to various components of the car. You can often find it near the wheel wells and on the lower section of a car’s body. Your vehicle’s fenders, hood, bumpers, grilles, headlights and even its windows will get stained with it if you are not careful.

The Impact of Road Tar

A tar layer can ruin the look of your car’s paint since it sticks to the surface and doesn’t wash off.  Moreover, tar causes tire damage since it collects gravel as you drive through an affected area. In addition to stiff tires, tar can affect your vehicle’s performance on highways. 

After driving through road tar, your car may also have been affected in other ways, so be sure to examine all of the impacted areas closely. The sooner you get it off, the better. 

In contrast to mud and insects that can stain your painted surfaces, tar adheres to them more strongly. Therefore, removing it can be very challenging. You need to take care not to damage the paint in the process.

Getting tar off car

Removing tar off car exterior

Tar contains oil, making it different from cleaning bugs and tree sap. It does not harden rigidly, but it is impossible to remove with just regular soap. Car wash machines and manual rubbing often cannot remove road tar. Then how do you safely clean this nasty mess off your car?

Bugs and tar require a tough cleaner. However, your paint should stay protected. A variety of sprays and liquid tar removers are available at auto parts shops and online. There are also several home remedies to try including WD-40, peanut butter, vegetable or baby oil. Tar removal products function as solvents and cleaning agents that dissolve the road tar and bug splatter on your car’s paintwork.

Using a microfiber cloth, these products can be sprayed or rubbed on tar spots. Many applications may be required, especially if the tar has been there for some time. Road tar and asphalt are gradually broken down with tar removers, lubricating the area and making it easier to wash off your vehicle.

The paintwork of your car is not damaged when tar remover products are used correctly. Even though the formulas are highly potent and powerful, they’re PH-neutral, making them safe on most painted surfaces.

Any dedicated cleaner must be handled with gloves and eye protection. Tar may chip off as you remove it, which could get in your eyes. Use well-ventilated work areas if you’re using chemicals to remove tar. Fumes from the chemicals can make you sick. You want to avoid scraping the actual paint when cleaning the tar. A lot of people overdo it and ruin the paint.

Here are some options you can consider when it comes to tar removal:

Stoner Car Care Tarminator Tar & Sap Remover

With Stoner Car Care’s Tarminator, you can effectively remove tar and asphalt from a car. The product works well in removing hardened tree sap as well. As a result, you get a great deal for your money.

Tarminator’s formula has been infused with Micro Active cleaning technology that attacks baked-on tar, sap, and asphalt. This product eliminates road grime without harming paint or clear coats, and is even suitable for chrome. In a matter of seconds, it penetrates deep into the materials to remove tar and sap. You can wipe off residue after it liquefies sticky substances.

It is best to use Tarminator on cool surfaces, so it is smart to rinse the area with water first to cool it down and remove light dirt. The best way to use Tarminator is to tackle small areas at a time. Using clean water, rinse off the excess material within 30 to 60 seconds. Follow the instructions on the package closely when using this product, and only apply it to the painted metal of your car.

Adams Tar and Adhesive Remover

In a short amount of time, Adam’s TAR can dissolve contaminants such as tar, sap, grease, asphalt, adhesive residue, and glue. Easily removes vehicle badges, stickers, weights, tar, and track marks as well. 

This specially designed, unique blend of strong solvents, citrus oils, and alcohols makes Adam’s TAR incredibly effective at removing even baked-on contaminants that other cleansers are unable to remove. Despite being primarily solvent-based, the product is formulated so as not to dull or damage surfaces.

This product does not smell nice but removes hardened debris from your vehicle with ease. It can be kept in your garage for removing toughened stains. You can use it on clear coats, paints and chrome.

Applied to a cool and moist surface, Adam’s TAR works beautifully. It is important that the liquid doesn’t dry completely after application. It should not be lingering more than one minute since its strong active solvents may damage surfaces if left unattended.

It’s a good idea to wash your car before applying this product. Spray the tar remover on your car while it’s still wet.

CarPro Tar X

A natural solvent derived from orange peels is used in the CarPro Tar X Tar Remover. Using Tar X, you can remove grease, asphalt, insect residue, tire marks, adhesives, traffic film, and other tough contaminants. To use TarX, simply apply it to the area affected by bugs and tar and let it rest for 2-8 minutes. Wipe and wash away the dirt afterwards.

Once sprayed on, the tar dissolves instantly, saving you time and energy by eliminating the need to use excessive clay bars or extra pressure when cleaning.  Having a high viscosity, it sticks better to the surfaces of vehicles.

Regardless of its powerful cleaning capabilities, TarX is gentle on surfaces. CarPro claims that this product protects and extends the life of any wax, sealant, or ceramic coating on your car. Due to the absence of chlorinated solvents or harsh chemicals, this product is noncorrosive. The product is safe to be used on surfaces other than your vehicle exterior, including the tires.

Do not leave the product exposed to direct sunlight for more than ten minutes, particularly on plastic components. If necessary, use a power washer or running water to thoroughly rinse.


If these products do not work, you can use WD40, but it is not intended for this purpose. Because it wasn’t designed to remove tar, it could damage your paint. It will also not be as effective. It is best to use tar-removing formula and follow instructions to prevent your clearcoat from being damaged.

Put on your protective gloves and spray WD-40 directly or use a microfiber cloth on the tar spots. Rub the area with a dry microfiber towel after soaking for ten minutes to half an hour. Replace the towel as soon as it becomes dirty and repeat until all asphalt is gone. Large, persistent spots will require more applications and rubbing than smaller ones.

WD-40 can remove sealant from your paint, so you may need to reapply it. It also works to clean bugs and bird poop as well. However, you should never use WD-40 on your windows since you will leave an oily residue that may be difficult to remove.

Peanut Butter and Vegetable Oil

In addition to peanut butter and vegetable oil, baby oil also works sometimes and is milder, so your clear coat will not be damaged. The vegetable oil in peanut butter breaks down the tar. Peanut butter paste serves as a mild abrasive that won’t damage the paint.  Simple Green and harsher petroleum products should be avoided, as they will prematurely destroy clear-coats and paint.

Other Solvents

It is possible to remove tar with other solvents, but ensure that they are suitable for use on automotive paint before using them. A wide range of substances, such as engine cleaners, kerosene, diesel, gasoline, turpentine, mineral spirits, lacquer thinners, may be effective at removing tar, but they can also damage the clear coat of paint.