Tar can be very hard to get off your car when you’ve driven over a newly constructed road or a fresh asphalt repair. It will stick to your car’s fenders, wheels and skirts with a vengeance. This sticky substance commonly called “tar” is actually bitumen, a black mixture of hydrocarbons that is used for modern road construction and repair. Bitumen is malleable or semi-fluid when applied, but it hardens over hours or days, depending on its composition and temperature conditions.
Things can get really nasty when you don’t clean off this gunk right away. If you allow it to harden for a couple of days or longer, the tar will harden and get even more difficult to remove.
No need to panic, though! In this “How To” we’ll show you how to quickly and easily remove tar from your car without damaging your car paint.
Products and tools you need to get tar off your car:
- WD40 (for fresh, soft tar only) or Schaeffer Citrol 266 (for fresh and dried, hardened tar)
- High pH car wash soap
- Microfiber towels
- Pressure washer or hose
Here’s How To Remove Tar From Your Car in 10 Easy Steps:
1. Park Your Car In The Shade
Direct sunlight will soften your car paint, making it prone to scratching. Also, if the product dries too fast, it won’t have the time to dissolve the tar splatter.
When applied in full sunlight or on a hot surface, products tend to evaporate and leave spots too. You want to avoid that, of course.
2. Blast the tar-soiled area clean with a pressure washer or hose
Blast off all sand, dirt and grit from the tar-covered area and its direct surroundings to minimize the risk of scratching your car paint during the following washing and tar-removal process.
Preferably use a pressure washer and blast the car paint at an angle of around 45 degrees. You want to avoid hitting your car paint at a sharp 90° angle, blasting the sharp contaminants straight onto the car paint, virtually sandblasting it. A soft 45° angle is the safe way to go.
If you don’t have access to a pressure washer, use a hose with an adjustable jet instead and adjust it to the most powerful narrow water jet. Although much less effective, a hose will blast off a good amount of sand and grit.
3. Wash the tar-soiled area with high pH car wash soap
Fill your car wash bucket halfway with hot water. Hotter is better because hot water softens tar. However, you want to use caution not to burn yourself. Use common sense. Squirt some high pH car soap in the water according to the instructions on the bottle.
Using only very light pressure, gently work the area with a microfiber towel soaked with hot soapy water. The idea is to wash away remaining dirt and to soften the tar before applying a tar removal product. The high pH soap might remove the tar partially too, depending on how long it has been on there.
4. Dry the tar-soiled area
Very gently dry the area with a fresh, soft microfiber towel by applying the least possible amount of pressure to avoid scratching your car paint.
The area has to be completely dry before applying tar remover.
5. Spray the tar-soiled area with tar remover
Abundantly spray the dry, tar-soiled area with Citrol spray. WD40 works great too in case the tar hasn’t been on your car paint for long. If it has been on there for weeks or months, Citrol does a much better and faster job dissolving the tar.
Neither of these products will harm your car paint or plastic parts. They are 100% safe to use.
Let the product soak for a few minutes but keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t dry. Especially with warm ambient temperatures, the product will work faster but it will also dry faster, so keep a close eye.
You’ll see a dark brownish runoff almost right away after spraying the product. However, you want to give the product enough time to dissolve the tar, so hold your horses!
6. Wipe the tar off with a clean microfiber towel
With a microfiber towel folded in half and again in half, wipe off the product with moderate pressure. Most of the tar should come off easily depending on how long the tar has had time to harden and the ambient temperature. Flip the microfiber towel to a fresh side each time it gets dirty. You don’t want to rub the sandy tar over your car paint.
If there is still some tar left, repeat step 5 and 6 until all of that nasty stuff is dissolved.
7. Wash the tar remover off with high pH car wash soap
Now that the tar has been removed, you want to wash the car paint a second and last time with the high-pH soapy water to remove all chemical residue.
The water will have cooled down, but that doesn’t matter for this application.
Using only very light pressure, gently work the area with a fresh microfiber towel soaked with soapy water.
8. Rinse the area with a pressure washer or hose
Rinse the area thoroughly with a pressure washer or a hose before it dries to remove all soap residue.
9. Dry the entire area
Very gently dry the entire area with a fresh, soft microfiber towel by applying the least possible amount of pressure, again to avoid scratching your car paint.
10. Protect the freshly decontaminated paint with wax or sealant
Finally, if your car paint had some form of protection like wax or sealant, you want to reapply the same product locally to protect the decontaminated area against deterioration.
If you don’t, it won’t be water-repellent. Because the area you’ve decontaminated is stripped of its protection, it will stick out like a sore thumb in rainy conditions because water will sheet off, while the water on the surrounding area will bead off.
All that nasty goo is gone and your car shines like before!
What Is the Best Product to Remove Tar from a Car?
Extensive testing as well as customer reviews unanimously confirm that there is one product that outperforms its competitors when it comes to removing fresh or even old, dried tar from a car: Schaeffer Citrol 266.
Although WD40 works great on fresh tar, it doesn’t work well on tar that’s been on your car for a long time.
Can I Use Household Products to Remove Tar from a Car?
Using household products to remove tar from your car is not a good idea. Although some household products dissolve tar, they are not as effective at removing tar than specially formulated products. Because those household products weren’t designed to be used on automotive plastic and car paint, they might even damage your car.
The only household product that is known to work for tar removal and that is 100% safe to use on car paint and plastic parts is WD40.
However, extensive testing as well as customer reviews unanimously confirm that there is one specialist product that outperforms its competitors when it comes to removing fresh or even old, dried tar from a car: Schaeffer Citrol 266. If you want the most effective product to remove tar without ruining your car, this is the only way to go!
Can I Remove Tar from my Car’s Windows and Mirrors?
Yes, you can easily remove tar from your car’s windows and mirrors using Schaeffer Citrol 266. Simply spray it on the tar and let the product dissolve the tar for a couple of minutes but don’t let it dry. Wipe clean with a fresh microfiber towel and the tar is gone. Works every time! This awesome product is 100% safe on all automotive paint and plastics too.