How to Clean Tar Off Car Paint

Written by j. johnson
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How to Clean Tar Off Car Paint
Newly-paved roads can splash tar on your vehicle. (road works. road construction image by L. Shat from

Some vehicle owners take great pride in the overall condition of their vehicles. If you're one of these owners, then you probably care a lot about the condition of your car, how it runs and what it looks like, especially the paint job. To keep your car looking great, you should clean it often and know how to clean off common substances like road tar. This often ends up on your vehicle after driving on a road that is currently under construction. It might look messy, but you can remove it with a little knowledge and effort.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Solvent-based cleaning agent
  • Soft cloth
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Find all the tar that's on the paint of your car. The most common places for road tar are on the bottom of your door panels, on the rocker panels and inside the wheel wells.

  2. 2

    Move your car to a shady area. The cooler the surface of your car, the easier it will be to remove the tar.

  3. 3

    Apply a solvent-based cleaning agent to the tar. These products can be purchased at auto supply shops and are made specifically for cleaning tar, grease and tree sap from your car without damaging the paint job.

  4. 4

    Allow the cleaning agent to sit on your car for several minutes; read the instructions on the container for specifics. Give it more time if the tar doesn't come off easily.

  5. 5

    Use a soft cloth to gently remove the cleaning agent and the tar. Test a small area first to make sure the tar lifts off easily. Do not scrub or clean vigorously. Doing so may damage the paint.

  6. 6

    Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water once the tar and the cleaning agent have been removed.

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