How to Remove Paint Overspray From Rubber on Cars

Updated April 17, 2017

When painting a car, it can be hard to remember to protect every part from overspray. Tires are often left uncovered since they don't seem to be a major part of the car's surface. Overspray from paint and primer can get all over the rubber on the tires. Most of the paint may come off over long periods of time, but it you want to remove the paint overspray from the rubber immediately, it will take some work.

Pour paint thinner onto a towel and then wipe the towel over the paint overspray. Make sure the towel is soaked with thinner. Don't pour the thinner directly on the tires or you risk getting thinner on the rims or the surrounding painted surfaces of the car. You need enough thinner to soak the paint overspray on the tires only. Allow it to soak for five minutes.

Use a red scuff pad from an auto parts store to scrub the paint overspray. Red scuff pads are the equivalent to a fine grit sandpaper but won't fall apart when scrubbing the rubber tires. Scrub until all the overspray is gone.

Wash the tires and wheels with car wash soap and water. This removes any remaining paint thinner and overspray. Don't use dish liquid, which can cause the rubber to dry out prematurely. Rinse the tires and wheels completely with a hose or clean water.


Paint thinner is toxic and harmful if the fumes are inhaled. Use paint thinner in an open, well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint thinner
  • Towel
  • Red scuff pad
  • Car wash soap
  • Water
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About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.