Have you ever had to drive on a freshly-repaired road?
Or, perhaps you’ve had to drive by a construction site where the workers were laying down a new road. Whatever the situation, driving on such road surfaces can put you in a sticky situation, literally.
That’s because the tar on these roads can easily adhere to your car’s exterior, tires, and other parts.
The good news is, you can use a homemade tar remover to get rid of it. Read on to learn how to make your own tar remover with readily available household items.
Effects of Road Tar on Vehicles
I’ll start with the basics: tar is the black and sticky substance – usually a mixture of asphalt and water – used to repair holes and cracks on road surfaces.
Due to its gooey texture, this tar is easily picked up by a vehicle’s wheels. As a result, it ends up sticking onto the car’s paint, bumpers, headlights, grille, and the interior of the wheel wells.
In addition to making your car look hideous, this tar can damage the paint of your vehicle; hence, leading to expensive repairs.
Besides, if the tar is left to sit on tires for too long, it can harden; thus, compromise their performance.
Purpose of a Homemade Tar Remover
Not every car problem warrants a visit to the mechanic. Some issues are easy to fix using DIY procedures. Luckily for you, tar removal is one such problem that you can correct on your own.
This brings me to the question, what kind of solvents dissolve tar? Well, here’s a list of household products that can double up as tar removal solutions:
- Vegetable Oil
- Baking Soda
- Peanut Butter
How to Make and Use Homemade Tar Remover
The beauty of most of these homemade tar removers is that they don’t require any prior preparation. Once you have the item on hand, and a piece of cloth for application, you can start your DIY project. Here’s a detailed guide on how to go about these home remedies:
Main Ingredients: What You Need
The first thing you need to do is collect all the supplies you need for the tar removal process. This not only helps you stay organized but also saves you time. So here’s what you need:
- A bucket filled with clean water or a hose
- A few microfiber towels
- Eye protection
- The tar removal product (peanut butter, WD-40, baking soda, etc.)
- Car wash soap
- A dollop of peanut butter
- Baking soda paste – equal parts water and baking soda
- A few drops of vegetable oil
- WD-40 and tar removal sprays – as specified on the package
Find a suitable area
In addition to gathering the materials above, you’ll also want to park your vehicle in a flat and well-ventilated work area. This could be your driveway, garage floor or street parking. If you decide to use the street parking, be careful not to block the road.
Application and Removal
Removing tar with chemical solvent (like kerosene)
One of the most recommended products for tar removal is kerosene. You can also use mineral spirits or diesel fuel in place of kerosene. Here’s how to go about this remedy:
- Soak a clean microfiber towel in your preferred chemical solvent and place it on the tar-stained spot
- Let it sit for about ten minutes before removing. Next, wipe the area with a fresh microfiber towel to remove the tar and traces of the chemical solvent
- Repeat the process until you’ve removed all the tar
Although kerosene and mineral spirits can remove tar, they’re also flammable products that pose a risk hazard. If you prefer a more eco-friendly solution, consider:
Removing tar with peanut butter
Start by identifying tar spots on your vehicle. Scoop a small amount of peanut butter and apply it on them.
Let the peanut butter sit on the target areas for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.
Next, take your microfiber cloth and wipe the residue away using a circular motion. This gentle rubbing should cause the tar to slide off alongside the peanut butter.
If you’re dealing with dried tar, however, it might not come off with the first attempt. But don’t give up just yet. Simply, repeat the process by reapplying the PB and leaving it to sit for some time.
This peanut butter solution is particularly effective at removing road tar from the car body.
So, what about glass surfaces like headlights or windshields? It can be used in these areas too. But, you should be careful not to apply too much pressure as this can break the glass. For such delicate surfaces, a tar removal spray is a safer bet.
Removing tar with vegetable oil
You can use pretty much any vegetable oil that you have on hand- canola, soybean, linseed e.t.c Simply, apply a few drops of the oil on the affected area and leave it for a few minutes before wiping it off.
Be ready to reapply the oil several times to get rid of all the tar. This is because vegetable oil is not a very powerful solvent compared to products like WD-40 and kerosene.
Alternatively, you can mix the vegetable oil with distilled white vinegar in equal proportions to create a more powerful tar solvent.
Removing tar with baking soda
This is the only household product that requires a bit of mixing.
Still, it’s not too time-consuming or complicated. All you need to do is create a paste by mixing baking soda and water in equal parts. If removing stubborn tar stains, you can swap the water for distilled white vinegar/
Once the paste is ready, use a clean cloth to scrub it on the tar spot. Apply little pressure when scrubbing the spot and you should be able to remove the tar with a few attempts.
The last step is to rinse the area with clean water.
Other Tar Removers
Removing tar with WD-40 / Goo-Gone
If you have access to popular cleaning products like WD-40 or Goo Gone, then you can use them too.
Both contain oil, which does an excellent job of breaking down the tar; thus, allowing it to slide off with ease. Here’s how to use them:
- The first step is to spray the Goo Gone or WD-40 on a microfiber towel. Next, rub the towel into the affected area.
- Leave the cleaning product to sit on the tar spot for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Once this duration has elapsed, look for a clean microfiber cloth and rub the area until all the tar is gone.
- If using WD-40, you’ll want to clean the area at least two times. This is to ensure that you’ve removed all the product’s residue. Failing to clean off the leftover chemicals can cause permanent damage to the car
Removing tar with tar removal spray
If you’re looking for a foolproof solution, then a tar removal spray is a fantastic choice.
It’s formulated with dissolving materials that cause the tar to break down. Follow these steps to remove tar with this product:
- Take a clean microfiber towel and wet it slightly by spraying a few pumps of the product
- Take the wet cloth and rub it on the area with tar using a circular motion
- Repeat this process a couple of times till you’ve removed all the tar
Regardless of the tar removal remedy you use, ensure you follow these safety precautions:
- Wear protective gloves, especially if you’ll be handling powerful products like mineral spirits, gasoline and WD-40
- Test the product – always test the cleaning product on a small and inconspicuous area first. You don’t want your homemade tar remover to end up causing damage to the car.
- Exercise patience – allow whatever product you’ve chosen to penetrate tar by giving it time. Depending on the remover, you might have to let it soak for up to thirty minutes.
- Use several pieces of cloth – whenever the microfiber towel gets dirty from the tar stain, replace it with a clean one. Using the dirty one can rub the tar back onto the surface.
Does Vinegar Remove Tar?
Yes, it does.
However, it’s not advisable to apply vinegar directly on the body of your car as it might be too harsh. If you want to protect your car’s paint, be sure to dilute it with water.
Alternatively, you can add a tiny amount of vinegar to the household solutions mentioned above, such as baking soda and vegetable oil.
If you’ve driven on a newly-paved road and ended up with tar on your car, you can get rid of the stain using a homemade tar remover.
Such a product is cheap and easy to make using readily available products like baking soda, vinegar, and vegetable oil.
And while it might require a few applications to work, it’s safer to use than store-bought tar removers that can damage the car’s paint or wax.