How to Get Tar Off Your Car - The Right Way!

Tar is compounded resin material that’s dark and thick and is used as glue on road surfaces. When a vehicle passes over it, the wheels kick up tar particles that stick to the underside and on the lower parts of body panels. Tar on your car is bad news. It makes your car look bad and over time, it ruins the finish and the paint. Your car is a big investment. For those reasons, you should get rid of the tar stuck to your car.

Fortunately, we wrote this article to give you three simple, home remedies for removing tar from your paint.

The Solution

The solution is using either a solvent like tar remover, WD-40 lubricant or an oily household product like peanut butter.


Small rocks can get stuck in the car so rubbing the tar stains can roll the rocks around and scratch your paint. For the easiest solutions, we recommend either WD40 or tar remover. But we included peanut butter here as something you can use if you're desperate and need it off now.

Peanut Butter

If you’ve got peanut butter handy, you can try this method first. If it works, you save the money spent on the commercial products that are used to remove tar. Bring a microfiber towel with the peanut butter to do this task. Apply peanut butter to the tar on your car by swabbing it on with the microfiber towel. Repeat the application wherever there’s a spot of tar on your car.

Time is on your side. Allow the peanut butter to penetrate the tar. This should take about thirty minutes.

Next, take the microfiber towel and wipe the peanut butter and tar off. Rub repeatedly over tar spots that are stubborn and don’t want to come out. This method will only work if you rub the tar out. This is not a rinse and repeat method. It takes a little elbow grease.

If the tar is found on a glass surface like your windshield, apply the process with the peanut butter. It might be the easiest way to clean tar off a glass surface because other methods may involve chemical solvents that smear on the glass and are difficult to remove. Just be gentle and don’t apply too much pressure when rubbing a glass surface.

Take the car to the self-service car wash afterward. Pay special attention to the area you just cleaned to get the entire residue out.


WD 40 is another household product that effectively removes tar. It works on the same principle as peanut butter. It lubricates the tar and loosens it from the body panel. And who doesn’t keep a can of WD-40 around the house?

With WD-40, spray the lubricant directly onto the spots and the affected area. Spray it on the tar spots and residue and let it soak in. Put a piece of cardboard or towel down below the part of the car you are treating to catch the residual WD-40. If you sprayed it on, let it soak for ten minutes to a half-hour before rubbing the area with a microfiber towel. Tar stains can be stubborn, and you’ll discover this using WD 40, but repeated rubbing will remove it.

Keep working at it with the microfiber towel until it comes out. Take the car to a self-serve car-wash afterward. Pay special attention to the area you just cleaned with the WD-40. Clean the area twice to get the remaining residue out. It’s important to maintain your finish to remove all chemicals and substances you have used to tackle this tough problem.

Commercial Tar Remover

If you want to use the fastest and most effective solution to the problem, buy tar remover. Spray it on directly or spray it into a rag and apply it to the tar spots of the car panel. Apply it liberally. Give it a few minutes to soak in, maybe five to ten minutes.

Using your microfiber towel, wipe the tar spots and residue off with a swiping action. If stubborn spots remain, gently work on them until the tar is gone. It’s better to remove tar spots slowly and deliberately than quickly and carelessly because microscopic rocks often get into the tar resin. When you aggressively rub on a tar resin, the tiny rock particles scratch your finish or even the paint. It’s best to wait until the tar is soft or dissolved before you remove it. Do so gently.

After the first application, repeat the process but allow another ten minutes after application before you wipe it off. If a heavy spot of tar is present, spray tar remover directly on the spot and immediately rub gently with a microfiber towel. After you’ve removed all the tar spots and residue, take the car to a self-service car wash and wash the entire car. Pay special attention to the areas you treated and do a thorough washing. In this process, you must wash off the excess chemical remover along with any residual tar resins, and it’s important to get rid of it all.

With a commercial tar remover, always read the manufacturer’s directions and follow them for the best results. Also, read and understand the cautions on the label.


When you want to remove tar resins from your vehicle, it’s a good idea to use cleaning methods that work. Soap and water won’t do the job. Peanut butter and WD40 work because they are lubricating agents. Commercial tar remover dissolves the resin using a chemical process. If you have read this article and would like to comment or have any questions, feel free to do so below.

If you have decided to tackle the task, consider these steps.

  • Choose a method.

  • Collect the tools you need beforehand.

  • Use a patient and methodical approach.

  • Clean up the area or panels of the car you treated at a self-service car wash.

  • With these steps, you should find success removing tar from your vehicle. Good luck.