How to Remove Tar From Car

All car owners have had the frustrating experience of pouring buckets and hoses full of water and soap onto their cars without being able to remove those tiny little black spots.

Remove tar

While some mistake these spots for animal or insect excreta, they really are tar spots. Tar spots appear due to a number of reasons, including when your car is running over newly laid roads.

Over time, these can mar what is an otherwise perfectly good looking exterior. While you may be fine with letting them stay (or paying good cash to have them professionally removed), why not learn how to remove tar from car using some simple homemade solutions and restore your car to its much-deserved glory?

Method 1: Kerosene

One of the simples methods for removing tar involves using kerosene to wipe off the tar. Note that this method requires you to possess fairly pure kerosene that has not been colored.

This is important because colored kerosene can impart some of the color to the area and this may create a rather unpleasant situation. Alternatively, kerosene that has undesirable additives can create residues.

When wiped off, these can take the clear coat with them, forcing you to invest in a clear coat spray and following the same steps for fixing a scratch.

To Remove Tar

  • Pour out a little clear kerosene into a clear bottle.
  • Clear the affected area/s of grime and dust.
  • Soak a piece of cotton in kerosene and apply it on the tar spot. Ensure that the amount used is small, or you will spend a considerable amount of time cleaning your car.
  • Let the kerosene sit for a few minutes.
  • Pour some more kerosene onto the area.
  • Wipe off with a clear cloth.
  • Due to the properties of kerosene, it is advisable to carry out the above procedure only where adequate shade is available.
Morris RollisonAutomotive Blogger

Note for you: Due to the properties of kerosene, it is advisable to carry out the above procedure only where adequate shade is available.

Method 2 - Diesel & Washing Powder

A second method involves a combination of diesel and washing powder. If your car runs on petrol and you don’t have diesel at hand, petrol can also be used. However, most car specialists prefer petrol due to the slightly different properties exhibited by diesel.

  • to create the mixture
  • to remove tar spots
  • Take a piece of cloth and soak it in this mixture.
  • Leave the area to dry.
  • Wipe off with a clear cloth.
  • Rub off the mixture with water or simple washing powder solution.
Morris RollisonAutomotive Blogger

Note for you: Before going for this process, ensure that the area you live in allows you to purchase and own canned/bottled diesel (ie diesel that is not kept in your vehicle).

If your state mandates that diesel can only be poured directly into the car from a gas station, do not attempt to remove fuel from your vehicle for this method.

Method 3 - Petroleum Distillate Products

If your area’s laws prevent you from purchasing kerosene and/or petrol/diesel or you find it simply unfeasible to go in for the DIY procedures mentioned above, you can purchase any one of the many petroleum distillate products.

These products used to contain mixtures of kerosene but have moved onto more complex organic chemicals that perform the task of removing tar more amicably. This, however, has been attained at the cost of skin and eye friendliness, so make sure you are wearing eye and skin protection when using these.

Some of the most common petroleum distillate products are Stodard Solvent and Stone Terminator. Using these or a similar product, you should:

  • First clear the area with some compound or plain water.
  • Keeping the bottle well away from your body, spray or pour (depending on whether the bottle is a pressurized can or an ordinary one) the solvent onto the area.
  • Wipe off the solvent after 1-2 minutes. Since many of these chemicals evaporate, leaving the sprayed area untouched for a longer period of time may result in formation of unpleasant residues.
  • If the tar spot is still in evidence, reapply the procedure mentioned above. Be careful not to rub too hard though, as this may damage the car coating.

Method 4 - Peanut Butter

In case you’re on the road and don’t have any of the above products at hand, you can even make do with peanut butter. This is because peanut butter contains oils which produce the same effect as petroleum products, though at a much slower rate.

To Remove Tar Using Butter

  • Dab some peanut butter on a napkin or piece of cloth. Make sure the peanut butter applied is smooth and does not contain nuts, etc. as these would only complicate the cleaning procedure.
  • Place this napkin/cloth on the affected area and let it stay for a few minutes.
  • Wipe off with a clean cloth or napkin and wash the area with water.
  • Like other methods, repeat if the tar is still in evidence.
Morris RollisonAutomotive Blogger

Note for you: The peanut butter must be of the “smooth” variant since others will have additives (impurities) and such impurities may cause your vehicle to develop scratches.


Removing tar may appear to be frustrating when you’re using simple soap and water, but petroleum and even peanut butter can help you dispose of the final blemishes to your car exterior.

Of course, be careful to run the type of solvent you intend to use by your car’s manufacturer guide or customer support to ensure that the paint is tolerant to it.

Since car paint is made to withstand a range of abrasives and corrosive substances, chances are this will not be a major issue and you should be able to follow the above steps to get back the showroom appearance in no time.

READ MORE: How to Remove Scratches from Car

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