Tar on your car? How to remove safely

I’ve been using various products to remove road tar from cars over the years, but all are not created equal!  Here in Utah they LOVE to re-tar the roads every summer!  So this past summer I got a chance to do some more “testing” of the various products.  The two most impressive and SAFE products are Tar X and Tarminator.  I mention SAFE because you can use lots of different solvents; such as gasoline, camping fuels, paint thinners, acetone’s…. but many of them don’t have the safe factor built in.  I have used other solvents, but have noticed a hazing of the paint with them, IMO they must have helped contribute to the haze.  While Yes they might work faster………faster doesn’t equal safe.  These products also work very well for Tree sap and adhesive too.

The sooner you can remove the Tar the better, and quicker the clean up will happen.  I’ve had to remove tar that was over a year old, it was solid and was slow to get back into soft mass of tar.  If the tar is old, and you cannot pick at it with your finger nail, you need to allow the product to dwell on the surface for as long as possible.  By nature, these Tar removal products will “evaporate” fairly quick, so I spray them on a rag and hold it against the tar for as long as possible.  On the larger “blobs” I will scrape the surface of the tar with my nail, thus allowing the solvent to penetrate the tar more easily.  If you aren’t getting the tar to soften, try that method.  Using nitrile type gloves will help with the possible irritation of the chemicals with your skin.  My hands get all dried out and rough, and manicures are so expensive these days!  I typically have to use an old terry cloth with the solvents and I will have to throw them out in most cases afterwards.  I always suggest a good APC spray to help remove any residue of the solvents and a quick polish before you apply your LSP of choice.

yes you can still see some water spotting, and it will need some polishing………….so that will come later.

I tested both products and here is what I found:

Tar X

Pros:  Its dispensed by a trigger in a fine mist, very good dwell times, easy to travel with, can be flown on a plane (mobile detailer).
Cons:  More expensive, cannot get locally (mail order).


Pros:  Can be found locally if you’re in a pinch, much more economical.
Cons:  Aerosol style can.

In closing, I don’t think you can go wrong with either product.  I will give an ever so slight edge in performance, solely based on dwell time before drying, to Tar X.