If you’ve owned a car throughout spring and summer, you’ll know precisely why you need bug & tar remover.
As soon as the sun comes out, so do the bugs.
That’s alright for people in cooler regions such as the UK or Scandinavia, they only get a couple of weeks of sun.
If you live in a place like Florida bug & tar remover may become a key product in your car wash regime.
Bug & Tar Remover will also help you to remove tar, glue & tree sap from your car
My car was covered in tar spots and bug skeletons before I learned about this product. Now they’re all gone!
Buying and using the best bug & tar removers will guarantee you get rid of those pesky bugs and tar from your car.
My favorite is (X) but any of the following 5 will do the job!
Table of Contents
What Does A Bug & Tar Remover Do?
Bug & Tar removers are made of special solvents and cleaning agents.
This is a combination of agents that softens bugs & tar that are dried onto the car.
Once you apply the bug & tar remover onto the bugs or tar, it’ll break down the molecules.
In turn, this softens and unsticks the dried bugs and tar from the car while lubricating the panel.
The extra lubrication helps the dirt slide off the car and helps to prevent you from scratching the car.
Best Bug & Tar Remover For Car Paint
Based on where you live, there may be a limited number of bug & tar removers available.
CarPro Tar X is considered to be one of the best and most popular tar removers in both the UK & US. It’s pretty expensive but it offers quick & easy results.
Whereas “Meguiars Bug & Tar Remover” is one of the cheapest on the market. You’ll still achieve good results, but you may need to use more product & elbow grease to remove stubborn bugs.
I’ve compiled a list of the 5 best bug and tar removers below. They all have strengths & weaknesses and they all come in at different price points.
Use the list below to learn more about each product and make an educated buying decision.
TarX Tar & Adhesive Remover
Cleaning Power: ★★★★★
Check Price On Amazon: 500ml
CarPro’s TarX Comes in a 500ml bottle or a 1 Litre Bottle. It’s the strongest Bug & Tar removing solution to date, but it is expensive.
The CarPro branding is very simple and clean but your focus should be on the product.
TarX comes in a very high-quality bottle. I tend to keep the bottles and re-use them for other products after I’ve finished with the TarX solution.
The solution itself is a professional-grade formula that melts any bugs, tar or tree sap from the front of your car in minutes.
All that you need to do is apply TarX to the area with bugs and tar, let it dwell for 2-8 minutes, then wipe and wash the dirt away.
Despite its immense cleaning power, TarX will not harm your car in any shape or form. It’s made with non-hazardous chemicals and is designed to protect and prevent paint failures.
The advanced formula is also Last Stage Protection safe. CarPro claims it will help to protect and prolong any wax, sealants, or ceramic coatings you have on your car.
I must say, there’s a reason why this comes highly recommended by every professional and enthusiast.
If you can get over the price point, it’s definitely worth trying out.
Buy TarX from Amazon.com
Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Remover
Cleaning Power: ★★★★☆
Check Price On Amazon: 16fl
The Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Remover comes in 4 different quantities. You can buy pretty much any size you want, whether it’s for a small gift or running your own detailing business.
If you’re not already aware, Chemical Guys are not a brand that likes to follow tradition. Their branding is in your face and their products are often different from the competition.
What’s different about this bug & tar remover? It’s actually a concentrated car wash shampoo and is recommended to be used as a pre-wash solution.
Depending on where you’re coming from, this could be positive or negative.
You can add it to your wash regime as a pre-wash stage OR dilute it at a 6:1 ratio into a spray bottle and make it a spot cleaner. The added flexibility is certainly a nice bonus.
Personally, I’d use it as my main bug-remover for maintenance washes while using TarX as a stronger spot cleaner for stubborn tar.
It’s recommended that you use a cap-full of product to every gallon of water, this is enough to clean most bugs and tar from your car.
However, If you’ve left the contaminants on your car for a long time, you may find that you need to use more product.
The Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Remover is completely safe, preventing long term paint damage and maintaining any last stage protection that you may have on the car.
Overall, it’s certainly a good product, as you’d expect from one of the leading detailing brands.
If you like to be more involved and have control over your product quantities, I’d definitely recommend you try out this product.
Buy Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Remover from Amazon.com
Meguiars Bug & Tar Remover
Cleaning Power: ★★★★☆
Check Price On Amazon: 15fl oz
Meguiars is one of the greatest detailing companies of all time. Their products are available to buy in every auto store and are super reasonably priced.
The Meguiars bug & tar remover is no different.
For a little over 5 bucks, you’ll receive a strong and thick foam that clings to your car and destroys the bugs.
After applying the foam to your car with thick, even layers, all you need to do is wait 5 minutes while it works its magic.
Once the 5 minutes are over simply wash it off with a shampoo such as Meguiars XXX and watch the bugs & tar slide off with it.
As with any bug & tar remover, the longer the bugs have been on the car, the more attempts and passes it will take.
Buying a product from a reputable brand such as Meguiars at the price that it is, is almost unbelievable.
It’s completely LSP safe and as long as you dry the area after washing is completely water-spot free.
The main downside is that foam doesn’t last as long as concentrated products. For every bottle of TarX or Chemical guys, you’ll probably have to buy 2 of these.
Considering the price though, that’s understandable.
Armor All Extreme Bug & Tar Remover
Cleaning Power: ★★★☆☆
Check Price On Amazon: 16fl
If you’ve read any of my other articles, I’m a big fan of ArmorAll. It’s not because they offer the best product or the best branding. It’s because of their price.
ArmorAll is the cheapest Bug & Tar Remover on this list by far. Coming in at least 40% cheaper than every other product listed.
Despite its cheap price, ArmorAll Extreme Bug & Tar Remover is able to remove most bugs and tar from your car, as long as you clean them off within a reasonable time frame.
If you’ve left the bugs to sit over time and they’re now cemented into your bumper, a solution such as TarX will be better.
ArmorAll is safe to use on your car paint, it’s completely LSP safe and will leave behind a streak-free finish on car glass.
As long as you have realistic expectations, for the price, you can’t really go wrong.
Buy ArmorAll Extreme Bug & Tar Remover From Amazon.com
Griot’s Garage Bug & Smudge
Cleaning Power: ★★★★☆
Check Price On Amazon: 22fl oz
Griots Garage Is another well-known brand among detailers.
It’s a brand that I enjoy using myself. The Griots Garage branding is minimalistic, they use high-quality bottles, and the solution always performs as you’d expect.
Bug & Smudge is available in both a 22fl oz bottle and a 1-gallon refill container.
It’s still cheaper than TarX but because you’re buying 22fl oz of product, the initial cost is slightly higher than the rest. If you work on a price per ounce basis, it turns out to be rather competitively priced.
When using Bug & Smudge remover on fresh bugs and road tar, you’ll have absolutely no problem. Simply apply the product to the dirty area, wait 30 seconds, and then wipe it away before rinsing.
Just like any other product, after two or three weeks, you may have to use more product than you’d like. That’s the time period where bugs, tar and tree sap really begin to cling to your car.
Griot Garage has listed this product as safe to use on every surface, which I believe to be the case, as long as you wash it away within the recommended time.
It’s also LSP Safe.
That being said, there are a handful of reviews that suggest that they’ve had bad experiences, especially on plastic trim.
I’m a big fan of Griots and I believe their bug and smudge remover is up there with the best. It has 99+ 5* reviews on Amazon and is recommended by many detailers on the internet.
Buy Griots Garage Bug & Smudge Remover from Amazon.com
3D Auto Detailing Bug Remover
Cleaning Power: ★★★☆☆
Check Price On Amazon: 16fl oz
3D Bug Remover is an enzyme-based cleaner that loosens bugs and road tar from your car.
You can buy the solution in a 16fl oz bottle or a 1-gallon container.
As a weekend warrior you’ll probably never need 1 gallon of highly-concentrated bug remover, but it works out at much better value.
To use this product, all that you need to do is spray it on the contaminated area and let it dwell for 2-5 minutes.
After letting it dwell simply wipe it from the car and rinse the area, drying it with a microfiber towel.
As a bug remover this product works very well. Yet, when it comes to tar, especially tar that’s been left for a while, it leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s actually not specified anywhere that it’s designed to remove tar, whereas the other products on this list are.
Since you’ll be spending good money on this product, it’s perfectly understandable that you may opt for a bug & tar remover instead.
Though I must say, 3D Bug Remover did allow me to remove some bugs that I thought were never coming off.
Buy 3D Bug Remover From Amazon.com
Best Bug & Tar Remover For Cars In The UK
Depending on where you are in the world, you will have access to different products. The UK has a lot of different brands that aren’t available elsewhere. Pro-Kleen, AutoGlym, and Autobrite are just a couple
Gtechniq W7 Tar and Glue Remover for Cars
Gtechniq is a quality brand that I’ve been using for a while. It’s got a huge following online and comes highly recommended by detailing enthusiasts.
They’re more known for their ceramic coating, but they do offer some great wash products as well. Such as Ceramic GWash & their W7 Tar & Glue Remover.
Gtechniqs Tar & Glue remover is a solvent-based product that delivers full strength while protecting any coatings that are on the car.
They guarantee that the use of this product will completely remove any tar spots from your car while leaving your ceramic coating working 100%.
All you need to do is spray the product onto the car and let it dwell for 1-2 minutes. After that, rinse it off and see the tar disappear.
Unfortunately, the Bug remover is a completely different product. You’ll need to buy that separately. They are pretty reasonably priced though, so won’t set you back too much.
Why Not Try A Bug Scrubber?
If you’re already using some of these products without the results you hoped for. The next step is to combine one of the best bug & tar removers with a bug-scrubbing sponge.
Mckee’s 37 Road Kill Bug Scrubber is a sponge specifically designed to remove bugs and tar.
The honeycomb design of this sponge will trap any bugs or tar on your paint and remove them easily.
While the sponge looks harsh, it is 100% scratch free.
You do need to soak it in warm water for 5 minutes to soften it up. If you don’t, that’s when the scratches happen.
As long as you combine it with a bug remover from this list and soak the sponge properly, I guarantee you’ll remove the bugs and keep your car scratch free.
How to remove tar from car paint
If you don’t already know, those stubborn little black dots on the front of your car is what’s most commonly referred to as road tar.
The most common places for road tar to accumulate are on the front of your car, fenders, wheel arches, rocker panels, and sometimes even your windshield.
Removing tar from your car paint can be annoying, and when done wrong can damage your paintwork.
Follow these 3 simple steps to remove tar from your car safely and efficiently:
- Saturate The Tar In Product – Grab your favorite Bug & Tar remover and saturate areas that are covered in tar.
Saturating the tar in product and leaving it for 1 or 2 minutes will allow the product to work its magic. This will loosen up the tar and lubricate the panel, making it much easier and safer to remove.
- Wipe away the tar – When you feel as though the tar is loose enough, grab a microfiber wash mitt and wipe the area.
If the tar doesn’t budge, it means that you need to either A.) Apply more product or B.) Leave the product a little longer.
Be careful when wiping away tar. If you drag it across the paintwork of your car it will cause scratches.
To avoid creating scratches, make sure that your wash mitt is clean after every wipe and make sure any loose tar is removed from the car.
- Wash away any residue – After removing all of the tar from your vehicle make sure to remove any residue from the bug & tar remover left behind.
Pro Tip: If you perform tar removal during the pre-wash stage, you’ll be able to rinse and wash away product residue without any extra effort.
Sometimes, if the tar has been left on your car for weeks on end, you may require a stronger product to remove it.
Using Degreaser will guarantee that you are able to remove tar from your car paint, but it also means that you will have to re-apply any last stage protection.
How to Remove bugs From The Front Of Your car
If like me, you’re someone that loves to take your car on scenic back-roads during the spring and summer, you’ll be used to seeing your car caked in bugs.
Similar to road tar, you’re working against the clock. Bug juices can dry into your cars paint very quickly, and may even leave behind etching or impossible blood marks.
Providing you act quickly, washing your car soon after it’s covered in bugs, you’ll probably not even find them to be an issue.
If you leave it too long you may have to bring out the polish.
Here are the best steps to clean bugs from the front of your car:
- Act Quickly – If you act quickly, washing your car one or two days after the bugs have landed on your car, they’ll come off in a regular maintenance wash.
- Use Bug & Tar Remover – Perhaps you went for a Sunday drive and thought that you’d leave the car washing until next weekend.
Because you’ve left it a week or two, the bugs are now baked on and require Bug & Tar Remover to completely remove them.
No worries, just apply Bug & Tar Remover to the areas that have bug splatter and wipe the remnants away.
As always, once you’ve finished, make sure that there is no leftover product on the paintwork of the car.
- Polish The Area – After cleaning the bugs from your car, you may still see small remnants of bug juice or etching in your clear coat.
The only way to remove this is to use a micro-abrasive polishing compound that will simply rub the remaining contaminants away.
How to remove baked-on tree sap from car
Preventing tree sap from falling on your car is relatively easy. All you need to do is avoid parking near or under trees that are known to produce sap.
If you’re unlucky, it could fall on your car while driving, however at the speed you will be traveling its relatively unlikely.
You should try to avoid tree sap at all times, however, if it’s too late there are things that you can do to remove it from your car.
Follow the steps below to remove baked-on tree sap from your car:
- Wash Your Vehicle – Sometimes you may mistake other natural liquids and juices as tree sap.
A lot of the time, simply washing your car will be enough to remove the contaminants from your vehicle. Especially if you act quickly.
- Apply Bug & Tar Remover- If during or after washing your car, the tree-sap is still there, don’t be afraid to apply Bug & Tar remover or a diluted degreaser solution to the area.
- Rub the area until the sap is gone – Once you’ve applied the product, make sure to rub the area until you can no longer see any sap left of the car.
Make sure to clean the area in uniform swipes. Don’t go round and round with your sponge, that’s how swirl marks are created!
- Apply Polish to remove any etchings – After you have cleaned your car, tree sap remnants or outlines may be obvious in your clear coat.
If this is the case, you will need to use a fine polish to remove the etching and make your car look brand new again.
Bug & Tar Remover FAQs
Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about Bug & Tar remover products. If you can’t find the answer on the label or technical data sheet of your product, you can find it below.
What Is Road Tar?
Tar is a dark brown or black liquid that can be produced from coal, wood, petroleum, or peat.
If a road has recently been laid or repaired, there’s a chance that the tar is still somewhat fresh.
When the tar is still fresh and you drive through it, it will be flung from your wheel onto the lower door and fender of your car.
Even if you try your best to avoid fresh tar, there’s a good chance that other cars will also cover your car in it.
You’ll know it’s road tar when it’s black or brown and incredibly hard to remove. When it’s warm, tar is easy to remover, but as soon as it hits cold temperatures, it will dry rock hard.
What to Use To Remove Tar From Car Paint
While you’ve just spent a couple of minutes reading about the best tar and bug removers that money can buy, there are other products that you can use.
Providing the tar is still fresh, a lot of the time you’ll be able to clean it off using warm water and a car soap of your choice.
In some cases you may need a heavy degreaser. I’ve done that to my own car recently, It was covered in bugs and tar from enjoying too many drives on the sunny Scottish back roads.
You can even use WD40 if you have that around the house.
Whatever you use, make sure it’s safe on car paint before you take it to your car, bugs look better than damaged paint…
Can Tar Remover Damage Paint?
When used correctly, there is absolutely no chance that tar remover products will damage your paintwork.
Yes, the formulas are very strong and carry immense cleaning power, but they’re mostly PH Neutral and are safe to use on any surface.
Does Bug and Tar Remover Remove Wax?
The majority of Bug & Tar Remover products will not strip wax from your vehicle, unless you use them at high dilution ratios.
The products listed above are Last Stage Protection safe and perfectly fine to use. If you’re worried about a product removing wax, check the packaging to see if it’s PH Neutral or LSP safe before using it.