How To Remove Tar, Bugs & Tree Sap From Your Car

As someone who loves looking at a clean car, as well as driving one, Road Tar & Bugs can be a complete nightmare.

In the spring and summer months, depending on where you live, you may get really nice weather and enjoy your car a lot more.

The long summer drives in the blazing heat may be enjoyable when you’re on the road, but washing your car afterward can be incredibly frustrating.

Removing Tar, Bugs & Tree Sap can be easy, providing you do it quickly and have the right products.

If you don’t act quickly to clean the car, it will become a lot harder to remove the tar and bug splatters.

It’s embarrassing but sometimes I’ve just accepted the fact that I will be driving around in a “clean” but dirty car. This is because I was late to act and it felt near impossible to remove tar and bug splatters using normal washing equipment.

Don’t be like me, learn how to remove tar and bugs from your car quickly and efficiently.

Tools For The Job

Depending on how you decide to tackle the tar, the tools listed below will help you with the job.

Out of the 3 tools I’ve listed above, only the Bug & Tar Remover is absolutely vital.

The best Bug & Tar removers use high active detergents to break down bugs, bird bombs, and road tar.

You can use tar remover as a pre-wash solution before you perform a main wash, or even as a spot cleaner. I personally use Bug & Tar Remover as a spot cleaner, before I even begin to wash my car.

As for the Bug Scrubber, It’s a really useful and smart tool that I like to have in my arsenal.

The honey-comb design traps bugs and tar, removing them from your paint without scratching the surface.

Upon first look, you may think that there’s not a hope in hell of you taking that rock hard sponge to your car, but after 5 minutes it softens up and still removes the tar.

The bug scrubber is a nice backup option or way to double down.

If the bug and tar remover wasn’t working on its own, I’ll often try the combination of these two.

Finally we have micro-abrasive polishing compounds. This is more of a finishing product.

If you’ve removed the bug splatters, tar or tree sap from your car but still see etchings or residue in your paint, you’ll need this product.

Unfortunately, when you leave contaminants on your car for a long time, especially bugs, bird bombs, and tree sap, they’ll begin to become embedded into your paint.

Light polishing compounds will remove some of this paint, taking the bug and tree sap remnants away with it.

how to remove tar from car paint

Car With Road Tar

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

Tree Sap On 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

removing tar spots from alloy wheels

Removing tar spots from your alloy wheels is incredibly easy.

If you’re someone that has access to tools and you want to remove and refit your wheel, it will allow you to perform a much deeper clean. If not, don’t worry, you can still clean the majority of your wheel while it’s on your car.

For this process you’ll need a good wheel cleaner, bug & tar remover, and a couple of detailing brushes.

Once you’ve got those, perform a wash following the steps below:

  1. Apply Wheel Cleaner To The Wheel – Before trying to remove tar spots from alloys, I like to properly wash it using wheel cleaner or fallout remover.

    The wheel cleaner is a very strong product, it’s designed to clean brake dust and iron fillings, it may loosen up the tar too.

    Let it sit for the manufacturers recommended amount of time and then proceed to wash it off with water.

  2. Apply Tar Remover To The Wheel – After rinsing the wheel cleaner off, apply your tar remover of choice to all of the areas covered in tar.

    Let the product dwell for 2-4 minutes before attempting to clean the tar off with your sponge, wash mitt, or wheel brush.

    If the tar isn’t moving, it’s possible that you need to apply more product. You may even need a stronger product, such as a super degreaser.

    Keep repeating step 2 until you’re satisfied with results and then rinse off any remaining residue.

Removing tar from your car is an easy process, however, you’ll also find it very frustrating. It’s no different when you’re trying to clean your alloy wheels.

How To Clean Tar, Bugs & Tree Sap Off Your Car With WD40

Removing Tar, Bugs & Tree Sap from your car using WD40 is relatively similar to the processes mentioned above.

Instead of WD40, you may also opt to use Dawn Dish Soap, Citrol, or another heavy-duty degreaser. All of these solutions are safe to use on paint, as long as you wash them away when you’re finished cleaning.

When using WD40 simply apply it to the area that’s contaminated, wait a little while and then wipe the area to remove the bugs, tar, or tree sap.

Once your car is contamination-free, you could perform a full wash or simply just rinse the areas that you used WD40 on.

Because It’s a heavy degreaser based solution, I personally perform a full wash.
Using snow foam and car shampoo guarantee that the oily residue is 100% gone, whereas rinsing the car with just water may not be that effective.

Making Future Washes Easier

While it’s near impossible to avoid bugs and tar from getting stuck to your car, there are certainly ways to make tackling it easier.

If after every wash you protect your car with a wax or sealant, it should make washing your car next time around a little bit easier, potentially avoiding having to use a product such as a Bug & Tar Remover.

Want to take it a step further? Why not try out Ceramic Coating? It offers more benefits than traditional wax, and lasts for much, much longer.

At the end of the day, there are some downsides to enjoying your car, but at least you now know how to deal with them quickly, safely and efficiently.

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