Skip to content
  • +44 (0) 1372 377400
  • Made in the UK
Free delivery for orders over £150.00

How to Remove Tar or Glue from a Car

11 Jun 2024
How to Remove Tar or Glue from a Car

Many things can attack your car’s paintwork and degrade its appearance. Some of the most unpleasant are those of the sticky sort.

Most of the roads we drive on are a surface of aggregate (small stones) bonded together by sticky bitumen (tar). In particularly hot weather or when the surface has been recently laid or repaired, traffic or your wheels will flick up little spots of tar, which will land on your car’s bodywork and then stick and harden.

The same can happen when you encounter potholes – either chipping away little chunks of bitumen as you go over them or from the soft surface of a newly filled pothole.

Tar isn’t the only sticky stuff that can end up on your car. If you put stickers, decals, or graphics on the bodywork, they can leave glue behind when removed. Glue-like deposits can also come from nature in the form of tree sap – park your car under the wrong sort of tree at the wrong time of year, and you’ll come back to find it covered in little drops of sticky sap.

As well as looking unsightly in themselves, these deposits attract and retain dirt, dust, grime, insects and more. If not dealt with, they will harden and stain, and the chemicals in them can sometimes damage the paintwork itself.

They present a challenge because, thanks to their adhesive and oily nature, they are usually resistant to ordinary car cleaning products such as shampoos. They cannot simply be wiped or scrubbed away without almost certain damage to the paintwork.

Fortunately, there are specialist products available to remove tar or glue from a car and using them correctly is not difficult.

Car Exterior Finishing

Step 1: Wash the Car

Before starting work on the sticky spot itself, give the car an overall wash with a good car shampoo. This will remove any loose dirt and grime on the bodywork so you can see the trouble spot clearly and don’t have to worry about causing scratches and swirls as you go.

Step 2: Apply the Tar and Glue Remover

Most tar or glue remover products aimed at private owners and DIY use come as an aerosol spray, like Frogchem’s Coveva Tar and Glue Remover. Similar products aimed at commercial and industrial users are liquids that are usually applied using a spray bottle but can also be applied to smaller areas with a soft, clean cloth.

Make sure you apply a small amount of your chosen product to a small, inconspicuous part of the paintwork as a test to ensure it won’t damage the paint or surface.

Once the product has been applied to the tar or glue spot, let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve and break up the deposit. Follow the product instructions.

For glue (or similar deposits like sap), you may be able to lift them away by applying a solvent such as an isopropyl alcohol spray to the spot and then gently rubbing until the glue starts to break up and lift away.

Step 3: Wipe Clean

After leaving the product to sit for the necessary time, wipe off the softened tar with a clean microfibre cloth.

Be careful not to apply too much force – you’re just wiping away the loose stuff, not scrubbing. Too much pressure or too vigorous rubbing can damage the paintwork. If some deposit remains, make a second application of the remover and let it sit before wiping again.

Step 4: A Deeper Clean

Heavy tar or glue deposits can leave residue in the paint or have dust and dirt stick to them under the surface.

If repeated applications of the tar and glue remover won’t lift this residue, a clay bar should be able to polish it out. Use the bar with clean water mixed with shampoo and gently rub the affected area until it’s gone.

Step 5: Rinse and Wash

Once the unwanted deposit has been fully removed, rinse down the area with clean water and shampoo to remove any loose residue and traces of the remover itself.

Dry the area with a shammy leather and make sure there are no water droplets or streaks left.

Step 6: Polish and Wax

The tar and glue remover product will also lift off any wax coating in the area you’ve just worked on, and the deposit itself and the cleaning process may well have dulled the paintwork underneath.

Apply a good-quality polish with a clean cloth to restore the paint’s shine, especially under the tar or glue spot.

Then, finish off the job with a fresh coating of wax to protect and deepen the shine. This will also provide the first barrier of protection against any future problems with tar or glue.

Top Tips

  • Don’t do this job in direct sunlight – the car’s panels will be too hot, and the sun will dry out the Tar and Glue Remover before it can work effectively.
  • Never use abrasive pads or tools. They will scratch or remove the paint and aren’t even that effective at getting rid of tar and glue deposits.

The Verdict? 

Tar, glue and sap spots can not only ruin the appearance of your car but permanently damage the paintwork. Fortunately, Frogchem can offer products for both the professional and the DIY car cleaner that can easily remove the deposits, plus others to restore the paintwork to its proper state. Follow the simple steps above with the right products, and you won’t have any problems removing tar and glue spots from your car.

Car Exterior Finishing

Prev Post
Next Post

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Choose Options

Edit Option
Back In Stock Notification
this is just a warning
Login Close
Shopping Cart
0 items