How do I get the "road fallout" off my car?
April 8, 2009 2:45 PM   Subscribe

How do I get that black, tarry gunk off my vehicle? You know the stuff, splattering off a recently patched roadway and turning to stone on your fender. Should I scrape it off? Or is there some magical goop that will help dissolve it?
posted by jackypaper to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can peel it off when it's hot. If parking in the sun is not an option, a heat gun may help, but be careful not to burn your paint. :)
posted by rokusan at 2:47 PM on April 8, 2009

Might want to check out some of Simple Green's products. I've personally used the Simple Green Pro HD on my car and it's worked wonders. (Purchased at Home Depot.)
posted by pghjezebel at 2:50 PM on April 8, 2009

Kerosene/WD40 should dissolve it fairly quickly/easily.
posted by torquemaniac at 2:53 PM on April 8, 2009

Goo Gone.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:58 PM on April 8, 2009

Simple Green has worked for me as well. Goo Gone is also the magical solution for getting gunk off lots of things, although I'd be reluctant to use it on a car as it can leave a hazy finish.

In either case, test it on an inconspicuous location such as the inside of the door frame if you're concerned about what it might do to the paint.
posted by tomwheeler at 3:03 PM on April 8, 2009

Bug and Tar Remover. Found at any auto parts store or the aisle with the car waxes at your local big-box.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2009

You want a clay bar - which is basically a wad of blu tack (not sure what the brand name is in the US, but the same tacky stuff you use to stick poster up on a wall). A big wad of that and something to lubricate (this is very important) - you can buy branded stuff or you can just use a decent car shampoo in plenty of water and just keep lathering it on. Don't use anything like WD40!

It's easy - but takes a bit of elbow grease - just slap on the washing solution then rub the blu tack (or whatever it's called) across the grit and grime. Needs lots of lubrication - can't have enough. Then once you got the grit grime, dead bugs and tar removed you do the usual wash wax and polish. Ming!
posted by Elmore at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you are not happy with doing it on the cheap you can buy car detailing clay bar kits (well, you can buy them here, I assume they are available in the US). They contain the same things (a neatly molded bar of tacky stuff and something to lubricate). They cost about 4 to 10 times the price for the same thing though and do the same job.
posted by Elmore at 3:19 PM on April 8, 2009

Clay bar (if you've got small spots), Tarminator, Goo Gone, WD-40.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:25 PM on April 8, 2009

n-thing claybar. It's like magic and will remove pretty much anything from your paint.
posted by Tu13es at 3:39 PM on April 8, 2009

Be wary of the bug and tar remover, I've had it damage my paint. To be honest, the best thing that worked for me is Armor-All. Clean it afterwards, and use at your own risk.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 3:56 PM on April 8, 2009

I heard once that gasoline will get it off. Never tried it, though.
posted by amanda at 4:10 PM on April 8, 2009

Yes on gasoline (petrol for ya yobs).
I've used this for removing tar and sap for years on my cars and Ducatis.
Just a bit from the fuel cap should do it (easy from a bike of lawnmower).

Remember that most of these products will also remove the protective wax, so wax over the part you've cleaned right away.
posted by artdrectr at 4:49 PM on April 8, 2009

Mineral spirits, available at any hardware store.

It's what we used at the car wash I worked at, anyway, and it worked very well.
posted by doowod at 4:54 PM on April 8, 2009

WD-40 is the absolute miracle cure for road tar. IT IS FLAMMABLE. So be careful and be sure to go in small sections, rinsing off each section when you finish it.

Claybars are for all the other microscopic crap that gets lodged in your paint.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:33 PM on April 8, 2009

Gasoline will work. But you'll smell like gasoline afterward.
posted by wheat at 6:11 PM on April 8, 2009

When the paving company wants to clean their vehicles and equipment they use a solvent called d-Limonene which they order in 55 gallon drums. It's the working ingredient in a lot of citrus cleaners, without fillers and stabilizers. You can order it from any number of eco-friendly websites in quantities from 1 qt. to 1 gallon for $20-30.
posted by EnsignLunchmeat at 9:21 PM on April 8, 2009

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