Getting creosote stains off car
September 25, 2010 4:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I get creosote stains off a car?

I recently slickly backed my friends car into a telephone poll and got creosote stains on the bumper. I was kindly informed by a passing gentleman that "that shit don't come off". I've tried the wd-40/rag method but was only partially successful. Anyone know a good way of getting this nasty stuff off? Would buffing it work?
posted by bigspoon to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Autoglym Intensive Tar Remover will do the trick. Their products are a bit more expensive than competitors', but the quality is far superior. The company has recently tarnished their reputation by selling selected products in both Walmart and Canadian Tire. I have no idea where you're located and can't say if that product is available in either of those stores, but it is widely available online.
posted by gman at 4:59 PM on September 25, 2010

Oil might loosen it. That's my go-to for anything really sticky that's not chewing gum.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:00 PM on September 25, 2010

If you have any kerosene, I'd try that.
posted by Rumple at 5:03 PM on September 25, 2010

Goo-gone or petroleum distillates will work ok, as will cleaners for oil-based stain (turpentine or replacements). A citrus-based based cleaner, like Simple Green will work less well, and require more elbow grease. Dry cleaning solvent will work really well, but it's hard to find.

Gas or diesel will do it, but both of those are both acutely poisonous and carcinogenic. I don't recommend either if they can be avoided.
posted by bonehead at 5:07 PM on September 25, 2010

I spent the better part of 2 decades working as used car manager at car dealerships and every detailer I ever knew used regular old cigarette lighter fluid (napthalene). As mentioned above, kerosene also works great but you can't buy it in small containers.
posted by buggzzee23 at 6:36 PM on September 25, 2010

Goo-Gone, lighter fluid or kerosene. Kerosene is available in small quantities as fuel for kerosene/paraffin oil lamps.
posted by Mitheral at 7:02 PM on September 25, 2010

Charcoal starter works just fine for creosote stains, and is easy to vuy in fairly small quantities.
posted by motown missile at 11:50 PM on September 25, 2010

Best answer: Brake Cleaner also works well for taking anything you can think of off a car's finish. Just make sure to spray the cleaner on a rag and then use the rag to rub the creosote off, don't spray the brake cleaner directly on the car. I have been detailing cars for 20+ years and I haven't found any substance that this does not work on. Just be sure to wash the area with soap and water after the creosote is remove, the brake cleaner can dull the clear coat if left on.

Kerosene and lighter fluid work, too, but usually involve a lot of elbow grease with things like creosote, road tar, and other nasty substances.... Brake Cleaner cuts right through nasty substances...... you can get a small can at any auto-parts store for 3-4 bucks.
posted by peewinkle at 8:54 AM on September 26, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, brake cleaner worked perfectly. No scrubbing required, the creosote came off easily. Thanks to everyone who answered.
posted by bigspoon at 5:00 PM on September 26, 2010

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