How to Get Tar & Oil Off Your Car

by John Smith
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Tar and oil can accumulate on your car just from normal driving. In addition to taking away from the look of your car, tar and oil will also damage the paint on your vehicle, causing expensive repairs. Tar and oil can usually be removed with items in your house. If they don't work, you can remove the tar with stronger tar removers. Always remove tar and oil from your car as quickly as possible.

Step 1

Scrub the areas of your car that have tar and oil with dish soap and water. Scrub carefully to avoid damaging the paint on your car. Rinse off the area with clean water.

Step 2

Apply some regular household items to the tar. These items include vegetable oil, creamy peanut butter, bath oil, and denatured alcohol.

Step 3

Allow the tar to sit for 24 hours. Wipe off the tar and oil with a soft rag.

Step 4

Apply a stronger tar-removing agent such as water-displacement spray, mineral spirits or kerosene if the tar and oil remain.

Let the water-displacement spray, kerosene or mineral spirits seep into the tar for five minutes. Wipe off the tar with a soft rag.


  • There are commercial tar and bug removing products that may also work.


  • Water-displacement spray or kerosene will most likely remove the wax from your car. Be prepared to apply a coat of wax to the parts of your car where you removed the tar and oil. Do not smoke around kerosene, which is flammable.

Items you will need

  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Vegetable oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Bath oil
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Water-displacement spray
  • Kerosene
  • Mineral spirits

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