Although there’s never a terrible time to take a road trip, we can think of at least one family member who might not be too enthusiastic about your cross-country journey: your car.
In addition to the normal wear and tear your car experiences from hundreds of miles of interstate driving—which is usually nothing an oil change and tire rotation can’t fix—bugs, tar, and other kinds of road debris may pummel your car and quickly undo all your finest detailing efforts.
And while most dirt and grime may be removed with a quick wash, tar and bugs, in particular, have a tendency to remain. Literally.
The good news is you can actually utilize one or more specifically formulated bug and tar removers to eliminate all that gooey, sticky stuff from your vehicle.
Bug and tar removers employ a sophisticated combination of chemicals to dissolve the bonds holding those sticky substances to the body of your car, making it possible to wipe them away without needing to put in a lot of extra effort.
They are safe to use on paint, glass, plastic, and bare metal.
We consider it a triumph whenever a car detailing product offers us a quick route to a spotless whip. In light of this, let’s take a closer look at the top 5 best bug and tar removers available today. Check out our list below.
#1 Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug & Tar Remover
Meguiar’s is among the most well-known and dependable brands in the car detailing industry, and its Heavy Duty Bug & Tar Remover lives up to that reputation offered in 15 oz. This bug and tar remover, which is available in a spray can, gives a professional-strength concentration while remaining completely safe for clear coat, paint, and various exterior surfaces.
You can apply it either before your next car wash or between washes as necessary because it coats the spray area with a thick, high-cling layer of foam that quickly sets to work, rehydrating dead bugs and softening tar for easier removal. Simply apply a little layer of spray, let it sit for about five minutes, and then wash or wipe it away.
- Softens tar deposits and dead bugs
- Xtreme Cling foam lengthens the active foam time
#2 Turtle Wax Renew RX Bug & Tar Remover
Brand: Turtle Wax
Turtle Wax, a well-known brand with a solid reputation in the car detailing industry, provides this incredibly powerful spray-and-wipe bug removal. It is offered in a 16-ounce spray bottle with a powerful mixture of petroleum distillates that breaks down and softens other sticky surface pollutants, such as tree sap, tar, and stuck-on bugs, allowing for simpler and easier removal.
Turtle Wax Renew RX Bug & Tar Remover, which is designed specifically for spray-and-wipe application, doesn’t offer the same showy foaming action as Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug & Tar Remover, but it’s no less effective and safe for use on metal, plastic, and glass.
- Convenient spray-and-wipe formulation
- Utilizes petroleum distillates to break down and soften tacky deposits
#3 CarPro TarX Tar & Adhesive Remover
Citric acid, which is a weak organic acid that is found in citrus fruits like oranges, has long been praised for its cleaning abilities. As it turns out, you can get comparable effects with a concentrated citric acid solution, which is precisely what CarPro has produced with their TarX Tar & Adhesive Remover. However, some companies use petroleum distillates and other advanced chemical concoctions in their insect and tar removers.
The final product is a highly efficient and versatile mixture that works well as a general-purpose degreaser and is also more than capable of removing tar and asphalt, bugs, tire marks, brake dust, adhesives, and traffic film. But what’s the coolest aspect of it? The “glow color tracer,” a special feature of the product that generates a neon green glow wherever it has been sprayed, makes cleanup much simpler.
- Utilizes the power of concentrated citric acid to break through deposits
- Glow color tracer features a neon green glow in its path
#4 3D Bug Remover
This product quickly removes bugs, insects, and tree sap from plastic, metal rubber, chrome, windows, aluminum, mirrors, and other surfaces using all-purpose interior & exterior cleaner. It features a simple spray and rinse application that requires no scrubbing.
This is ideal for use in cars, RVs, boats, motorcycles, and semi-trucks. You can also utilize it at home or the office. It enables easy removal of protein buildup and surface cleaning by loosening it.
#5 Chemical Guys Bug and Tar Remover
Brand: Chemical Guys
A powerful cleaner called Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Remover safely removes tar and bugs from any car. The worst things for vehicle paint are bug guts. Insects that fly around have corrosive compounds in them that, if untreated, will severely damage the paint.
To prevent long-term harm to the surface, the powerful Bug & Tar Wash formula dissolves even the most tenacious dried bug and tar residue. The unique mixture is secure for use on bumpers, headlights, windshields, chrome, plastics, painted surfaces, grilles, and more.
Just add 1–3 oz. to the regular soap in the bucket used for car washing to get rid of tar and crusted bugs. When treating a specific area, dilute Bug & Tar Remover 6:1 in a spray bottle, spray the area, and then use a premium microfiber towel to wipe away any pesky bugs gently.
The product Bug & Tar Remover safely removes heavy bugs without harming paintwork and is suitable for clear coat and single-stage paint treatments. The adaptable mixture disintegrates asphalt, dried insects, dried bugs, road film, grease, and tar.
By reducing the amount of scrubbing required to remove bugs and filth, Bug & Tar Remover decreases the likelihood that swirl marks and scratches will be added while washing.
Is Tar and Bug Remover Necessary?
There are various items available for car detailing, including shampoos, soaps, degreasers, polishes, waxes, and more. You likely already have a variety of car care solutions at your disposal, many of which make the claim that they will eat up road debris and leave your car sparkling clean. As a result, one query we frequently receive is if bug and tar remover is actually required. Simple answer: absolutely.
While the majority of contaminants may be easily removed with your typical auto shampoo or soap, bugs, tar, tree sap, asphalt, and other sticky substances are totally different animals. Have you ever tried completely removing sticker adhesive only to discover that the manufacturer utilized the world’s most irksomely tacky, tenacious glue? That is somewhat how it is.
Ordinary soaps and shampoos won’t be much use in this situation; while they may get rid of the majority of the debris, no regardless of how many times you wash, the sticky residue will always remain. In contrast to those solutions, which operate by removing oils, the key to battling bugs, tar, and other sticky pollutants is to rehydrate and soften until they are prepared to come off the paint.
Without strong chemistry on your side, you’re up against it here, and the only other option is a ton of elbow grease, which is not only a pain in the neck but also increases the likelihood of scratching your car’s fine, shiny finish.
Can Bug and Tar Remover Ruin My Clear Coat or Paint?
If you’re concerned that using too much bug and tar remover, as well as failing to remove all traces completely, may damage the paint on your car, don’t be; these products are designed to be safe to be used on paint, clear coat, glass, and typically bare metal and plastic as well.
True, each bug and tar remover on this list has a completely distinct chemical makeup. No two are exactly comparable; some handle difficult, sticky paint impurities with petroleum distillates, while others turn to an acid like citrus. They have one thing in common though.
They were created specifically to get rid of bugs, tar, and other sticky materials. Citrus is a weak acid, so while it’s possible that prolonged contact with it could cause visible damage to your clear coat, this would probably take a very high concentration and weeks or even months of exposure – not just a few seconds. Contrary to some persistent myths, petroleum distillates provide almost no risk to paints or clear coatings.
Do you know what ruins the finish of your car? Tar and tree sap are clear examples of contaminants. They progressively etch their way into the finish over time, leaving behind portions that are dull or discolored in their wake.
The likelihood that they’ll remain on the body of your vehicle for a long time is further increased by the fact that they’re so tacky unless they’re promptly removed with the aid of a reliable bug and tar remover.