The way your tires look can change up the whole vibe of your car. Even if your vehicle’s body is spotless, dirty tires can make it appear outdated and cheap, especially when we’re talking about stubborn tar that accumulates on the tire from driving on recently paved roads. The basic process of cleaning wheels and tires doesn’t work here.
In addition to aesthetics, tar will also fill the tire lines up. This attracts a lot of gravel, which reduces car handling and reduces the efficiency of the brakes.
If you want to know how to remove tar from tires, you’ve come to the right place! Today, we’ll provide you with a brief guide that shows you all the steps necessary to fix the problem. Let’s hop right in!
The Short Answer
Luckily, the process of removing tar and gravel from tires is quite easy. All you have to do is use a plastic knife or screwdriver to scrape off the tar and stuck gravel from the tire lines.
After that, use a scrubbing brush and some degreasers to other affected areas to remove all the leftover tar that is still on the tire.
For the most stubborn parts, you can use a tar-removing solution like Prep Solvent or kerosene along with thoroughly rinsing the tire when you’re finished.
A Brief Guide to Remove Tar and Gravel from the Tires
There are plenty of tried solutions out there that were found effective against tar. Depending on the amount of tar stuck to the tires of your wheel, you may only need to do some of these steps.
However, to make sure that there aren’t hidden bits of tar that you might’ve missed, we recommend that you go through the whole process (except for step 5), especially if you use your vehicle consistently and on open roads.
Step 1: Prepare Your Tools and Equipment
Before starting your clean-up project, it’s recommended that you prepare all the tools and equipment needed for the job.
This will help you save the hassle of going back and forth to get your tools. It’ll also speed up the whole process and save you a lot of time and effort.
Here’s a quick list of all the materials you’ll need for the job.
- A mild dishwashing soap or a detergent
- A plastic knife or a screwdriver
- A tar-removing solvent like kerosene or 3M Prep Solvent
- A mild degreaser like WD-40
- A scrubbing brush
- Protective equipment, such as gloves and protective glasses
We don’t recommend using of the substances you apply to clean brake rotors without removing a car wheel since they might damage other plastic parts. These substances are usually for metals parts only, commonly used to get rust off wheel rims, and sometimes for removing black tire marks from concrete.
Step 2: Manually Remove All the Possible Tar and Gravel from Tires
Now that you’ve gathered all the tools needed, it’s time to start removing the tar. This step requires some patience and elbow grease. However, you should remove most of the tar and gravel chunks in this step, especially if the tar is still fresh.
Using a plastic knife, start scraping the large pieces of tar and gravel off the tires and between the tire lines.
Ideally, a plastic knife should work well for the job. However, if the tar is a bit tough, you may use a screwdriver. In that case, be careful not to apply too much pressure on the tire so you don’t puncture the rubbers.
Step 3: Scrub the Rest of the Tar from the Tires
The plastic knife should get rid of most of the tar, especially between the tire lines.
Follow up by applying some detergent, such as mild dishwashing soap, and scrub it using a brush with soft to medium bristles.
The scrubbing motion will get rid of most of the gravel that is stuck to the tire as well as softening the dried-up tar.
Step 4: Use Linseed or Degreasers to Remove More Tar
Next, you’ll need to add some linseed oil to free the tar stuck to the tires.
Pour a reasonable amount of the oil over the tires and let them seep into the crevices of the tire for 20 to 30 minutes.
Repeat the previous two steps to remove the freed tar and clean up the oil.
Step 5: Use Organic Solvents and Tar Removers to Get Rid of Any Stubborn Remains
In some cases, there might be some stubborn tar that is embedded deep within the tires. To remove them, you’ll need to use an extra solvent like 3M Prep Solvent or kerosene.
Keep in mind that these materials are quite flammable, so you’ll need to completely rinse them off once you’re done.
Ideally, you need to go for organic solvents and kerosene as a last resort because the tires may catch on fire if they’re not properly cleaned
If you want another efficient degreaser that is easier to work with, you can use any water dispersing products like WD-40. However, instead of leaving it to dissolve tar-like kerosene, you’ll need to scrub it yourself.
Step 6: Rinse the Tires with Soapy Water
Now that you’ve removed all the tar and gravel stuck to the tires, it’s always more convenient to give them a final cleanup. This is also necessary if you’ve used tar removing solvents or degreasers like WD-40.
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This wraps it up for today’s guide on how to remove tar from tires. As you can see, removing tar and gravel from your tires is extremely essential to preserve the car’s performance as well as maintaining its decent look.
Luckily, such a job is pretty easy to pull off with proper tools and patience. Keep in mind that some of the materials used in this guide are flammable or harsh chemicals, so make sure that they’re completely rinsed off the tires before you’re back on the road.