If you’ve ever been on a road trip, you know all about bug splatter. It covers the front of your car and tapers off towards the back as if your precious machine is being hugged by some sticky alien residue. It can make your headlights blotchy and smears across your windshield as you sweep the wiper blades side to side in an attempt to see clearly. Your regular car wash isn’t going to cut it this time.
Attempting to scrub away dried-up bug residue and tar will likely leave your paint job with scratches or swirls. Jobs like these require quality products that will leave your car’s body smooth and shiny. You need a quality bug and tar remover.
What Are Bug and Tar Removers?
A bug and tar remover is a dedicated substance specifically curated to soften and melt away your sticky nightmare. It works by softening or liquifying hardened insect carcasses and tacky residue. A high-quality bug and tar remover will even leave you with a smoother finish than before, making it harder for future contaminants to adhere.
However, bug and tar removers aren’t limited to just bugs and tar. In fact, they can be used to clean a variety of difficult spots on your vehicle’s exterior. Peeling off a bumper sticker or dealership logo will leave behind glue that a bug and tar remover can dissolve in minutes. If you live near trees that produce sap, a bug and tar remover will smooth it away. Burnt rubber and asphalt can be practically melted away. Once you’ve started using a quality bug and tar remover, you’ll likely find yourself relying on it for many tough jobs and wondering how you ever lived without it.
What Is The Best Bug and Tar Remover For Cars
These are the best bug and tar removers you should use on your vehicles. We tried them all, and thus we’re recommending them in the following order.
1. Nexgen Bug and Tar Remover
Nexgen Bug and Tar Remover is a personal favorite. It’s like giving your automobile a day at the spa. This doesn’t just wipe away the surface but works its way deep into the pores of your paintwork, softening and loosening impurities along the way.
While most products will require a separate wash and service, Nexgen Bug and Tar Remover is so concentrated you can add it in with your regular car washing soap, saving you time and effort. For smaller jobs, it can be diluted and used with a microfiber towel. However you choose to use it, you’ll enjoy watching it work its magic with little effort and no scrubbing needed.
- Super concentrated formula
- Quickly melts away tree sap and hardened bugs
- Couldn’t find any
2. Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover
Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover You’ve probably already heard of Turtle Wax. It’s one of the more well-known brands since their products are relatively cheap and sold in many large brick-and-mortar stores. While this may seem like the easiest solution, nothing is too good to be true and you do tend to get what you pay for.
Turtle Wax Bug & Tar Remover is safe to use on metal and is diluted enough to be safely used on plastic and glass. Given its chemical structure, you’ll likely run through a bottle pretty quickly – using more product to get the results you wanted.
- It’s cheap and easy to find in stores
- You get what you pay for
3. 3D Bug Remover
3D Bug Remover, like its competitors, works to loosen the protein that builds up from bugs and sap. It’s also diluted enough to be safely used on more of your car’s surfaces, like windows and mirrors. 3D Bug Remover is a good choice if you’re looking for something environmentally friendly, as it’s listed as V.O.C. compliant. They also keep costs low by making their products in-house.
- Can be used on almost any surface.
- Its water content weakens the cleaning strength, so you’ll need a bit more elbow grease
4. Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Heavy Duty Car Wash
Chemical Guys Bug & Tar Heavy Duty Car Wash gives the consumer a lot of options. If you travel a lot and run into bugs and tar often, you can buy this stuff by the gallon. Otherwise, you may opt for something that fits in your glove box, like their 4 oz spray bottle.
- Comes in several sizes for consumers to pick from
- Users complain that the bright orange dye stains their clothes, microfiber towels, and even the grass if used and rinsed near the lawn.
5. Adam’s Bug Remover
Adam’s Bug Remover is another option that won’t break your bank. This one is specific to bugs, so if you’re also dealing with sap and tar, you’ll need to buy those items separately. Adam’s Bug Remover is water-based and has a high-sudsing formula.
- Very cheap
- Pleasant grape scent
- Several consumers say that there doesn’t seem to be any difference between this company’s bug remover and their regular car wash soap.
- Bug and Tar formulas don’t work together, so you’ll have to purchase them separately.
6. CarPro Tarx Tar & Adhesive Remover
CarPro Tarx Tar & Adhesive Remover is a fantastic product. However, If you happen to reside in California, Hawaii, or Alaska, go ahead and skip to the next product. FAA Regulations prevent this product from being sold in the state of California, and it can not be shipped to Alaska or Hawaii.
Outside of that, CarPro Tarx Tar & Adhesive Remover is a versatile cleaner. While it’s important to let this product soak, you want to make sure it’s not sitting on your car long enough to dry up. CarPro Tarx Tar & Adhesive Remover is effective in liquifying most sticky substances, like residue left behind by bumper stickers or asphalt.
- Liquifies tars, adhesives from car tape or stickers
- Should not be used on plastic or acrylic paint
- Availability is limited by location
7. GYEON Quartz Q2M Tar Remover
GYEON Quartz Q2M Tar Remover can be used on all exterior surfaces. This is a great choice for breaking down road tar or tire rubber. Most sticky substances will easily dissolve after soaking for 1-2 minutes. GYEON Quartz Q2M Tar Remover is a great go-to for quickly and easily removing almost any type of adhesive. However, this PH-neutral cleanser is not impressive when used against bug grime, so you may want to use it along with a secondary product.
- Quickly dissolves most adhesives
- Not a powerful cleaner against bug residue
How To Use Bug and Tar Removers
For best results, make sure painted surfaces are cool to the touch and are wet.
- Dilute to recommended strength and shake well
- Apply to an inconspicuous area to test
- Apply to the desired area and let sit for 20-30 seconds.
- Wipe away with a clean microfiber cloth.
- Fully flush the area with clean water after application. Continue the process until the area is clean or desired results are achieved.
Do You Need Bug and Tar Removers
Bug and tar removers are commonly overlooked but are a critical part of automotive care. The enzymes produced during an insect’s decomposition process are also effective in breaking down paint. To make matters worse, attempting to scrub dead bugs and tar away with soap and water will leave swirls and scratches that will then harbor more contaminants.
Bugs and tar aren’t specific to road trips. They’ll also build up over time from your day-to-day commute, especially if you live in an area that experiences high levels of humidity. In this instance, bugs and tar may accumulate so gradually that you don’t really notice until it becomes unsightly. This is why it’s best to keep a dedicated bug and tar remover on hand and to use it regularly prior to or during your washes.
How To Prevent Bugs and Tar From Sticking To The Paint
Another thing to consider is maintaining a reasonable speed. While you may feel the urge to speed up to kill a few miles, that increase in speed will also provide an increase in the amount of bugs and other contaminants that stick to your car.
Think of your car as a wall on the receiving end of a paintball gun. The force and speed of the paintball will hit the wall, and almost every bit of that paint will stick. However, if you were to casually toss paint on a wall, that slower-moving paint would disperse, and a portion of it will fall to the ground. When hitting bugs at high speeds, the spot where the bug splatters is right where it will stick and decompose.
While there are plenty of products to aid in cleaning off bug grime, the best offense is a good defense. The first and easiest step is to make sure you wash your car regularly and always immediately after a road trip. The longer you wait to wash your car, the harder it will be to remove dried insects and tar. Simple maintenance like applying a ceramic coating, wax, or sealants will help prevent bugs and tar from sticking to your paint as well.
Bug guts are highly acidic and, if left unchecked, will wreak havoc on your paintwork. Over time you may notice that your paint has started to corrode. The only way to repair this kind of damage is to spend hundreds of dollars on a fresh paint job. Using the best bug and tar removers will ultimately save you significant stress and money.