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It’s never a bad time for a road trip, but we can think of at least one member of your family who might be less than thrilled about your cross-country excursion: your car.

Beyond the usual wear and tear your vehicle incurs over hundreds of miles of interstate driving – typically nothing that an oil change and tire rotation can’t rectify – there’s also the matter of bugs, tar, and other miscellaneous road debris pelting your car and making quick work of all your best detailing efforts. And while most grit and grime can be cast off with a simple wash, bugs and tar especially tend to stick around. Literally.

The good news is you can remove all that gummy, sticky stuff from your car using one or more specially-formulated bug and tar removers. Safe for use on paint, plastic, glass, and even bare metal, bug and tar removers use a clever concoction of chemicals to break the bonds between those gooey substances and your car’s body, allowing them to be wiped away without requiring major elbow grease.

Any time a car detailing product gives us a shortcut to a squeaky-clean whip, that’s a win in our book. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at best bug and tar removers available on eBay, with an emphasis on ease of use, overall performance, and bang-for-your-buck value.

Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug & Tar Remover

Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug & Tar Remover

As one of the most well-known and trusted brands in the car detailing game, Meguiar’s stands for quality – and that’s exactly what you get with the brand’s Heavy Duty Bug & Tar Remover. Available in a 15 oz. spray can, this bug and tar remover offers a professional-strength concentration that’s still perfectly safe on paint, clear coat, and all exterior surfaces.

It coats the spray area with a thick, high-cling layer of foam and gets to work right away rehydrating dead bugs and softening tar for easier removal, so you can use it either before your next car wash, or in-between washes as needed. Just spray on an even layer, let sit for about 5 minutes, and wipe or wash it away. Yup, it’s just that simple.

Product features:

  • Rehydrates and softens dead bugs and tar deposits
  • Xtreme Cling foam extends the active foam time

Turtle Wax Renew RX Bug & Tar Remover

Turtle Wax Renew RX Bug & Tar Remover

Another respected household name in car detailing products, Turtle Wax offers this supremely effective spray-and-wipe bug remover. Available in a 16 oz. spray bottle, it features a potent concoction of petroleum distillates that soften and break down stuck-on bugs, tar, tree sap, and other sticky surface contaminants for easy removal.

Formulated specially for spray-and-wipe use, Turtle Wax Renew RX Bug & Tar Remover doesn’t have the same showy foaming action as Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Bug & Tar Remover, but it’s no less effective, whether used for a quick touchup or as part of your regular car care routine, and it’s safe on metal, glass, and plastic as well.

Product features:

  • Convenient spray-and-wipe formulation
  • Uses petroleum distillates to soften and break down tacky deposits

CarPro TarX Tar & Adhesive Remover

CarPro TarX Tar & Adhesive Remover

The cleaning power of citric acid – the weak organic acid that occurs naturally in citrus fruit such as oranges – has long been touted. And as it turns out, while some companies resort to petroleum distillates and other sophisticated chemical concoctions in their bug and tar removers, you can achieve similar results with a concentrated citric acid solution, which is exactly what CarPro has done with their TarX Tar & Adhesive Remover.

The end result is a super effective and versatile formula, equally useful as a general purpose degreaser, while also being more than up to the task of removing tar and asphalt, insect remains, tire marks, adhesives, brake dust, and traffic film. But the coolest thing about it? That would have to be its unique “glow color tracer,” which emits a neon green glow wherever the product has been sprayed, making for easier cleanup.

Product features:

  • Uses the power of concentrated citric acid to chew through deposits
  • Glow color tracer leaves a neon green glow in its path

RCP America Prime Time All-Purpose Concentrated Cleaner

RCP America Prime Time All-Purpose Concentrated Cleaner

Are you ready for prime time? This stuff is. RCP America’s Prime Time All-Purpose Concentrated Cleaner is a non-caustic, biodegradable all-purpose cleaner that’s capable of tackling some of the toughest cleaning challenges, and that includes tar, rubber, and bug matter.

Its biodegradable nature means it breaks down relatively quickly after use into nontoxic compounds, which is great news if you fancy yourself a friend of the environment. Moreover, in addition to being a powerful and effective bug and tar remover, Prime Time can also be used on more ordinary everyday marks and stains; it’s even safe for use on interior surfaces and fabrics, making it an excellent all-rounder.

Product features:

  • Excellent, versatile cleaner/degreaser safe on exterior and interior surfaces
  • Biodegradable and non-caustic

Motorcraft Bug and Tar Remover

Motorcraft Bug and Tar Remover

As Ford Motor Company’s wholly-owned parts brand, Motorcraft is privy to some world-class engineering and R&D resources. Given that, it’s no surprise that Motorcraft Bug and Tar Remover is among the best bug and tar removal products on the market.

Coming in 16 oz. bottle, it’s a pro at cutting tar, asphalt, rustproofing, road oils, and gummy materials, not to mention insect material, with no need for excessive scrubbing. Just apply it to a clean cloth, and wipe the affected area multiple times until clean. Less scrubbing, of course, means less risk of scratching the clear coat. Motorcraft Bug and Tar Remover is a key part of a broader body finish maintenance routine that includes washing and waxing, and this is one product where we recommend at least a full wash after use.

Product features:

  • Petroleum distillates soften and break down deposits
  • Convenient wipe-on formulation takes minimal time and effort

Do I Really Need Bug and Tar Remover?

There are literally countless car detailing products on the market, from degreasers to soaps, to shampoos, polishes, waxes, and more. You probably already have a number of different car care products at your disposal, all of which promise to devour road contaminants and get your car looking squeaky clean. Consequently, one question we’re often asked is whether bug and tar remover is really necessary.

In a word: yes.

While your average car soap or shampoo may work perfectly well on most contaminants, bugs, tar, asphalt, tree sap, and other sticky things are an entirely different beast. Have you ever tried to remove every trace of sticker adhesive from something you just bought, only to find that the manufacturer used the world’s most annoyingly tacky, stubborn glue? It’s sort of like that.

Bugs on bumper

Ordinary soaps and shampoos will be of limited use in this context; they may remove a majority of the material, but no matter how many times you wash, some sticky residue will linger behind. Where those products work by stripping away oils, the trick to fighting bugs, tar, and other tacky contaminants is to rehydrate and soften them until they’re ready to release from the paint. Without good chemistry on your side, you’re fighting an uphill battle here, and the only other remedy is tons and tons of elbow grease – something that’s not only a pain in the neck, but also brings with it the risk of scuffing up your car’s nice shiny finish.

Will Bug and Tar Remover Damage My Paint or Clear Coat?

If you’re worried about damaging your car’s paint by using too much bug and tar remover or failing to remove every last trace, don’t be; bug and tar removers are specifically formulated to be safe for use on paint, clear coat, and glass, and usually, bare metal and plastic, as well.

It’s true that every bug and tar remover on this list has a wholly unique chemical composition. No two are exactly alike; some use petroleum distillates to treat tough, sticky paint contaminants, while others rely on an acid such as citrus. They all share one thing in common, however: they’ve been developed expressly for the purpose of removing bugs, tar, and other tacky substances. Citrus is a weak acid, and while it’s conceivable that it could visibly damage your clear coat if left on for an extended period of time, that would likely require a very high concentration and weeks, or even months, of exposure – not minutes. Petroleum distillates, despite some widespread rumors to the contrary, pose essentially no risk to paints or clear coats either.

You know what does damage your car’s finish? Contaminants like tar and tree sap. Over time, they slowly, gradually etch their way into the finish, leaving dull or discolored patches behind in their wake. What’s worse, because they’re so tacky, the chances are that much greater that they’ll sit on your car’s body for an extended period – unless they’re dealt with properly in a timely manner with the help of a good bug and tar remover, that is.

For more great car care products, visit eBay.com.


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