You may be on cloud nine after your adventure-rich car trip, but your vehicle cannot be as thrilled as you are. After all, splattered bugs, fresh tar, and other miscellaneous road debris stick around and are a real pain to remove.
Luckily, you can get rid of all the unfortunate hazards of the road using special formulas like the best bug and tar removers for cars. These cleaners are specially designed to be safely used on car paint, glass, plastic, and other surfaces. Their secret lies in the mix of chemicals that break the bonds between bug splatter, tar spots, stubborn stains, and your car’s body.
If you are misled by the variety of formulas and have no clue which one to select, I’ve penned this review to put an end to the guesswork. Stick with me, and you will learn the most effective solutions for removing those gooey substances.
How I picked and tested a bug and tar removers for cars
I haven’t washed my car for more than a month to make certain it gets really filthy to be able to check how the reviewed products would cope with the cleaning challenge. The bugs were all over the bumper, so it looked really bad. Besides, some serious tar got stuck to the vehicle’s body due to the miles of intrastate driving.
I used all the products from the list (you will find it below) during the pre-wash stage to get rid of pasted insects, stubborn tar, and other residues. But you can use those tur and bug cleaners differently if the instruction reads that.
When making up my mind about each product, I considered whether the remover was easy to apply, how it did its job and the price.
Best bug and tar removers for cars reviews
Turtle Wax – best overall
Quickly renew your vehicle’s surface and say goodbye to bugs and tar with the Turtle Wax cleaner.
Unlike Chemical Guys liquid shampoo, the Turtle Wax bug & tar remover is a foam-like formula. Thanks to the 16-oz spray bottle, you can quickly cover large areas. Then, you leave it for at least a minute and wipe it away with a clean microfiber cloth.
The Turtle Wax formula is applicable for glass and paint, so you can use it for literally any spot like the hood, grills, door panels, headlights, windshields, and more.
The manufacturer promises that this product will easily deal with bugs, tar, and tree sap. While the Turtle Wax foam worked great for insects and tar, it didn’t get the pine tree sap off. Perhaps, that’s because the sap was hardened, and it may work with a fresh one. Anyway, I had no chance to check that out. But I should admit that this formula leaves no streaking, so it cleans off really nicely.
Turtle Wax is the best bug and tar remover that is fantastic with tar and insects. It cleans off undesired road debris while staying gentle to the car’s paint.
- Size, ml/fl.oz: 473/16
- Effectively removes tar and bugs
- Easy-to-apply foam in a spray bottle
- Cleans off easily without any residues
- Suitable for paint and glass
- Does not work for hardened tree sap
Chemical Guys – best budget
Are you looking for an effective yet penny-wise bug-and-tar wash? Then you can’t ignore the Chemical Guys heavy-duty car wash shampoo.
The Chemical Guys concentrated formula with Sodium Metasilicate Pentahydrate and Ethylene Glycol Butyl is effective at cleaning and degreasing bumpers, plastics, chrome, grilles, paintwork, and windshields.
Unlike the Turtle Wax foam that should be sprayed directly into the surface, the Chemical Guys shampoo is mainly applied when you wash your car using a 2-bucket method. However, if you have a spray bottle, you can also sprinkle it. This product is available in different sizes, ranging from 4 oz to 1 gallon.
I tested both application methods, and washing proved to be more efficient. Perhaps, that’s because the surface gets more product and more time for sitting. Spraying the shampoo made no difference at all.
Generally, this is the best tar remover for car paint if the budget is a critical aspect for you. The Chemical Guys formula won’t help you get rid of tree sap or hardened contamination, but it is a great solution for fresh road residues. You may want to use this product as a wallet-friendly built-up prevention option.
- Size, ml/fl.oz: 473/16
- Suitable both in numerous sizes to cover your needs
- Gentle to glass, metal, and plastic surfaces
- Can be applied during washing or with a sprayer
- Doesn’t remove stubborn tar and bug residues
- More effective during washing – spray is almost useless
Would you like to get an easy fix to the bug problem? McKee’s 37 bug remover is a worthy product to pay attention to.
Like CARPRO TarX, McKee’s 37 comes in a liquid spray formula, so it’s fairly easy to apply. All it takes you is just to spray the product on the surface, let it sit, and then wipe it off – no rinsing required. The 22-oz bottle is enough to cover the whole vehicle’s area during several cleanings. You can also get a cleaning kit that includes two sponges for removing stubborn bug stains.
Mind that McKee’s 37 formula targets bugs exclusively. It is ineffective with tar and tree sap. If you want to get max results with this product, let it sit on the surface for around 3-5 minutes (not just 30 secs as the manufacturer says), but do not let it dry. It’s not a quick spray, but truth be told, it’s easy to clean off. I received a leaking bottle, and one-third of the product was gone, which is disappointing considering the price.
All the flaws aside, McKee’s 37 is a car bug remover spray for vehicles that get really buggy. The concentrated formula easily breaks down and dissolves bug residues before they cause permanent damage to your car’s exterior. At the same time, it’s safe on paint, glass, chrome, and plastic.
- Size, ml/fl.oz: 946/32
- Safely removes bug spots from any vehicle surface
- Easy to apply spray formula
- Features a kit for effortless cleaning
- Requires more time for sitting than announced by the manufacturer
- Not suitable for tar and sab
- The bottle might leak, and you risk getting a half-empty bottle
CARPRO TarX is a functional tar, bug, and insect splatter remover with excellent degreasing properties.
Compared to the 22-oz McKee’s 37 bottle, you can pick how much of the CARPRO TarX product you can get – 17 oz or 34 oz.
The simple spray formula allows you to easily break down tar and bug residues on glass, plastic, metal, and chrome. All you need to do is spray the product on the area and then wipe it off in a minute. You may need to apply the formula on microfiber for more stubborn dirt and gently wipe the undesired residues away. I must say that the bug and tar spots come off, but this will require some elbow grease. If you have a lot of hardened tar on your vehicle, it might take you several goes to dissolve it.
Be careful if your vehicle has paint protection film (PPF). Avoid applying CARPRO TarX on the areas with PPF since it might get strange marks.
I would recommend storing this product vertically because the cap leaks.
All in all, CARPRO TarX is a great bug and tar remover for cars that do their job well. It effectively breaks down bugs and tar spots and will ensure your car is clean again.
- Size, ml/fl.oz: 500/16.9
- Breaks down bug and tar spots
- Suitable for almost all car surface
- An easy-to-use spray formula
- Several size options: 17 oz and 34 oz
- The bottle cap leaks
- Will require some elbow grease for removing stubborn dirt
- It might damage the PPF layer
Prosol Works BugsN’All
The multi-purpose Prosol Works BugsN’All concentrated formula is a simple way to fight the car’s exterior contamination and preserve its clean look.
This formula is effective at removing grease, dried bug splatter, grime, and tar while keeping wax, paint, or polish in their places.
Unlike CARPRO TarX, which works on metal, glass, plastic, and similar surfaces, the Prosol Works BugsN’All product is also applicable for wood, leather, rubber, and fabric. Its spec of use is also wider as this formula helps get rid of black streaks, oxidation, bird droppings, tree sap, brake dust, and other road contaminants.
The 4-ounce bottle contains the concentrated liquid you should mix with water. The spray bottle is also included, so you’ll easily apply the product to a large area. It should sit on the surface from 25 to 60 seconds, depending on the level of contamination. Make sure you do not let it dry as this would significantly complicate the cleaning process.
The Prosol Works BugsN’All bug & tar remover for vehicles is great at taking off bugs and tar but not as effective as advertised for splatters and stains.
- Size, ml/fl.oz: 946/32
- Easily removes grime and bug splatter
- Includes a spray bottle for easier application
- It doesn’t require car washing
- Works poorly for other contaminations like stains and splatters
- Hard to clean off when dried
You may need
McKee’s Road Kill Bug Scrubber
How to use a bug and tar remover?
The best tip for using the bug and tar remover is to follow the instructions since there are different formulas out there.
The spray products might work pretty well, and all you need to do is just spray and wipe them away. Others might require a little bit more patience from your side, meaning that you should allow some time to let the product sit on the surface to break the bug spots and tar.
Concentrated formulas might involve mixing the product with water, while you will get great results when applying the shampoo on the sponge and agitating the contamination.
Make sure you work in a shady area and apply the product on a cool surface only. Also, remove tar or bugs as soon as possible, not letting them get harder to get off.