How to remove Queensland’s road tar from your tyres

Seven steps to clean your tyres and stay safe when the roads are melting

It was a catastrophe and one that I cannot remember witnessing before in Queensland. Sure, melting tar sometimes sticks to tyres and needs to be removed. But a whole road melting and causing drivers to abandon their cars?

That was the scene in the Atherton Tablelands, south of Cairns, one day at the beginning of July. The road had recently been resealed. Then the weather turned from cool to hot. The tar melted rapidly, and as many as 50 vehicles had their tyres coated in tar. It was so thick and sticky, the drivers were forced to leave their cars on the road.

Hopefully, this will never happen to you. But if you do drive on a road where the bitumen is sticky, you could find that your tyres are wearing a coat of tar. They will pick up gravel and other debris from the roads. The combination of tar and gravel will make your ride less comfortable, increase braking distances, and erode the rubber on your tyres – and could cause other damage to your vehicle, too, as gravel flies off when you drive.

If you find tar on your tyres, it’s best to clean it off immediately. This seven-step process is the way to go. It will help keep you safe on the road and save you money as your tyres last longer.

Get your tar removal kit ready

To get started, you need a few household items and a couple of other specialist products:

  • Detergent
  • Tar-removing product (such as Ta Ta Tar)
  • Water-dispersing products (e.g. WD-40)
  • Linseed oil
  • Water
  • Plastic knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Scrubbing brush

Step 1:

Use the plastic knife and screwdriver to carefully scrape away the worst of the tar, taking care not to puncture or pierce the tyre.

Step 2:

Now, using a large amount of detergent, scrub the tyre with the scrubbing brush. Be prepared for some hard graft – as well as a liberal quantity of detergent, you’ll also need a good supply of elbow grease. Your objective is to remove as much of the tar, gravel and other debris from the tyre as possible.

Step 3:

Now for the linseed oil. Spread it onto the tyre, and let it bleed into the remaining tar for around 30 minutes.

Step 4:

Use the plastic knife to scrape away more of the tar, which will have been softened by the linseed oil.

Step 5:

If you haven’t removed all the tar, use a tar remover like Ta Ta Tar. You could also use WD-40, which will also dissolve tar. Refer to the product’s usage directions for how long you should leave the product in contact with the tyre. If you need to repeat the process, leave it a few minutes between cleans. Be prepared to use a lot more elbow grease – and be patient.

Step 6:

When you have removed all the tar, wash your tyre with a water and detergent mix, scrubbing away any residue of tar and cleaning products.

Step 7:

Inspect your tyre for damage, using our easy way to check your tyre tread and stay safe. If you discover damage to the sidewall or tread, take your vehicle to a reputable tyre shop and get a professional opinion.
Cleaning tar off your tyres is an essential maintenance job. Once it’s done, you must check for damage to the tyres. Don’t take any chances. Bring your vehicle into Darra Tyres, here in West Brisbane, if you are in any doubt about whether your tyres are safe to drive on. It really isn’t worth the risk. For a professional and personal tyre service that you can trust, contact Darra Tyres today.

Keeping your family and fleet safe,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.