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A mess to clean up

When returning home last week I got behind an 18-wheeler which was creating black smoke so thick that I could not see a car in front of me. Unfortunately I was behind that vehicle for 15-20 minutes. When I got home several hours later I discovered my WHITE rental car had " grayish-black splash marks" all over the front of it like I had driven through a large black mud puddle. After a hard rain a few days later the “mud” was still there so I took a closer look at it and it looked like the paint had been scratched off. I tried scrubbing it with dish soap and a sponge but only made a dent in getting it off my car. I will soon need to return the rental car and I’d like to get all of the mess off – any suggestions on what to use? If I take it to a commercial car wash will that work?

I would ask a professional detailer to take a look at it. If it is that stubborn, you might do more harm than good and might prefer someone who does a lot of work like this.

WalMart sells a clay bar kit such as this.

Follow the directions on the package and it should remove the impinged debris from the paint.


After driving on newly paved roads the bottom edge of the car gets black dots on it from whatever they pave roads with. It seems like it is some combo of tar and oil. The only thing I’ve found that gets it off is a dab of gasoline on a cotton cloth. You have to be extra careful b/c the gasoline is extremely flammable and very dangerous to work with, and it will remove the car’s paint almost as easily as the tar. Best to try this in an inconspicuous area first. There’s probably something better and safer, but gasoline is what I use. I wash the affected area with hot soap and water immediately afterward to remove any remnants of gasoline.

Try bug and tar remover.

This being a rental, I’d take it to a detailer pronto. If it creates permanent damage to the finish by being left there, or if cig’s scenario becomes reality, you’ll pay with your firstborn when you turn the car in.

And, if the cost skyrockets, don’t forget to call your insurance.

Did you buy the supplemental rental car insurance . . . you know, that thing that most of us always decline?

You’re right @db4690.

If they have full coverage insurance on their personal vehicle then the rental is covered.

If they just have liabilty insurance then they should have purchased supplemental insurance.


I agree with the clay bar and the bug and tar remover. I’d try the bug remover first but I love the silky finish you get with the clay bar. I also agree that it might be worth the $100 to have a detailer doing it since it might need to be buffed off.

You take out rental insurance? Here is my story, rented a car for a 3 week west coast trip, got the insurance, well sure I thought that might come in handy as we forded a creek and scraped the gunnels to heck, but mad it through to see a most magnificent place, fern canyon in redwood forest, then me being blind in one eye with no depth perception, and whoops we are going on the expressway? not, not yellow lines but triangular yellow lane divider, did not rip off the muffler of the Chrysler 300 thank god, then there was the curb stop, really the bumper is that low? then I checked into how to return it, no pickup at airport, had to take it on a wet rainy night to a car place, luckily hotel provided shuttle, never heard a word, rainy nights for returning a rental could be a plus.

Kerosene works as well as gasoline, is easier on the paint and is much more flammable and I think it is the main ingredient in bug and tar remover.