Tackling Those Sticky Problems On Your Road To Fun
Driving through construction zones or agricultural areas this summer of 2021? They can make a sticky mess of your vehicle.
Time is the enemy when it comes to preventing permanent damage to your vehicle.
“The longer you wait, the harder it is to remove,” said Mike Pennington of Meguiar’s Car Care products. “Adhesion is the problem for tar, and bug goo can cause paint stains.”
Pennington has known drivers who get so frustrated they start picking at the goo with their fingernail or--unfortunately--use a scouring pad. Both cause Pennington to wince.
“They’re inflicting a huge number of scratches,” Pennington said. “If you’re going on a road trip, consider applying some preventative care.”
All creatures including insects are composed of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Those substances readily stick to surfaces such as glass and paint. The fatty tissues of insects are like glue. The longer it stays on your vehicle, the more difficult it is to remove.
Summer temperatures accelerate interaction of contaminants and your vehicle’s exterior. Organic acids within them can result in paint etching that is hard to remove.
Bug goo hardens readily but may be softened using a spray wash. In contrast tar is made from petroleum distillates. The properties which make it good for roads--sticky, quick drying--make it anathema for your vehicle.
“It’s not always convenient to stop when you’re driving,” Pennington said. “You can spend a few minutes later when you get to the hotel. Or even drop by a coin-op auto wash to spray off your vehicle.
Asphalt should be removed promptly because it hardens quickly. Sometimes that can become difficult when traveling, Pennington said.
“Travelers can pick up a bottle of bug and tar solution designed for automobiles,” Pennington said. “But don’t store it in your vehicle for the duration of the trip.”
Some bug and tar solutions can give off vapors, or they may come in aerosol cans not meant to be stored in a confined space.
There are some other methods to prepare for sticky combatants, however. The goal is to prevent permanent damage to vehicle paint.
For starters Pennington puts on a coat of wax before traveling. Anything that encounters the paint is easier to remove when he’s on a road trip. A coat of carnauba or silicon-based wax offers an easy, affordable preventative treatment.
““Wax helps keep things from adhering,” Pennington said. “It provides that layer of protection between your paint and the insect goo or tar.”
Pennington also recommends one of the easiest methods of prevention: avoiding the problem altogether.
“Take a few minutes to map out where you’re going and see if there’s any road work going on,” Pennington suggested. “Then just circumvent the problem. If you drive into places where roads are being tarred, move over to the farthest lane to avoid it.”
Here are some other tips from Pennington’s quiver of car care arrows:
- Apply a coat of wax before going on your next road trip and clean your vehicle while traveling. The wax coat provides a layer of protection that makes it easier to remove contaminants.
- Avoid surface stains by removing insect and tar contaminants before they harden.
- Travel with a bottle of waterless car wash and wax solution. Tar and insect goo usually are unavoidable in summer, so clean your vehicle surfaces frequently to avoid permanent damage.
- Use bug and tar remover to remove stubborn contaminants. Make sure to read the label for proper application and test it on a small area. Also, do not store bug and tar removal products in your vehicle.
- Re-apply a wax treatment after applying bug and tar removal products to replace the protective layer removed by the treatment.
- Use a clean microfiber towel to wipe off your vehicle. Carry several for your travel adventure, and either dispose or clean them after every use to avoid scratching your vehicle’s paint.
“Bugs won’t really damage your windshield but they can wear away at the clear coat on your paint,” Pennington said. “Wash your car often and use a quality wax to protect the exterior.”
- Sticky contaminants are easier to remove before they are allowed to dry in the summer sun. Apply a waterless wash solution as soon after impact as possible.
- Fill the window wash tank with fluid intended for bug removal. It can help remove gooey insect parts and prevent streaking when using windshield wipers.
- Install a new pair of wiper blades to sweep away insect parts and other contaminants. Old blades can leave a streaky mess. Some blades are designed with firm edges designed to help remove insect parts.
- Avoid harsh solvents such as detergents or other household cleaners can permanently damage paint and rubber surfaces.
- Never use a scraper or scrub brushes to remove contaminants. You might end up permanently marring the surfaces of your vehicle.
- Use a vehicle sponge with soft netting to trap insect parts and tar. Gently wipe the surface and rinse the sponge frequently.
- Visit a coin-op car wash to remove heavy residue while traveling. Follow up with bug and tar solutions as needed.
- Avoid areas with road work. Move over to the lane farthest away from road work to avoid kicking up pebbles and asphalt that may damage your vehicle.
“Read the instructions before using bug and tar products for personal safety and application,” Pennington said. “Have patience whenever you use cleaning products. Spray down the surface and let the solution soak in. You don’t need to scrub.”