How to Remove Road Paint from Your Car – Get It Off!

Updated: | Author: Steve Freling | Affiliate links may be present.

We all appreciate fresh stripes on the road. However, there can be some unpleasant consequences when you drive over stripes that are too fresh!

If you have road paint on your car, keep reading to find out how to remove paint from both the tires and the body.

Driving over fresh road paint can cause paint to transfer onto tires and the auto body. Use a mild compound of lemon juice and baking soda to remove paint from the tires. If that isn’t enough to remove the paint, let some vegetable oil soak into the paint to remove the final traces. Use a high-pressure wash to remove paint from the auto body, followed by WD-40.

Get Road Paint off Your Tires

Your tires usually get the majority of the road paint. It’s important to clean them with materials that will not cause the rubber to deteriorate. Lemon juice and baking soda have a mild chemical reaction, and vegetable oil helps break down paint. None of these ingredients will harm the tires.

Materials Needed:

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Rinse all the dirt and debris off the tire.
  2. Scrub the paint with the brush  to loosen up as much of the paint as possible before you apply the baking soda and lemon juice.
  3. Sprinkle the baking soda on the areas with paint while the tire is still wet.
  4. Pour or spray the lemon juice over the baking soda.The mixture will bubble up.
  5. Use the scrub brush to remove the loosened paint.
  6. Rinse thoroughly.
  7. If there is any paint remaining, use the soft cloth to apply a generous layer of vegetable oil. Allow it to soak for 2-4 hours. The oil will soften and loosen the paint.
  8. Use the brush to scrub away the remaining paint flakes.
  9. Keep the brush and the tire wet as you scrub.
  10. Rinse the tire thoroughly with water once all the paint is removed.

Get Road Paint Off Your Car Body

Road paint only takes a minute or two to drive, so it is important to move quickly. If you got road paint on your car, the first thing you need to do is head to the nearest car wash.

Materials Needed:

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. A high pressure car wash should be able to remove most of the fresh paint. If the paint has been on the car for longer than a day, it may be difficult to remove.
  2. If the car wash does not remove all the paint, dry the vehicle, and apply WD-40 to the paint residue. Leave it on for 1-2 hours. The WD-40 will soften the traffic paint, and make it easier to remove.
  3. Wash the vehicle again, preferably at the high pressure car wash.
  4. If there is still paint on the car, repeat the process.
  5. For heavy road paint build up that has been sitting for days, apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly to the paint. Leave the jelly sitting on the paint overnight.
  6. Go through the high pressure car wash again. This should remove the rest of the paint. If it doesn’t, repeat the process.
  7. Finish the paint removal process with a good coat of car wax.

What NOT to Use to Get Road Paint Off Your Car

These items and cleaners will damage the rubber and paint on your car, and should not be used in the paint removal process.

Steel Wool/Abrasive Pads

Steel wool and abrasive pads, such as Scotch Brite pads, will leave scratches in the car’s paint. Then, you’ll have another problem to deal with! They also should not be used on tires. You can actually scrub away part of the rubber.

Brake Cleaner

Brake cleaner is a heavy duty degreaser that was designed to remove grease from metal parts of the car.  It contains acetone, and hydrocarbons. Both of those ingredients will break down paint, plastic, and rubber.

In other words, brake cleaner will actually eat through tires, paint, and plastic. Do not use brake cleaner to remove paint, or anything else, from your tires or paint.


Acetone is the main ingredient in many paint removers. As a paint remover, it will eat into the paint on the vehicle. Never use acetone on your car’s paint.

Acetone will eat through rubber, too. The higher the concentration of acetone in the product, the more tire damage it will cause. Avoid acetone anywhere near your tires.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let road paint decorate your car! Use these simple paint removal techniques to easily remove stray paint. Even better, just avoid the wet road paint next time. Happy driving!

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About Steve Freling

Steve has worked for more than 20 years as an automotive mechanic, and later run his own repair shop for both cars and motorcycles. He's a maintenance freak, and generally pretty good at troubleshooting!

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