Skip to content

How to Remove Road Paint From a Car

An art car covered in paint

Your car’s finish is under constant threat from above, below and all sides as you drive it. Knowing how to remove road paint from a car will make sure your ride doesn’t accidentally look like an art car.

Even if you obey all the warning signs and stay clear of freshly painted lines, all it takes is a little spill or one small section of still-wet paint, and suddenly your car is streaked with yellow or white. Here’s how to remove road paint from a car if this ever happens to you.

Start With a Pressure Washroad paint

The sooner you take action to remove road paint from your car, the less likely it will cause damage to your car’s finish. Start by giving it a pressure wash, which will remove much of the paint if it’s still fresh. If you’re lucky, that’s all you’ll need to do. But if it’s been a day or two or if the weather is exceptionally hot, you might need to do a bit more to get all the baked-on paint off of your car.

Be Gentle

Though it may be tempting to try and scrape off the road paint or use a solvent or scouring cleanser, this is a bad idea. Remember, you have a glossy finish under that road paint that you don’t want to damage. Harsh solvents and abrasives might take off the road paint easily, but they could take off your car’s clear coat and paint, too.

What’s Safe for Your Car’s Finish?

Petroleum jelly can often help loosen the paint, and it won’t hurt your car. Apply it liberally to the road paint, wait overnight and then once again take your car through a pressure wash. You can also use a lubricant like WD-40, which is quick and easy to apply and works well for small spatters of road paint.

You may find a little bit of a greasy residue left behind by these products, but not to worry. Just give your car a good hand washing in those areas, and buff with a soft towel to get your car looking good as new.

The Challenge of Wheel Wells

It’s trickier to remove paint from wheel wells because they’re not the same shiny finish found on the rest of your car. The best bet here is to go right for the petroleum jelly. It may take several applications over the course of several days, but perseverance will usually see the last of the road paint disappear. Worst-case scenario, you may have to resort to scraping or scouring with a bit more force. But since this area is unfinished and more out of view, the risk of damaging the aesthetics of your car is much lower.

Check out all the paint related products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about how to remove road paint from a car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *