How To Remove Oil Based Stain From Car Paint

How To Remove Oil Based Stain From Car Paint

Last Updated on September 27, 2023 by Chase Manhattan

Refilling car oil should be done carefully to prevent any oil spills on the paint. In general, you should always be careful when handling oil near your car. Spilling oil on car paint will leave a stain which is nasty to deal with. How to get oil off car paint?

  1. If the stain is still wet, soak with a dry microfiber cloth. 
  2. Wash the car.
  3. Apply tar remover.
  4. Let it dissolve.
  5. Wipe with a clean microfiber cloth. 

If you act fast enough, and you are lucky enough, removing the oil stain from the paint will be easy. Dry oil stains are a little bit harder to get rid of, not impossible though. It’s important to remove these stains as soon as possible in order to prevent bubbling paint, blisters, and similar paint imperfections.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove oil-based stains from car paint.

Pre-Treating The Stain

Pre-Treating The Stain

A common mistake people make is immediately wiping the oil away with a cloth. This is a really bad move when treating an oil stain on car paint.

It’s best to catch the oil stain while it’s still wet. However, while it’s still wet, you can contaminants other areas of the body panel. You will need to pre-treat the stain to avoid contamination.

Do not wipe or scrub with a microfiber cloth. That’s how you will contaminate the rest of the car paint. To pre-treat an oil stain on car paint, just soak it with a microfiber cloth.

This should absorb most of the oil without spreading to other areas. Just place the cloth on the stain and hold it. You can try dabbing with the cloth just make sure to not contaminate other areas.

A good tip here is to not use any new microfiber cloths. You won’t be able to use them again for washing the car. Use a clean old cloth.

If the stain is all dried up, you don’t have to pre-treat the stain.

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Wash The Car

Wash The Car

The second step is to thoroughly wash the car. Later on, you will be adding a solution to dissolve the oil. That should be done on a clean car.

Don’t skip this step, if you do, the cleaning solution for removing the oil won’t work. The thing is, even if your car looks clean, there are a lot of dirt particles that you don’t see.

The dirt particles will stick the most to the oil. So, the dirt won’t let the oil dissolve properly.

Just give your car a nice wash. I recommend washing it with a pressure washer but the two-bucket method will also work.

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Apply Tar Remover

To treat oil stains, fuel stains, and all kinds of grease stains, use tar remover for cars. This is a cleaning solution that is basically a degreaser.

The tar remover acts on the stain and dissolves it. Since oil it’s so hard to dissolve, you can’t just treat it with car wash soap, you need something strong like tar remover.

Once your car is washed and dried, add the tar remover. Keep in mind, your car should be completely dry. So, blow-dry it after washing it, or dry it with a clean microfiber cloth.

Here’s how to use a tar remover.

  1. Apply the tar remover to a clean microfiber cloth.
  2. Dab the stain with the cloth or wipe in circular motions.
  3. Let the tar remover sit for a while. 
    You need to let some time pass for the oil to dissolve. The product you are using should have instructions on the bottle.
  4. Wipe the tar away with a clean microfiber cloth.
    Once the oil stain is dissolved, just wipe it away. Don’t rub or scrub here. Use quick linear motions while wiping.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 if needed. 
    In some cases, you will need to repeat this several times if the stain is strong.

You can use this method to get rid of all kinds of grease stains.

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Apply Wax

This is a completely optional step. It depends on whether the stain faded the car paint. In some cases, upon removing the stain, the paint will be faded a bit.

To fix this, just wax your car. If you have a coating on your car, don’t worry, you won’t have faded car paint. As a general recommendation, I suggest always using a high quality wax product. You can use a spray type wax if you prefer the convenience.

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Should I Visit A Professional

Now, in some cases, the oil stain will be really hard to get rid of. This usually happens when the oil stain was left untreated for quite some time.

It gets even worse if the car was sitting in direct sunlight. The oil stain will get too dry, and it will stick to the pores of the pain.

When this happens, the oil is really hard to get rid of using just tar remover. If so, you may need additional work.

I recommend visiting a professional if the tar remover doesn’t work. They will explain how the oil stain will be treated. If you are up for it, they will get rid of the stain for you.

Can I Use WD-40

I often see people trying to get rid of oil stains on car exterior using WD-40. Although WD-40 is a great product, it won’t dissolve the oil stain. It’s a product for treating corrosion.

If you also got this idea, don’t do it. Get a dedicated tar remover for cars. Also, don’t use any household products. They are ineffective and can cause more damage.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

What Happens If You Get Oil On Your Car Paint

Spilling oil on car paint won’t damage it. The oil will leave a nasty stain though that will be annoying to look at. You won’t have to do any kind of paint restoration, you just have to get rid of the stain.

Will Rubbing Alcohol Damage Car Paint

Yes, rubbing alcohol will damage car paint. Even the alcohol is slightly dissolved, there is still a chance that the paint will be damaged. Don’t use rubbing alcohol to treat an oil stain on the car exterior.

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