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Thread: How to remove dried roof tar

  1. #1
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    Default How to remove dried roof tar

    Ok this is for my Jeep but it could just as well have been for one of my a-bodies since I did this once on an older a-wagon. So a few years ago I replaced the windshield and used roof caulk because I had no money and it's worked for many cars in the past. Well it was too late in the year and it was too cold and didn't set up. I ended up having to buy a can on the way downstate with my kid and slather more on to keep it from leaking.

    So now I'm replacing it properly. The caulk at the bottom of the windshield never dried and it comes off with gas. But the stuff that dried is hard as a rock and I can't seem to get it off without scraping it and removing the paint too. Which I don't want to do on the a-pillars and roof.

    So far I've tried gas, diesel fuel, marvel mystery oil, greased lightning, goo gone, orange clean. Even with a plastic scraper it won't budge. Gas seems to help some if I leave it awhile but then it seems like it might be starting to soften and remove the paint too.

    Any ideas?
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans



  2. #2
    Senior Member Drop Top Olds's Avatar
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    Any heavy petrochemical solvent should cut it. Toluene or Naptha. Naptha most likely will work but no guarantees that the paint will not be affected. Kerosene is a possibility....again paint will "feel it".
    1959 Chevrolet Apache 31 235 I-6 SM420
    1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Conv 350-4 V8 THM350
    1988 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport 2.8 V-6 Getrag 5 Speed

  3. #3

    Pontiac6ksteawd's Avatar
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    You really only have 2 options. Using a hook knife, and cut it down as best you can, and reinstall over a thin layer of Caulk. Or use a wire wheel, and grind off the caulking, but you will also scrap off the paint. But it go back over it with the pre-treatment that your supposed to use on windshield install, it will seal the metal.

    The biggest concern is caulking is hydrophobic, and can/does cause rust when used on metal surfaces.
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  4. #4
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    I would think it is stuck so well that the paint will come with it. When painting bobby pin wire for Goody Products in my misguided youth we used MEK and dowclean as a solvent for the pin wire. Both dangerous. They might cut dried paint also but I think MEK might be near the top of the food chain as a solvent.

  5. #5
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    I read something about soaking it in vegetable oil for awhile to soften it. So I had some laying around so I figured I'd try it. Ended up busy and not getting back to it till tonight. The thin layers come off quite easily. The thicker layers are tougher. If I can get a good square edge I can pop off a thick glob clean off the paint here and there with the plastic scraper and smacking it with the palm of my hand. So I removed what I could and we will go at it again.

    If I can get a small container of tolulene or naptha I'll try it. Or some kerosene, we do have stations around here where I can get just a little bit. Or now that it's somewhat softened, maybe the gas will work better. The gas removed the unhardened stuff at the base of the windsheld really nicely.

    If all else fails I'll just scrape it off paint and all, and repaint around the windshield before putting it back in. It's not the sealing surface that's affected, that came off clean. It's the a pillars and front edge of the roof from where I smeared the caulk on to seal it up. It was raining that day and I was in a time crunch so I did what I could do.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  6. #6
    Senior Member Drop Top Olds's Avatar
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    Highly recommend using MEK to remove any solvents and impurities left from tar removal process. MEK evaporates quickly and will give you the best bond between the glazing sealant and the painted metal surface.

    The kerosene, naptha, etc will most likely need to soak on big "blobs" to remove part of it. Be aware it won't immediately dissolve the tar....
    1959 Chevrolet Apache 31 235 I-6 SM420
    1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Conv 350-4 V8 THM350
    1988 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport 2.8 V-6 Getrag 5 Speed

  7. #7
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    Thanks, I'll definitely look into that. I already did the job once. Don't want to have to it again after this.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

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