How To Remove Exhaust Stains From Car Paint?

Car paints can be affected by every slight stain. These stains, if ignored can badly affect your car paint and may even lead to the paint peeling off when you try cleaning the stain off either after a long time or if you rub the stain hard. One of such serious stains that your car is prone to getting is stains from your exhaust pipes. These stains are not something you should ignore. This article explains the different steps to remove exhaust stains from car paint so read on!

What Are Exhaust Stains? Can They Be Ignored?

Your car’s exhaust emits several gases and other emissions. The emissions can be soot/particulates, which is unburnt fuel. The unburnt fuel molecules attract moisture and such in the exhaust cycle and grow in size. Due to the airflow around the rear of your car, the particulates impinge themselves on the paint surface causing stain marks on your car paint.

The exhaust stains can affect your car paint pretty hard if it’s ignored. So you have to take the necessary steps to remove exhaust stains from car paint whenever you see them. Otherwise, the exhaust emissions will leave a permanent stain on your car paint. As emissions from your car’s exhaust is a continuous process, they will keep accumulating on your car paint. The stains may create a thick layer on your car paint if you never bother to clean them. Once the stain is permanent and the layer is formed, removing the stains may be near to impossible without damaging your car paint.

How To Remove Exhaust Stains From Car Paint?

Exhaust stains on your car may be very similar to surfaces that got stained from a fire or smoke. There are some cleaning steps you can follow to clean the exhaust stains from your car damage without causing any permanent damage to it.

You have to know that simply washing your car won’t in any way remove the exhaust stain. So now you may be wondering, how else you can get the exhaust stain off your car paint! Do not panic and just read on!

1. Materials Required

Before getting deeper into the process to remove exhaust stains from car paint, let us look at all materials you will need to remove these disgusting stains from your beautiful car paint.

  • Lots of very cheap microfiber towels (shock you will throw away at a point during the process)
  • A bucket full of water
  • Car soap or some effective detergent

  • All-purpose cleaners, diluted in water in the ratio 8:1. (All-purpose cleaners like Meguiars seems to be working better than degreasers like Super Clean)
  • Detail Brushes
  • Water hose
  • Clean drying towel
  • Clay bar
  • Detail Spray (this is optional)

2. Steps To Follow

The process of cleaning the exhaust stains from your car paint is quite simple. The process if done properly is quite straightforward and you can easily remove exhaust stains from car paint. There are however a few things you have to keep in mind before jumping further into the steps.

Sometimes there may be smoke or other disturbing smell in your car paint along with the exhaust stains. So while removing the stain, you will also have to work to remove this smell as well. Also make sure that you are doing this process indoors, as inside a garage or under a shade. You would not want all-purpose cleaners to dry on your newly applied car paint so only do the process indoors. So here are the steps you must follow to successfully remove both exhaust stains and their smell from your precious car paint.

What Is The Procedure?

Here are the procedures you must follow to remove exhaust stains from your car paint

  • Make sure that your car is in a good position indoors, inside a garage or under a shade to let you work well on the areas with exhaust stains.
  • Once you are well settled to work properly, use car soap to soak the microfiber towels in the water.

  • Spray the exhaust pipes very well to remove any bigger particles or such stuck in the stain.
  • Now spray the area with the exhaust stains using the all-purpose cleaner and let it be for around 15 seconds.
  • Then, squeeze the microfiber towels until they are barely dripping water and fold it into four.

  • Flip and use the towel as the towel will get dirty as you clean the stains off from your car paint.
  • After swiping the stained car paint area, rinse it well with good clean water.
  • If the stain is not still removed, use the all-purpose cleaner again and repeat the process all over again.

  • After making sure that all the stain is removed, clean the area with water well and let it dry.
  • You can repeat this complete process on other stains on your car paint if there are more of them or other black marks in your car. Some of these areas will need a detailed brush to clean thoroughly.

3. What Next?

After finishing all the cleaning process, it is now time for you to use the clay bar. This is a very important part of the process as clay bars can help get rid of all the bonded contaminants off the paint that the all-purpose cleaner was not able to clean off. To use the clay bar, you need some type of lubrication between the paint and clay. Do not just use water while using a clay bar. You can use some freshwater with car soap (don’t overdo it on the car soap here). The most recommended thing to use is detail spray.

You have to either spray the affected area with detail spray or squeeze a microfiber with car soap onto the panel. Then put the clay bar onto the paint and glide the bar back and forth until you can feel that the area is getting nice and smooth. You should not push hard onto the paint while doing this as this can cause the paint to peel off. Pushing can also cause marring and scratching, and it is just not needed when claying. Knead the clay bar after it looks dirty or after every couple of panels. Then, either wipe down the panel with a drying towel or rinse, depending on what you used for lubrication, and move to the next area with the stain until the entire vehicle is free of any stains or exhaust stains.


After completing all the above-mentioned steps to remove all the exhaust stains from your car paint, give it a final wash and wax. Wash your car like you usually do and after drying it, step back and enjoy the exhaust stain-free car paint and congratulate yourself on the work you did. Hope you enjoyed the article and found it helpful.

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