By Jim Kerr

I remember well the time my Uncle drove out to the prairies from his home on the West Coast. He knew his black truck was a magnet for all those bugs we see in the summer, so to prevent them from sticking to his shiny paint, he applied a liberal dosage of a spray-on cooking oil. After all, he had heard from many others that it would allow the bugs to be washed quickly off.

Unfortunately, my Uncle also happened to be travelling when the Cottonwoods were in flower and the air was filled with white fluff. As you can imagine, his truck soon looked like it had been tarred and feathered. Yes, the bugs did wash off easily, but only after he had endured several days of friendly ribbing about his fluffy truck. Now there is a better way to keep the bugs from sticking to your vehicle: it’s made by RainX and they call it “Bug and Tar Protective Shield.”

Bug and Tar is a spray-on product that will protect your vehicle for up to two weeks. Just as the name says, it forms a protective shield that prevents bugs and tar from sticking to the paint. Instead, they stick to the coating, which can then be washed off the vehicle easily.

I tried it out on my truck during a recent trip in Alberta. The vehicle should be clean and dry before spraying the product on. There is a disclaimer that freshly waxed surfaces may compromise performance. I didn’t have to worry about that! As I sprayed the Bug and Tar shield on the grille, bumpers, hood and mirrors of my truck, its scent reminded me of mosquito repellent. I thought maybe it repelled the bugs, but no, it didn’t seem to scare the bugs off when the truck was sitting still, but they did easily wash off with the protective film just as the directions stated.

So why is Bug and Tar Protective Shield better than cooking oil? The material sprays on wet but soon becomes a dry film. You can see where the material is on the paint because it looked slightly shiner than the paint, but you would have to look to notice it.

After driving for several hundred kilometres, I found that the Bug and Tar did have some bugs stuck to it but there were less there than the test area where I hadn’t sprayed. There was also less dirt film on the paint where I had sprayed, although the product doesn’t claim to repel
dirt.

There are other alternatives to preventing bugs and tar from sticking to and staining the paint or grille. You could install a bug screen on the front of the vehicle, but they can be difficult to find. Or, you could install a bra on the vehicle, but the disadvantage is that they can rub on the paint and cause damage to the finish if the vehicle isn’t kept perfectly clean.

Another alternative is to have a clear protective plastic film applied. 3M makes a plastic film that can cut to the shape of your vehicle and applied over paint. When the material is on the vehicle, it looks like the original paint except for the small line where the edge of the
plastic sheet ends. This material is fairly expensive. To have the material cut to the shape of your vehicle and professionally applied, it may cost you $500 to $600 dollars or more, but the material also protects against rock chips as well. If you no longer want the plastic material on the vehicle, it can be peeled off without damaging the paint.

Bugs can stain the paint or plastic grilles so removing them frequently is important to keeping that vehicle looking good. Tar can be especially difficult to remove because it often contains a grain of sand or dirt that can scratch the paint if it is rubbed. Anything that will allow it to be washed off easily will save the finish on your vehicle.

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