Our neighbors up the road always have black tire marks on their driveway. I don’t know what’s going on over there but it looks like they’re always leaving the house in a hurry to make those lines. Where do they need to get to so fast?! 🙂
Black tire marks on your driveway come from the polymer compound within tires becoming hot. Hot tires are more likely to leave marks than cool ones. These marks won’t go away on their own for months, as many of the chemicals used in tire compounds are water-resistant, so don’t fade in the rain.
In this article, we’re going to consider why tires leave black marks on driveways (is it actually from speeding off all the time?!). We’ll also look at preventing these black lines in the first place, and how to get rid of them when they do appear…
Why Do Tires Leave Black Marks on My Driveway?
The black tire marks on your driveway come from the polymer compound within the tires becoming hot. Heated tires are more likely to leave marks than cooler ones.
Tires leave black marks for two main reasons: you’ve had to screech to a halt or execute a sharp manoeuvre, or your car has been stationary for a long period during hot weather.
Tires leave black marks because of a process called “plasticizer migration”. Plasticizers are used to make tires (only about 19% of a modern tire is made from natural rubber). The tire manufacturers use polymer compounds along with other chemicals to create a flexible material.
When the tire gets hot from driving or hot weather, these plasticizers start to leach out of the tire, forming dark marks on the surface.
On the whole, using a flexible compound made from polymers is a good thing: they give the tires more traction and are especially good in cold weather conditions. The flip side is the occasional tire mark on your driveway.
(One solution we’ve heard is to switch down to poorer-quality car tires. High-performance tires and all-season tires have more plasticizers and so could create more tire marks. But this sounded a bit drastic to us, as road safety has to be more important than marks in your pavers, right?)
Will The Tire Marks Go Away On Their Own? (How Long Will They Last?)
We’re sorry, but these marks aren’t going anywhere fast on their own. Many of the chemicals used in tire compounds are water resistant, so won’t gradually fade in the rain. They generally stay around for months or even longer.
This is good news for accident investigators, who can piece together evidence by looking at the position and type of tire marks. However, it’s less good for the rest of us, as we don’t really want unsightly dark marks on our tidy driveways.
So, we have two main approaches here. We learn the best ways to prevent these marks from happening, and learn how to remove them if they do occur. Of course, if it’s a smallish mark on a dark-colored or older driveway, we may simply decide not to worry about this at all.
How Do You Remove Tire Marks From Your Driveway?
As tire marks won’t go away on their own, you’ll have to remove them yourself. It’s a pretty straightforward process, and we’ll take you through how to do it.
You have a choice of three types of cleaning product: degreaser, oxygen bleach or trisodium phosphate. This last one is a heavy-duty degreaser that’s similar to bicarbonate of soda.
Bleach may sound harsh, but gentler remedies might not remove those black marks. Don’t use bleach if you have a stained or painted driveway, and please be careful with the run-off when you rinse it later. You don’t want to harm plants, grass, or pets.
You can buy degreasers online or in home stores. This is a more environmentally friendly method than using diluted bleach, but you may need to repeat the process. If it’s a big stain, don’t mess about degreasing it with a mild domestic soap, but get yourself a big bottle of trisodium phosphate.
The method we’re about to take you through works on asphalt, concrete, stone, and brick driveways. Ideally, clean the stain as soon as you notice the tire marks, as they’re harder to remove once they’ve baked in for a while.
Wear tough protective gloves and safety goggles for this task. Make sure there aren’t any inquisitive small kids or pets around.
- First wet the tire marks and the area around them, using clean water (don’t add soap or anything – just plain H2O). This helps the surface to absorb the cleaning products.
- Spray on whichever cleaning product you’ve decided to use, following the instructions from their packaging. Bleach needs a 1:4 dilution with plain water.
- Leave the cleaner on the stain for up to 10 minutes.
- If you’re using bleach, re-apply it 3 or 4 times during this period so that it keeps working. If you’re using a degreaser, you can give it a scrub with a stiff bristle brush.
- Carefully but thoroughly rinse it off with plenty of water.
- Repeat if necessary.
Can you pressure wash black tire marks? You can, although you may still need to scrub with a degreaser or soak with diluted bleach as well.
If you do pressure wash, you’ll probably end up cleaning the whole driveway, otherwise these new super-clean spots will show up the dirt on the rest of the surface! Keep the wand moving so you don’t harm the concrete or the slabs.
With the right products and a decent amount of effort, you should be able to shift those nasty black stains.
How Do I Prevent Black Tire Marks On My Driveway?
One simple solution is never put a recently driven car on to your driveway! Tire marks often come from executing a maneuver such as a sharp turn into a tight parking space or garage when your tires are hot.
Instead, give your wheels time to cool down. Park next to the curb, pop inside with the shopping, greet the kids, make a coffee, whatever, and then go back outside and park your car properly on your driveway.
Avoid having to screech to a halt on your driveway by making sure kids and pets can’t suddenly appear. This is pretty much best practice anyway!
As well as sharp braking, turning the wheels when the vehicle is stationary can also leave tire marks on the surface of your driveway. So, don’t be tempted just to tweak the wheel to straighten up after you’ve parked.
If you’re having to make these tight turns to park your car, ask yourself whether there’s a better way of doing this or even an easier portion of driveway to park in. As well as preventing tire marks, this will make everyday life that bit easier.
If you have a garage or a carport, park your vehicle inside it in hot weather so the sun on the driveway surface doesn’t heat up your stationary tires. If you don’t have a garage, try to park in the coolest, shadiest place in the heat of summer.
Certain types of driveway, such as concrete, can be coated with a protective sealer. This will help to prevent stains from occurring. Don’t use your driveway until the sealer has fully cured, just in case. This isn’t 100% effective, but it’s generally a good idea to protect your driveway anyway.
So it seems I was wrong about the black marks on my neighbors driveway being from them screeching away in a hurry all the time.
It’s more likely they have high quality tires and they get hot on the way home from work – meaning they make the black lines when they pull back into the driveway in the evening.
I’m like a detective or something! Maybe after all this research I should tell them to park up by the curb until their tyres have cooled down – there could be a beer in it for me for helping with free advice! 🙂