While they don’t affect the structure, longevity or quality of the driveway, tire marks and scuffs can make your driveway look unsightly. They can also impact the value of your home if you are trying to sell.
In this post we tackle this issue of tire marks on the driveway. We discuss why they occur, how to clean driveway tire marks and how to prevent them from getting there in the first place.
What You'll Learn Today
Why Do Tires Leave Marks on the Driveway?
When you are driving on the road, especially on a hot day, the tires heat up. Tires contain plasticizer, a material that improves the elasticity and flexibility of the rubber. When the tires get hot, the plasticizer becomes softer and some of it transfers to the driveway or garage floor.
So a vehicle that just came in from the street on a hot day can leave tire marks on the driveway, especially if it is a heavy vehicle.
By the way, this has nothing to do with tire quality. In fact, higher quality tires contain more plasticizer and are more likely to leave unsightly marks.
The other common cause of tire marks on the driveway is friction. If a vehicle or motorcycle takes off really quickly or screeches to a halt, the friction between the tires and the concrete will cause tire marks. This can also happen if a vehicle turns sharply.
Sometimes, tire marks are not entirely the fault of the vehicle. Tire marks on asphalt roads and driveways can be caused by oils in the asphalt.
As the vehicle brakes, accelerates or turns on the surface, the heat from friction causes bituminous oils in the asphalt to melt and rise to the surface.
New asphalt driveways tend to scuff more easily. As the asphalt cures and hardens, it becomes more resistant to tire marks.
Do Tire Marks on the Driveway Go Away?
Yes, tire marks on the driveway can go away but not on their own. Sometimes, mild tire marks can fade and disappear in a few weeks or months as rain and traffic wear them away.
But most tire marks can last a very long time – months or years. And as new ones form, your driveway could become permanently scarred by black lines.
The good news is that you can get rid of the tire marks a lot sooner by cleaning them off. How easy it is to get rid of tire marks depends on several factors:
- The age of the tire marks. Older marks will be tougher to remove.
- The extent of the marks. If your driveway is riddled with them, expect to spend more money, time and effort getting rid of them.
- The type of driveway. Tire marks on a sealed concrete driveway are much easier to wash off.
5 Ways to Clean Driveway Tire Marks
1. Soap and Water
If the tire marks are fresh, you just might be able to wash them off with just soap and water. The trick is to clean them as quickly as possible before they settle into the driveway.
Squirt dish soap or laundry detergent directly onto the tire marks and let it sit for a few minutes. Pour hot water onto the tire marks and scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse off with clean water and see if the marks have disappeared.
You may need to scrub a couple more times to completely get rid of them.
You can also try using an all-purpose outdoor cleaner like Simple Green. It can work on tougher driveway tire marks. Here’s a great video on how to use Simple Green to get tire marks off a concrete driveway.
2. Pressure Washer / Power Washer
A pressure washer can remove some tire marks. The risk with using a pressure washer is damaging the concrete driveway.
So if you use a pressure washer, avoid the 0-degree nozzle and keep a good distance from the concrete surface.
To get better results, we recommend using a pressure washer along with a cleaner or detergent. It can be dish soap, an all-purpose cleaner, a degreaser or bleach. First apply the cleaner on the tire marks and let it sit for 5-10 minutes then come in with the pressure washer.
Alternatively, add pressure washer detergent to the pressure washer and spray it onto the driveway. Using a surface cleaner attachment will improve your chances of removing tire marks with the pressure washer.
If you don’t have a surface cleaner, scrub the tire marks for a bit before coming in with the pressure washer.
If you are dealing with extra-stubborn tire marks, consider renting a power washer for a day. The hot water will be more effective at loosening the tire marks.
A degreaser is the go-to solution for many driveway stains whether it’s oil, brake fluid or tire marks. Degreasers do an excellent job loosening petroleum-based stains, making it easier for you to scrub them off.
Look for a highly rated degreaser that’s proven to work. Apply it on the tire marks then leave it for the recommended time.
Finish by scrubbing the tire marks out with water and a stiff brush and then rinsing. Depending on how stubborn the tire marks are, you may need to apply the degreaser and scrub several times. You can also try an industrial strength degreaser.
Bleach is another great solution for hard-to-remove tire marks. Mix bleach with water in a 1:4 ratio. Then apply the mixture onto the tire marks. You can use a spray bottle for easier application.
Let the bleach work its magic for about 10 minutes (re-spray 2-3 times to keep it from drying out). Scrub the tire marks using soapy water and then rinse with plain water.
Be careful what kind of bleach you are using. Regular chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is not safe for use on a painted driveway especially if it is not sealed. It can cause discoloration.
For painted concrete, use oxygen bleach instead. It will lift the tire marks without discoloring the driveway.
Resurfacing involves removing the top layer of a concrete driveway using a grinder. It is unlikely that you’ll need to get to this point. One of the above methods, or a combination of them, should work.
We recommend resurfacing only if you have extensive tire marks plus a myriad of other stains that have built up over the years. You can resurface the entire driveway (especially if it is old and needs a refresh anyway) or just the affected portion.
After resurfacing, add a concrete resurfacer then seal it.
How to Prevent Tire Marks on the Driveway
Tire marks can be difficult to avoid during the summer. It’s not like you can park on your lawn until the tires cool down.
The best solution is to make your driveway more resistant to tire marks. If you have not yet sealed your driveway, do it as soon as possible.
An epoxy coating creates a hard and smoother surface on your concrete or asphalt driveway. Because it generates less friction with tires, tire marks and scuffs do not form easily on the driveway.
And even when they occur, they are much easier to clean off. That’s because the impenetrable epoxy sealer prevents stains from settling deep into the concrete where they are difficult to remove.
With an epoxy coated driveway, warm soapy water and a stiff nylon brush is often enough to get rid of tire marks.
Here are some additional tips to prevent tire marks on your driveway.
- Be more gentle when taking off from or stopping on your driveway. Also avoid making sharp turns.
- Do not let heavy vehicles on your driveway. Many driveway tire marks are often caused by heavy work trucks bringing in materials and parking or turning on the driveway. Ask the contractor or supplier to park on the street then find a way to bring the materials inside.
- If you have a new asphalt driveway, give it enough time to cure before driving or parking on it. Contractors generally recommend waiting at least 2 days, but a week is better. If possible, wait a month. This will reduce the risk of tire scuffs on the new asphalt driveway.
- After a long drive on a hot day, park your vehicle on the curb (if it’s legal in your area) and let the tires cool down before driving it inside your home.
- When it’s hot, park your vehicle inside the garage or under a shade to keep the tires from heating up too much.