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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 8:45 am 
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FAQ: tar sound insulation removal, sound proofing,tar, heat gun, propane torch, putty knife
Tools you'll need:
  • Heatgun or propane torch
  • Metal putty knife (one you don't ever want to use again, it'll turn black from tar, and get distorted/loose tempering from heat)
  • screwdrivers/panel pullers for interior panels
  • wrenches for seat bracket bolts
The tar sound insulation in under the carpet. You have to take a lot of your interior out to get the carpet loose: all the seats, center console, shifter boot, shift knob, e-brake housing, sill plates, and maybe some interior panels.
I've found that the tar insulation is adhered fairly well to the bodywork, sometimes you can break a chunk off with your bare hands or a chisel/screwdriver. But that's really rare. Prepare to use a heatgun, or like me, a propane torch and a metal putty knife. It's grueling, time consuming, smelly and messy work, but it's worth it in the end. Everytime I see a sheet of tar on sheet metal it looks at me and proclaims "Lihtan! get me off of here! Please!" :wink:
There are five major panels of tar: spare tire well, passenger seat/gas tank, driver's seat, passenger's seat, shifter tunnel. There's also two thinner pieces on the rear quarter panels
The tar has a working temperature when it's the most pliable and peels off cleanly. If it's too cold, it won't release it's grip from the metal and you'll waste a lot of energy trying to move it. If it's too hot, it'll soften too much and smear on the metal. If you get just right, it'll have a consistancy like thick putty or clay and peel off the metal with only a yellowish brown stain on the metal.
Before I start, you should do this outside with the doors and hatch open, also taking out all the interior is a good idea, so you don't risk singeing or staining the upholstery, it also gives you full access to all places the tar is hiding. You may also want to do what I did: remove one panel a day. The cleanup work takes just about as long as the tar removal.
To get started, fire up your torch and set it to full blast place the torch head a few inches (or closer) from the tar and wave it back and forth in spot, slowing moving across the panel until you've covered about a 6" x 12" area. You're trying to roast the surface to a medium-dark brown color (you'll be burning paint at this point). By the time you finish heating your square, the area you first heated should have absorbed enough heat to be soft enough to scrape off. Repeat until you've cleared off the whole panel of tar. Another method you can use for tough spots, or removal of bits of residue is to heat the blade of your putty knife directly with a torch, and then use that to scrape tar. Heating your blade will increase the chance of cutting through primer. (Suzuki painted over the tar, there's only primer under the sound insulation). Get a box, pail or bag to collect the pieces you remove and a rag to wipe the sludge from knife on.
Once you have a removed a whole section you can clean the remaining residue with brake cleaner. Wet an area and lightly scrape with your knife. Wipe with a rag and repeat. Brake cleaner instantly dissolves tar. The tar will start running with dark brown streaks the second brake cleaner touches it. Oh and make sure you've extinguished your torch before you start spraying brake cleaner.
The removed tar sound proofing is enough to fill three plastic grocery bags, and in total weighs 16 lbs. At this point you can congradulate yourself for perservering through such a hard-core weight removal process. I haven't had a chance to use a heat gun, but I would imagine it would give better heat control, and more consistant results.

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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 9:05 am 
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Older brake cleaner is non flamable. I believe the newer brake cleaners don't use Tri-Chlor (or similar) and have added some alchohol to make up for the loss of solubility (is that even a word?)

Read the label and be careful.

ed


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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 9:08 am 
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Several people really recommend using dry ice to make the tar brittle. A hammer blow cracks it right off.

However I have never spoken to anyone who has actually done it. Always a friend of a friend.

ed


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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2004 2:06 am 
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Lihtan wrote:
I've found that the tar insulation is adhered fairly well to the bodywork, sometimes you can break a chunk off with your bare hands or a chisel/screwdriver. But that's really rare. Prepare to use a heatgun, or like me, a propane torch and a metal putty knife. It's grueling, time consuming, smelly and messy work, but it's worth it in the end.


I guess I've been really lucky. I've done this on two cars ('84 Civic & '94 Metro) and the tar sheets came out with a screwdriver and a hammer. I just put the screwdriver at an angle and gently tapped it along with big chucks of crap flying everywhere. :)
I expected the Metro with newer tar to be more difficult, but it was easier than the brittle stuff in the older Civic. It almost peeled off by hand. If I had to use a torch, I probably wouldn't bother. The burning paint and hot tar sounds rather unpleasant.

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 10:32 pm 
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Lihtan wrote:
Prepare to use a heatgun


I'm not sure what a heatgun is. Would a hairdryer produce similar results?

I'm removing more and more of the interior just to see how I like the lightening effect, and to have a looky at the condition of the car underneath. So far it is totally like new where I can see but I haven't removed the carpet yet. When everything is out, I might have a stab at removing the sound deadener. To lose 16 lbs is awfully enticing, but I don't want to end up with a car that is radically different in terms of road noise when the carpet and everything else goes back in.

Lihtan, can you still see where you removed the tar sections and add up the square footage for me? I'm thinking of replacing the stuff with something that is lighter weight. But I need to know the lbs/sq. foot of the original tar to determine if there is anything out there that is substantially lighter. B-Quiet sells deadener that is about 1 lb for every 3 sq. feet.

Somehow, I doubt that the tar stuff makes much difference in the sound inside the car anyway because most of it is located near where things like seats are bolted on. My understanding is that the tar is supposed to supress vibrations of the metal it's attached to by adding mass where it is attached (and that is why the tar has to be heavy, I suppose). But wouldn't having seats bolted to that metal also dampen the vibrations?

Just removed the front passenger seat. Dang it's heavy!


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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 5:38 pm 
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Bosco wrote:

I'm not sure what a heatgun is. Would a hairdryer produce similar results?..

This is a heatgun:
Image
You can get them at any hardware store. You can get them cheaper from Princess Auto or your local pawnshop. It works just like a hair dryer, but it puts out enough heat to burn things. You'll find it produces a more controlled application of heat instead of using a propane torch. Because of the thickness of the tar, you need to apply enough heat to saturate the tar that's in contact with the metal. When I use a torch, I scorch the outer surface of the tar to a nice brown color, then wait about 30 seconds for the heat to soak through. I'm not sure if a hair dryer will put out enough heat. It may work, but expect it to take a while.

The tar is there mostly to kill panel vibrations. You'll find your interior panels will do a lot for surpressing road and wind noise.

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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 12:27 am 
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Thanks. I noticed a huge difference in road noise with just the rear seat removed. I'll see about borrowing a heat gun from the maintenance dept. where I work. If they don't have one, when the weather warms up I'll leave 'er in the sun and try a hair dryer. I'm going to leave the carpet in for now and try removing the piece at the spare tire well to start with.

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those really :censor: jobs, but I can't see how it could be any worse than drilling thousands of holes in thick sheet metal.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 7:09 pm 
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Lihtan wrote:
The removed tar sound proofing is enough to fill three plastic grocery bags, and in total weighs 16 lbs..


Does that include the little panels at the rear sides?

Canadian Tire has heat gun kits on sale for $18.99 this week, down from $54.99. Perfect timing :D

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 2:05 am 
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The ones on the sides panels are a little thinner, but they do add up. A note of caution on removing the sound proofing from the side of the vehicle: be careful with how much heat you apply to the tar on the sides, your vehicle's finished paint is on the other side of the metal. I accidently burned a spot of paint on my red car from letting the heat sit too long in one spot.

I grabbed a heat gun from the pawn shop the other week. It's a bit noisy, but I'm not complaining at $9.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 12:43 pm 
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Lihtan wrote:
your vehicle's finished paint is on the other side of the metal.


That's why I'm a bit leery 'bout going there. But the heat gun worked really well last night at removing the one at the spare tire well. It's a little slow, but safe. I was able to get the tar off without even burning the paint that was on top of it. There was hardly any smell at all. Once removed, that stuff sure is alot heavier than it looked when it was stuck to the car.

And now that the side beams are out of the door, I have access to the tar panels there as well :twisted:, but I'd be worried that taking off the vibration dampener there may cause the door to ring when shut. That violates the plan of preserving the original look and feel of the car.

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Last edited by Bosco on Wed Jun 15, 2005 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 1:48 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2005 2:02 am 
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I was using the heatgun recently to remove the last of the tar residue, and found it much easier to control the heat application versus using a torch. The nice thing is I can flip the switch off, set the gun down and not worry about where a flame is pointed. Another issue with the torch was that the off-gassing from the tar would sometimes starve the torch for oxygen and the flame would go out. Using a heatgun, it's also entirely possible to remove even the remaining residue without having to use solvent. Heat the panel nice and hot till the residue liquifies, then wipe it off with a rag. Using solvent to dissolve the residue is quicker, but it can get messy. I found that WD-40 or Liquid Wrench work well for residue removal, better than brake cleaner because they don't evaporate quickly.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2005 3:54 pm 
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Lihtan wrote:

There are five major panels of tar: spare tire well, passenger seat/gas tank, driver's seat, passenger's seat, shifter tunnel.


Really? After taking care of the two panels in the cargo/back seat area, I lifted the front seats and the carpet last night and found 6 more panels there, for a total of 8 :shock: In my car, there was one panel covering where each front seat and rear passengers' feet would go, and one panel where the front floor mats would go. Then there were two on the center tunnel, one behind the shifter and one in front of the shifter. The three forward panels reach up underneath the dash and actually extend beyond the border of the carpet and underneath about the first foot of firewall insulation. Last night, I removed a couple of panels and removed the rest this morning, but left the portion that goes up underneath the firewall insulation. That is going to be difficult - I will have to either remove the firewall insulation, which might require removal of the dash, or somehow tack the firewall insulation up out of the way so that I can get to the tar underneath. The upside of all this tar is that there is more weight to remove :twisted: I will weigh the stuff when it's all removed.

There is definitely a temperature where the tar is the easiest to work with. It is soft and pliable to pry off the metal underneath with some effort but is hard enough so that it doesn't stick to the putty knife/scraper. This morning, I had the routine down pat and was kind of enjoying it . No cleanup required; there's just a brown stain where the tar was and the carpet's going back in anyway.

Lihtan, did your car have the firewall insulation underneath/behind the dash? It is fairly thin black rubber surface backed by an inch or so of insulation, like the insulation that is the back of the carpet. If you have it, did you weigh it? I am wondering if it is worth the trouble of removing.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2005 3:42 am 
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My memory as to the exact number of panels is kinda hazy, I'm sure your count is correct. The piece of tar at the bottom of the firewall only goes up for a couple of inches, so it is possible to remove it all just by pulling the padding out the way (be careful not to set it on fire from the heat). In the process of removing my dash I did get rid of all the jute/rubber padding on the firewall as well. It's a rather substancial piece that covers most of the firewall (7 lbs of weight here). It's also applied at the factory before anything is mounted to the firewall. You can either strip the firewall bare, or just start chopping it out in pieces. Once you've removed all the padding you'll find another patch of tar hiding behind the heater core. This last and final piece of tar will require draining your coolant and removing the heater core if you want to remove that whole piece of tar.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2005 12:18 am 
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Whew, that was alot of work removing all those tar panels. Much more work and time than cutting the side impact beams out but not as intense or demanding (I used a Dremel-type rotary tool with the flex extension). Noticing the heat that comes off the center tunnel without the carpet and its insulation, I think I'll leave the firewall stuff where it is. With all that heat radiating into the interior, it's a good thing you're a skinny white boy :lol:

Lihtan wrote:
This last and final piece of tar will require draining your coolant and removing the heater core if you want to remove that whole piece of tar.


Now that is hard core :razz: Have you done it? Why not remove the heater core and bypass it? Without the firewall and floor insulated, you might not need a heater anymore :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2005 6:33 pm 
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Bosco wrote:
...Why not remove the heater core and bypass it? Without the firewall and floor insulated, you might not need a heater anymore :lol:


I haven't done it yet, but I may have to, as I'm also tracking down a coolant leak right now, and the heater core is my current suspect. For some reason my shifter tunnel doesn't get quite as warm as the one in the MK3. I've never really noticed any additional heat from not having any insulation over the firewall. If anything, the interior probably remains cooler now as there is no insulation to help trap heat anymore. For now, I'm gonna keep the heater core. Being a skinny white boy, I like having my heat. :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:35 pm 
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If you guys are doing the heat gun method, you are wasting way too much time.....

Wait for it to get cold. Below freezing. Then just smack the tar with a small ball peen hammer (or any other hard object) and the stuff will shatter like glass. If you are carefull, you can stick a chisel under it and pry it up as one piece.

I've done both methods. The heat gun took me about 1/2 and hour to remove the big piece in the rear. I did the entire rest of the car in 10 minutes with the "cold" method. The end result is also much nicer, no gloppy tar streaks or funky smells. You'll have to vacuum after this, though, as there will be tons of shards of tar all over the place.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:33 am 
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ehos wrote:
Image

Takes ZERO effort. Takes no time at all. Wear ear protection. (Use a 'flat' head on it, not the chiseled head).


Why use heat or anything else?

I'm telling you, there is no easier way. It takes minutes to get it ALL off.


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 Post subject: Tar Removal
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:33 am 
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I'm with Roy dean the cold method works great and requires the least effort. I used dry ice because I live in Texas and waiting for sub zero temps isn't an option but it was still faster than the chisel method and safer than the heat method. :!:

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 4:24 am 
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[quote="Roy Dean"]If you guys are doing the heat gun method, you are wasting way too much time.....

Wait for it to get cold. Below freezing. Then just smack the tar with a small ball peen hammer (or any other hard object) and the stuff will shatter like glass. If you are carefull, you can stick a chisel under it and pry it up as one piece.

:cheers: :yeahyeah :thumb2:

AMEN! I have done both methods as well,and the dry ice is the best! Heat gun gets the tar hot,and smears the remaining tar around,then you have to get a very strong cleaner to remove the residue :drunk: .At least with the cold method,it all came out,no residue. :cheers:

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 11:58 pm 
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Now I learn about the dry ice method after I torch out all my sound proofing... :thwack:

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 11:50 am 
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Lihtan wrote:
Now I learn about the dry ice method after I torch out all my sound proofing... :thwack:


Umm... May 20 2004?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 11:55 am 
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mcguirk wrote:
Lihtan wrote:
Now I learn about the dry ice method after I torch out all my sound proofing... :thwack:


Umm... May 20 2004?

That's when I composed this thread, most of my soundproofing was already out a while before then.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 4:08 pm 
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Duh, I comment like you weren't paying attention but in reality it was me who wasn't paying attention.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:37 pm 
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i love living in canada!!!! i just waited till winter and smashed the stuff with a hammer and it flew right off!!! much quicker and less stinky than the ol torch and spatchula routine! just my 0.2c

-rob

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