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Our 2012 3.6R Outback Limited is 9 months old with 7000 miles. in the recesses for the lug nuts and a bit on the outside wheel surface, there is a sticky black tar-like gunk. I can get a bit off with my fingernail and it is think and sticky, but not viscous.

What is it and how do I clean it? Warm soapy water and a rag helped some but only got about half of it.

A toothbrush got some but quickly filled up with the black gunk and became useless.
 

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2011,premium,2.5
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it could be road tar... but something that thick is the only thing that is coming to mind, try finding "OOPS!" or goo gone, from autozone, even simple green might help,just make sure that the oil bolt is on there when cleaning you dont want any of this inside lol
 

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2013 Outback - 3.6R Limited, EyeSight/Nav/MoonRoof/Kitchen Sink.
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Our 2012 3.6R Outback Limited is 9 months old with 7000 miles. in the recesses for the lug nuts and a bit on the outside wheel surface, there is a sticky black tar-like gunk. I can get a bit off with my fingernail and it is think and sticky, but not viscous.

What is it and how do I clean it? Warm soapy water and a rag helped some but only got about half of it.

A toothbrush got some but quickly filled up with the black gunk and became useless.
Brake dust gone wild. This stuff eats break dust's lunch:

http://www.meguiarsdirect.com/product_detail.do?q=4625&promoCode=MEGFGS49WEBPAYPC&kw={keyword}&gclid=CKeh77Se9bICFQsGnQodHWkANQ

And its pretty good to your paint, too.
 

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2012 2.5i Premium CVT
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921 Posts
I had that black gunk around my lugnuts also. Not sure where it comes from, but it comes off with Goo Gone.
 

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Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, 5.7 Hemi, Tow IV Package
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It is left over from assembly or transport. Possibly some sort of goo they use to keep the lug nuts in the tool before they are installed. Pop 'em off one at a time and wipe with WD40. You can clean the recess as well. No need to jack up the car if you do 1 a time.
 

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I would like to know for sure too, my 2011 Outback had it since new, I think I had recently just go rid of the last of it lol. Just got a new 2013 WRX and the wheels have this stuff all over them. I'm sure it is some sort of protectant for the wheel finish or lube for the lug nuts. IMO the factory QC should have done a better job cleaning it up , same for the dealer PDI.
 

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2011 Outback 2.5i Premium, CVT, Steel Silver, all-weather package. Upgrades: Tweeter kit, BlueConnect, media hub, remote start, Curt 2" receiver hitch.
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I 2nd the WD40. My VW came with LOTS of this wax... And WD40 removed it easily. It won't hurt your paint or your wheels.
 

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Mine had it too. I assume from assembly. Removed with brake parts cleaner (with each lug removed from the car one at a time). Nasty stuff. Had similar stuff on the rear hatch hinges and on the sides where the gas cylinders attach to the body on the rear hatch. Used GooGone there, brake cleaner will remove paint.
 

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2019 Forester Sport. Love the Orange.
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Mine had it too. I assume from assembly. Removed with brake parts cleaner (with each lug removed from the car one at a time). Nasty stuff. Had similar stuff on the rear hatch hinges and on the sides where the gas cylinders attach to the body on the rear hatch. Used GooGone there, brake cleaner will remove paint.
I found it under the hood in spots as well as those you mention. Quite a bit of it around the door hinges too. I used WD40 and found later that regular car wax will work too. Mine was yellowish when new but turned black very quickly on lugs from brake dust. A lot like bees wax.
 

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2011,premium,2.5
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its from the air, the wheels are designed to scrub the smog from air,when the wheels turn it forces air around the lugs and then separates the air and smog leaving a goo around the lugs like a trap, SCIENCE RULZ!


WARNING: this was a joke..... they don't do this.... ha ha ha.....

but really i wou
 

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doesn't matter. brake cleaner or carb cleaner will remove it easily.

Just not around the hinges....Brake cleaner will remove the paint. Don't ask me how I know. :(
 

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Claybar helped, but Goo Gone worked like a charm. Afterwards, clean up the wheels and put some way on to help reduce brake dust.

-Michael
 

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2012 Outback Premium, 2.5 CVT,
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Nomad
I think this stuff is like cosmoline.
We had it ours as well. I used WD 40, it does come off fairly easily.
They clean up real nice!
Good Luck
 

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2011 Subie 3.6R Limited 2013 Cmax e=nergi PHEV
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still got some black shmutz on my lugs after 35k miles. makes me feel like the car is still new.
 

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2008 Subaru Tribeca
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Transportation they put plastic on the rims. It gets taken off when the cars pdi'd(ready for sale). When they clean it they are supposed to wipe it off with degreaser but don't. So after driving break dust sticks to it. Trust me I work at a dealership and it sucks doing a rotate and having the lug nuts stick to your sockets.
 

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I purchased a 2013 Subaru Outback and did my first 7500 mile tire rotation. The black gunk was on each lug and on the wheels. What a pain to get off. It came off ok. I have never had a new car with this gunk on the wheels. Next Subaru I buy I will have to inspect it better before delivery.
 

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2013 Outback 3.6L Limited with EyeSight
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I purchased a 2013 Subaru Outback and did my first 7500 mile tire rotation. The black gunk was on each lug and on the wheels. What a pain to get off. It came off ok. I have never had a new car with this gunk on the wheels. Next Subaru I buy I will have to inspect it better before delivery.
Same exact problem here.
 
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