A Detailed Guide For Cleaning Tree Sap Off Your Car

North America will soon be filled with refreshing, cool air all around in the late fall season, which will calm everything down and bring a serene atmosphere around you. However, the same will also bring some inconvenience as well as the trees fall off and land on your vehicle. Whether there is a tree or not around where your car is parked, it will find its way regardless!

Tree sap is great for trees but is a pain for everyone else especially car owners. The sticky substance is hard to remove and requires harsh chemicals like tar and bug remover, which will harm your paint job like anything. That being said, there do exist some easy, creative ways to remove the tree sap and protect your car’s paint job from these ‘emissions’ from the nearby trees.

Today’s article is here to provide you a guide to removing sap off your car easily. And yes, we are fully aware of how important it is for you to protect the car from any exposure to bird crap, tree sap, bug guts, and what not!

How Does Tree Sap Damage Your Car’s Paint Job?

Firstly, tree sap is highly acidic in nature. Nevertheless, many people are confused between tree sap and tree resin. There are two different forms of tree sap, which is emitted from the water, soil, and trunk of the tree and is then distributed through its leaves. The sap has some sugars that give life to the tree as they are essential for its food. And yes, these sugars are also great to damage the paint job on your ride.

Meanwhile, tree resin is composed differently. It acts more of a protective agent against insect attacks and infections for the tree. Either way, both of these cause the car paint, headlights, plastic trim, and other components of your car to damage like anything.

The tree resin or sap won’t damage your vehicle surface initially, but since these have various acids and sugars in them, if ignored they will start eating your surface up. And when this begins to happen, it etches through discoloring, stains, and many other problems.

How to Avoiding Tree Sap?

There is no magic number found yet for how quickly should tree sap be removed, as the substance exists in various concentrations and should be removed right when you see it.

The best and most obvious way of avoiding tree sap is not to park under or near trees. If you live or work somewhere, where the only option is parking under a tree, use a vehicle cover.

Steps to Remove Tree Sap from Car

Lets now dig in the main part of this post. Removing tree sap depends on the concentration and grade of the sap, though it can be broken down using a bug and tar remover or rubbing alcohol. However, this is where many vehicle owners just walk away and the real damage begins thereafter.

These removers are not good for the clear coat and other components of your vehicle. They have high acid concentrations and will cause further damage if the area they are used on isn’t washed and dried as well.

Products Required to Remove Tree Sap

So, here we have jotted down some simple steps to remove tree sap off your vehicle surface:

  • Microfiber towels
  • Rubbing alcohol or bug and tar remover
  • Box cutter blade to remove tree sap on glass
  • Car washing supplies

Step 1: Wash The Whole Vehicle

To begin with, wash the whole vehicle. There is a great chance that tree sap is present only on small areas of the car surface, so the best way out is cleaning the entire surface of your car. All the loose material and even sap at times will be removed by this.

Step 2: Dry the Vehicle

Next up, dry the whole vehicle now. Your car surface will get water spots if standing water droplets are left to dry just like that, so use some microfiber towels to pat dry the entire vehicle.

Step 3: Locate Area of Tree Sap

Once done with the first two steps, locate the target area of tree sap. If you have some painters tape at your disposal, use some near that area and follow the same for the whole vehicle. The most ideal situation is knowing where exactly all the tree sap is before you move to the removal step.

Step 4: Remove the Tree Sap Using Rubbing Alcohol and Bug Remover

Now, you will be removing sap from the whole car.  You can use two products to do so, namely rubbing alcohol and bug and tar remover. If you have to remove the sap from metal, the best thing to use is rubbing alcohol which works great on it. For chrome, plastic trim and other materials, bug and tar remover is a smarter option.

Sap Removal Process:

The sap removal process should be carried out as follows:

  • Pour a few drops of whichever cleaning product you use on a microfiber towel.
  • Now dab this towel on the tree sap and let it sit for 30 seconds so the product is soaked in the sap.
  • Now slowly rub this area till the sap goes away completely. You may have to repeat the process a few times in some cases, and this is where your patience is tested. You may also need some elbow grease or fingernail to scratch away the sap.

Many blogs and articles suggest using some spray wax on the cleaned area. But there is a problem, the wax covers up any residues of the cleaning product which may end up eating your surface eventually. To avoid this, simply wash the areas again followed by drying them.

If a PPF or ceramic coating isn’t present in your car, you may have to apply the paint sealant or car wax on the affected area again. You can also use a DIY ceramic coating on your vehicle so the tree sap is removed easily if the problem happens again.

What to do With Tree Sap on Windows and Windshields?

It is not just the painted surface where the tree sap land, rather some of it will also come on to stick on your windows and windshield. In this case, do not use the windshield wipers as the sticky substance will spread everywhere and embed it in the wipers as well.

Simply follow the steps prescribed above if you have tree sap on windows or windshields, except for the prewash step. If the sap accumulated is very hard, use a box cutting razor to scrape off the stubborn stuff first, followed by using a cleaner to get rid of the rest. Use a glass cleaner at the end.

Will a Ceramic Coating Help Protect My Car from Tree Sap?

Stuff like bird droppings, tree sap, bug guts, and other sticky items are very difficult to be removed. However, your stress can be reduced significantly by applying a ceramic coating on the car surface. This coating provides a flat, ultra slippery surface which is highly hydrophobic. This makes it very difficult for any sticky substances to get stuck on this thin protective layer.

If the ceramic coating is applied appropriately, the surface underneath is also protected. Bird droppings, tree sap, and other stuff will stain your car’s plastic trim, paint, and event the glass windows and windshield. The coating will in most cases last for some years to come.

To protect the paint, it is a great thing to do especially if you are forced to park under the trees. This coating not just protects the paint, but can be applied to almost everything easily!