Learning how to correctly remove tree sap from your car can save you a lot of frustration, and also help preserve your vehicle’s finish over time. Sap isn’t terribly destructive to your car or truck’s paint, as long as you attend to it relatively quickly. If you let it sit for an extended period, it can etch its way into your paint job and cause significant headaches from a repair perspective. Here’s how to remove tree sap from your vehicle in four easy steps:
Step 1: Wash Your Car
It is vital that the area around the sap is clean before you attempt to remove it. So, begin by washing the dirty area with a standard car detergent, and then dry it off afterwards. Don’t try to force the sap off your paint during this process, as you run the risk of damaging it.
Step 2: Use Tar and Sap Removal Product
Because it’s such an unusual substance, you’ll need to use a specialized product when attempting to remove tree sap from your car. There are some people who may suggest you to use rubbing alcohol to remove sap, but this is generally too harsh for the paint on your vehicle. Other people prefer cleaners that require that you apply them, and then wait between 30 seconds or a minute before trying to scrub off the sap.
Step 3: Move to a Polish
If cleaning products didn’t work, don’t worry: you can try to remove sap using a gentle automotive polish. Polish works by removing a thin layer of clear coat from a car’s paint, and it allows you to scrub off sap without doing any damage. Apply the polish to a clean cloth and work it into the sap using small circular motions. The sap should generally come off a little bit at a time until it has completely disappeared.
Step 4: Wax
Applying a coat of wax after you have removed the tree sap, is important for two reasons. If you used polish to remove the sap, then you’ll want to use wax to protect the newly exposed paint. Wax is also helpful because it serves as a barrier between your car’s finish and any future sap encounters, which will limit the amount of damage that can be done by this sticky substance.
Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to remove tree sap from your car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.