How to get sap off a car — most effective ways
Remove stubborn sap from your car's surface with these effective solutions.
Parking a car outside exposes it to the elements, and if you live in wooded areas, tree sap stains are a common sight.
Although it is seemingly simple, a tree sap stain is bad news for most drivers. Tree sap hardens with exposure to air. So, the longer it stays on a surface, the harder it becomes, which spells trouble for a car’s paint.
If you live in an area prone to tree sap falling on your vehicle, you must wonder what you can do to save the exterior look of your car. A must-have for you is alcohol or mineral spirits. They soften the sap and make it easier to wipe off without affecting your vehicle.
There are other alternatives you can use besides alcohol for tree sap removal. This article will show why sap on cars is such a big deal and how to deal with it.
How can sap affect your car?
Sap oozing from cut or bruised trees is a common problem during sunny days and freezing nights. Some trees are an exception, like pine trees which will ooze out sap even in the winter.
When released, tree sap shrinks as they lose moisture to the sunny weather. On your car, this shrinkage strengthens the bond the sap is making with the surface. The harder the sap, the more potentially damaged your car is.
Sap shrinkage stresses your car’s finish, eventually cracking it. It can eat off the paint, leaving an unpleasing aesthetic look and making you spend money on car paint. Even with ceramic coat benefits and other paint protection methods, it’s still a huge issue that requires patience and proper dealing with the situation.
Other environmental threats to your car’s looks
The next big thing to look out for in your car is bird poop. They work the same way the tree sap does on your vehicle. The longer you leave it sitting there, the more serious the damage.
Aside from tree sap and bird poop, insects also threaten your car’s appearance and outer body. They sometimes tend to lay rows of their tiny eggs on cars which the sun scorches when up. The heat decomposes the eggs, leaving marks on your car’s finishing or etches.
The recent formula for car paint and finishing has designs that give greater resistance to all these natural assaults, including acid rain. However, nobody likes moving around with tree sap and bird poop sitting on his bonnet. Also, excellent resistance does not imply complete immunity.
How do you remove sap from a car?
Procrastination is one thing you should avoid when removing sap from a car. The sooner, the better. Here are simple steps you can use to remove sap from a car:
Wash your car
Now is a good delivery time if you’ve meant to give your car a thorough wash. Else, you can clean the area surrounding the sap-infested place and make sure the site is free from dirt, grime, and sediments. If you have a severe case where strategic parts of your car have tree sap all over, you should wash the whole car. If you park your car in an area surrounded by trees, you may wonder – how often should you wash your car?
After washing the whole car with ordinary water and soap, use warm water on the affected areas. Warm water helps with deep cleansing and prepares the site for a clean removal process.
Dab alcohol on the sap spots
Take a clean cloth or rag and dab some rubbing alcohol onto it. Rub this cloth on the tree sap. If you arrest the situation early enough, this alcohol may be all you need to remove the sap without damaging your car.
If the sap is still fresh and a bit gooey, dab the alcohol cloth with rising motions on the car’s surface. With a little effort, you should be able to lift most of the stuff away.
If the sap is semi-solid, leaving the alcohol-soaked cloth on it for a while might do the trick. However, if alcohol is not potent enough for the sap, you can proceed to the next step.
If you don’t have alcohol, you can use vinegar as a substitute. Where vinegar is also absent, alcohol-based hand sanitizer will work just as well. You can also use a nail polish remover to remove mild tree sap stains, as it contains alcohol.
In the absence of a clean cloth or rag, apply them on a paper towel. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can apply the sanitizer or nail polish remover to the sap with your fingers. Using hands and paper towels mainly works for minor sap stains, which can get tiring for more extensive stretches of sap stains.
Use a specialized tree sap removal product
When alcohol does not work, get a specialized tree sap removal product from an automobile hardware store. You must be careful with these products because some are strong enough to discolor or remove your paint.
To be sure of how powerful the product is, use it on some obscure part of your car and observe the paint. If nothing happens to the color, you can use it liberally on an extended area, especially surrounding the sap-infested area. If it affects the paint in any way, you must apply caution.
The longer the tree sap stays on your vehicle, the stronger the product you will need to break the bonds the sap and car body have formed. Depending on how long the sap stayed, you may often need to paint that area afterward.
Clean with soap and water
After cleaning with alcohol or specialized tree-sap removal products, you should clean the area with soap and water. That ensures the cleaning residue and heat do not fuel any further reaction that may damage your car.
These steps above also work for removing bird poop and insect eggs.
How do you remove sap from a car window?
Car windows are a delicate matter. Unlike the body, which can hide a scratch or two, the window will put it on full display. In this case, it is best to catch the sap early.
If the sap is fresh, follow the same alcohol-cleaning step described above. Instead of using soap and water at the end, use car window cleaning solutions afterward. Having vinegar-based window cleaners is a big plus; you can use them to clean small sap stains and bird poop.
However, if the sap is found large and hardened and won’t yield to rubbing alcohol, it becomes a tricky situation. If you believe in your abilities with a box cutter, you can use that to scrape away significant chunks from the window before applying the alcohol to the small remaining sap. You have to take extreme care not to scratch the window itself too.
If you’re not a legend on handling the box cutter, leave isopropyl rubbing alcohol in a cloth on the stain. Replenish the cloth with the alcohol at regular intervals until the sap gets dissolved completely. It might take a whole day and cause you not to use your car. But it is still a much better alternative to risking it all with a box cutter and an unsteady grip.
Can baking soda remove tree sap from a car?
Baking soda has mild alkalinity in water. Consequently, it can clean much stubborn sticky stuff, including tree sap.
All you need do is to make the baking soda and water into a paste which you apply to the sap. In a few hours, the paste should dissolve them from your car. More hardened and stubborn tree saps will need a periodic reapplication as the baking soda removes the sap layer by layer. When it’s all gone, clean the surface with warm water and soap.
Can waxing my car protect my car paint from sap stains?
Frequent sap stains can make the affected parts age faster than others. Waxing your car is a great way to protect your car paint from environmental factors, including the weather and the sun’s UV rays.
Car wax acts like a protective layer above the paint, reducing paint aging and keeping it safe from most scratches, abrasions, and cracking. Waxing your car at regular intervals will be an excellent investment if you live in an area notorious for tree sap, bird, and insect droppings on cars. Your vehicle will remain aesthetically pleasing for more extended periods.
Sap on cars is never a pleasant sight, and we have given simple methods which you can use to clean sap and other intrusions from the environment, like bird poop and insect eggs, in this article. Furthermore, waxing your car can help reduce your worries about tree sap or cleaning agent discoloring or removing your car paint.
So, next time you go for a holiday in the countryside, keep a bottle of alcohol, hand sanitizer, a bit of baking powder, or even nail polish remover in your car, just in case. You can also get a specialized tree-sap removal product if the area is notorious for tree sap decoration on vehicles.
Will sap eventually come off the car?
If you do nothing about it, sap might eventually come off your car, leaving the affected and surrounding areas discolored, cracked, and rusted. It is not wise to leave tree sap to come off independently.
Does vinegar get sap off the car?
White vinegar can get sap off the car. Before application, it is best to remove bulging parts of the sap using a box cutter to clean the sap sitting directly on the car’s surface.
Can WD40 remove tree sap?
Yes, the WD40 can remove tree sap. Spray it all over the affected area, leave it for some time, and then clean it with a cloth. You may have to repeat the process several times for more extensive and hardened tree sap patches.
How do you get thick sap off a car?
You can remove fresh thick sap by dabbing it away with alcohol. Dried thick saps will require a lot of patience if you use alcohol to clean them. Alternatively, you can use a box cutter to cut off big chunks and leave something alcohol can easily clean. To save time and energy, you can use a specialized tree sap remover to dissolve the thick sap from your car.
Which trees are notorious for sap production and assault?
Maple, elm, and birch trees are notorious for sap production, and it is best to stay clear of them. Generally, avoid parking under these particular trees in the summer.