Image of car being hand washed

How to Remove Tree Sap from Your Auto Body?

Spring is upon us which means blooming flowers, warmer climates, and sprouting leaves on treetops. But this also means an excess of environmental hazards. While trees are integral to our ecosystem – providing us with oxygen and stunning views – they can be detrimental to your car’s auto body. When you park your car under a tree, you may come back to find a sticky substance coating the body. This is oftentimes assumed to be tree sap; however, it could also be insect honeydew that’s excreted by aphids living in the tree’s branches and leaves. Composed of sugar and other waste products that pass through the bodies of these insects, it can be a pain to remove without damaging your car’s paint. Whether it’s tree sap or bug excretion, the trick is to remove these sticky substances immediately. If left to harden, it becomes increasingly damaging to your auto body and is far more difficult to remove. Here’s what to do:

1.    Start with a Basic Wash

It may not be surprising that the first step to remove tree sap from your auto body is to simply wash your car. While simple, it’s a very valuable habit to get into to upkeep the look of your car paint. In general, regular car washes are the key to avoiding environmental surface damage to your vehicle. It’s true that tree sap is particularly pesky; however, any type of residue that’s left to sit on your car could cause your paint job to suffer greatly.

Much debris can be removed with a concoction of soap and warm water but make sure you avoid any abrasive materials. Only use a soft washcloth to wipe your car after any debris has been removed. The last thing you want is to buff gravel, sand, or dust particles into the auto body so, before you remove any tree sap, wash your car to minimize the chances of scratching the car paint.

2.    Use a Tree Sap Removal Product

After you’ve washed your car, you can apply a tree sap removal product. While there are specialty products on the market, there are a variety of household products that can also be used. For example, if the tree sap has had a chance to harden, products like bacon grease, WD40, lighter fluid, and nail polish remover containing acetone have been known to cut through the sap when left to sit.

However, let’s say you’re using a specialty tree sap removal product. Pay close attention to the instructions on the bottle as some may harbour different practices. Typically, the use is as follows: you’ll want to apply the formula onto a soft, clean cloth and place it over the affected spot, allowing it to soak for about 30 seconds. After having time to soak, the sap should begin to break down and you can use that same cloth to rub the area in a circular motion, lifting the sap from the car’s surface. While doing this, a soft touch is key. Gentle, controlled motions will prevent you from smearing the softened sap to other areas of your auto body. Repeat this process until all the sap has been removed.

Keep in mind, you can also use a fingernail to gently lift the softened sap, however, you should never scratch at it. This could damage the car paint and leave you with a worse situation than you started with.

3.    Rinse, Dry, Wax

Once your auto body is sap free, you’ll want to give your car a thorough rinse. It may even be a good idea to do a full soap wash again to remove any residue left from the tree sap removal process. This ensures that your car is primed and ready for the final steps of drying and waxing. Due to all the washing, any protective wax that was previously applied to your car would have been removed. It’s important to re-apply this promptly as it adds a layer of protection to your car paint – not to mention the lustrous shine it adds to your auto body overall.

When all said and done, you can always bring your car into our trusted auto body shop in Vancouver and Richmond. While DIYing your sap removal is an option, a quick stop by our shop can ensure no damage was inflicted to your car’s auto body in the process. Book your appointment today for auto body repair, car painting, dent removal, and more.