Tree sap on your vehicle is a major pain.
This goopy mess can damage your car if it’s left to harden because it glues itself to your vehicle’s paint job. As sap dries, it also shrinks, and that creates tension that will eventually crack your car’s clear coat or paint.
That’s why you should remove tree sap from your car as soon as you notice it. Here’s the thing though…if removed incorrectly, tree sap can cause a lot of damage; even more than if you had just left it alone.
Make sure to follow our 3 tips to clean up the mess without hurting your vehicle.
1. Start with a Pre-Wash
Before you try scraping off the tree sap, make sure you give your car a thorough wash. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Make sure to hand wash—this is not the time for a touchless car wash.
- Wash in a shaded area (you don’t want the water to dry quickly in the sun).
- Use a sponge or washing mitt to GENTLY scrub the sap.
- Rinse and repeat!
- Gently dry with a rag, making sure to lightly pat the sappy spots.
Following these steps might not be enough to remove the sap entirely, but you should be able to get rid of most of it. Keep reading to find out what to do next.
2. Soften the Sap
There may still be some residue left after a nice wash; that’s when it’s time to soften the sap and give it a soak.
There are tons of commercial products that you can use to soften tree sap, but we find that good old-fashioned rubbing alcohol is a great solution.
Just drench a piece of paper towel and lightly dab the tree sap. Avoid a wiping motion, as it could end up leaving a mark or actually scraping the paint. You might be tempted to put in a lot of muscle to try to scrub off the sap, but let the rubbing alcohol do its job.
Pro Tip: Has this tree sap hardened for a long period of time? If yes, use something stronger, like WD40 or lighter fluid, to soak the sap. Apply the product and leave it on your car until you can see the sap start to break down.
3. Try Scraping off the Sap
If Steps 1 & 2 didn’t work, we have one more idea for you. You can try to scrape off any remaining residue.
This is something that you should only attempt if you’re confident you won’t scrape your car’s paint job AND you’ve already soaked the sap with rubbing alcohol.
Some people will just use their fingernails, but let’s face it… that could be painful. Instead, use a razor blade, utility knife, or flathead screwdriver as your scraping device. Wiggle the edge of your tool underneath the sap and slowly pull it away from your car’s surface.
We can’t stress this enough: scraping off tree sap should be a last resort.
Need somewhere to get the job done? Hughes has self-service bays in your area! Find your Hughes location today.