Having large shade trees is a great way to increase the value of your property, but the downside is that large shade trees can also reduce the value of your car if you don’t remove the tree sap from your car in a timely manner. If you leave it for too long, tree sap can eat right through the paint work on your car, so you want to remove it sooner rather than later.
But how do you remove tree sap without damaging the paint even more? Read on, and we will tell you how to do it without damaging your car.
The time required to remove tree sap varies with the time of year, the quality of the protective wax layer on your car, and of course, the amount of tree sap to be removed. Generally speaking, the hotter it is the more tree sap sticks to a car, and if the car has not been polished for a while, it can become really difficult to remove the sap because it sticks better to rough, or un-waxed surfaces.
Sometimes tree sap can be removed relatively easily, but as stated above, the degree of difficulty can vary from very easy, to extremely difficult and time consuming.
Some types of tree sap is extremely resistant to commercial solvents and remedies, so if you are going to try products that are not specially recommended for tree sap removal, try some of the product on an inconspicuous part of the car.
Some solvents might dissolve the paint along with the tree sap, or it might stain the paint in the worst possible way, so take great care not to use any product without testing it to see that it won’t damage the pain work.
You will need:
- Clean micro-fiber towels.
- New box cutter blade(s) (Use on glass only!)
- Proprietary tar and bug remover. (Eg. Turtle Wax Tar and Bug Remover)
- Commercial tree sap remover. (Available from larger auto parts stores.)
- Nail polish remover.
- WD-40 spray.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Hot water and wash mitt or sponge.
- Car polish.
As a first step, wash the car with the hottest water you can tolerate. This may not remove the tree sap, but it will soften it, making it easier to remove by other methods.
Pour some bug remover on a clean micro-fiber towel, and press the damp towel onto the spot of tree sap. Allow about 30 seconds or so for the chemical to penetrate the sap, and then rub the area gently to loosen the sap further.
If the sap is not older than a day or so, this method should remove it, but avoid using excessive pressure. If you press too hard, you may scratch the paint, or worse, spread the sap over a larger area. If the sap is stubborn, you may have to repeat this step several times. If this does not work, proceed to Step 3.
You may have to call in the big guns if step 2 had no effect, but bear in mind that there are dozens of commercial tree sap removers on the market, and that some work a lot better than others do.
Nonetheless, commercial tree sap removers are designed specifically to remove tree sap, but before you use it, soften the tree sap with some hot water to make it easier for the chemical to penetrate the spot, and to break the chemical bond between the sap and the paint.
Apply some remover to a clean part of the towel, and allow about 30 seconds or so for it to penetrate the sap before starting to rub over the area. With some luck, the stronger solvent will have started loosening the sap, so if it did, repeat the process until all the sap is removed.
Unfortunately, some types of tree sap will resist even purpose-made chemicals, and if this is the case, you need to try other methods. However, while some household products may remove stubborn tree sap, none are designed for the purpose, so you run the real risk of damaging the paint work in attempts to remove the sap.
The items listed below are known to remove stubborn sap, but test each on an inconspicuous part of your car first to ensure you don’t add to your troubles.
- Nail varnish remover:
Soften the sap with some hot water, and apply some nail varnish remover to the spot with a clean towel. Allow to penetrate, and rub the area to see if it works. If it does, keep on softening the sap with hot water before applying more solvent. Repeat the process until all the sap is removed.
If nail polish remover does not work, soften the sap with some hot water again. Spray some WD-40 directly onto the sap, and allow to penetrate for about five minutes. Gently wipe the area to remove the loosed sap, and repeat the process until all the sap has been removed.
- Hand sanitizer:
If WD-40 does not fully remove the sap, soften the sap with some hot water again, and apply a small amount of hand sanitizer directly to the sap. Allow a few minutes for the sanitizer to penetrate before using a micro-fiber towel to gently rub the sap from the paint. Repeat the process until all the sap has been removed.
There is an excellent chance that by having used all, or any of the methods listed above, you have removed all of the tree sap from your car. So to avoid a repeat of the process, wash the entire car again to remove all traces of solvents, hand sanitizer, and other substances. Finish the job off by applying a generous coat of good quality car polish that will leave a tough and durable protective layer behind.
Tree sap does not stick to waxy surfaces as tenaciously as it does to un-waxed surfaces, which will save you lot of time in the future. One other thing you could try is not to park your car under large trees, but then again, what is the purpose of large trees if you can’t park under them?
Need auto advice? Visit us at International Auto Service, or give us a call at (805) 593-0447 in San Luis Obispo.