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How to remove tree sap from a car

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    Parking in the shade may be a great way to keep your car cooled off under the blistering summer sun. However, the pine tree acting as your car’s solar shield might make you pay for its service by leaving a sticky sap on your car’s exterior and potentially causing damage. Luckily, learning how to remove tree sap generally requires a few simple supplies and a little patience.

    How to remove sap from your car by washing it

    You may be able to clean your car and remove unwanted gunk just by washing the exterior. Taking your car through an automated car wash may be the most convenient solution. If a mechanical car wash doesn’t do the trick or isn’t an option, you might try washing your car by hand.

    Washing your car manually

    Tree sap, tar and other substances may end up damaging your paint if you leave them sitting on your car’s exterior long enough. The risk of damage typically increases the longer you leave the sap baking in the sun, so it’s helpful to start cleaning tree sap from your car as soon as possible. Before getting started, you’ll want to gather some essential supplies like buckets of water, a wash mitt, car wash soap and microfiber towels to ensure you’re able to do a thorough job.

    How to remove tree sap with a solvent

    If washing your car yourself didn’t do the trick, you may want to try another solution to remove tree sap from a panel on your car. With your isopropyl alcohol or tree sap remover in hand, you may be able to shine up your car’s exterior following these steps:

    1. Test any products first: Damaging your paint is something you likely want to avoid. Whether you’re using isopropyl alcohol or a tree sap removal product, you may want to test it first by applying a small amount to an inconspicuous area on your car. This helps you ensure it won’t lift any paint off your car’s exterior.
    2. Spot-clean with a solvent:
      • Rubbing alcohol: Using gloves for safety, start by dipping a microfiber towel in isopropyl alcohol and applying a small amount of pressure to gently rub the tree sap off with a circular motion. With some luck, the alcohol should break down the sap enough to where you can simply wipe it off.
      • Tree sap remover: If you purchased a tree sap remover cleaner, follow the instructions provided. Like rubbing alcohol, most tree sap removers are designed to break down the sticky tar, which you can usually wipe away after it’s softened up.
    3. Repeat if necessary: If the tree sap has been on your car for a while, it may be especially set-in and require you to repeat the previous step a few more times.
    4. Rinse your car: Once you’re satisfied that you’ve removed all the tree sap from your car, you can rinse the car off once again to remove any leftover residue.

    How to get tree sap off a windshield

    Just like any other spot on your car, sticky, sugary tree sap tends to quickly harden wherever it lands, including your car’s windshield. If the tree sap on your car’s windshield has already hardened, it’s unlikely that your automated window wipers (plus a spray of washer fluid) will be able to properly break down the sap — it might even smear it around your windshield.

    Instead, you may be able to remove tree sap from your windshield by following the steps outlined above, first starting with a gentle soap and water wash and then moving onto stronger solvents if needed. If a simple spot clean and wipe down doesn’t work, you could try placing an alcohol-moistened towel over the sap for a few minutes, which may give the solution time to adequately break down the sap before wiping it away.

    Note that if you’re using a specific tree sap removal product instead of alcohol, you may want to double-check that it’s safe to use on your car’s windshield, as some products may be too harsh for windshield coatings.

    In summary

    Learning how to remove tree sap from your car is helpful when trying to prevent any residue from building up, as it could eventually damage your car’s paint. If caught early enough, you may be able to get the job done with a simple hand wash. Otherwise, safely applying isopropyl alcohol or tree sap removal products to any sticky sap will likely do the trick. Routinely washing your car as a maintenance measure is also a helpful way to prevent build-up.

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