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How to Remove Tree Sap Stains from Car’s Exterior?

How To Remove Tree Sap_from car

Spring and late summer are the prime seasons for sticky, gooey, tree sap as well as bird droppings. The stuff seems to ooze onto everything with ease, with its sticky, goo-like texture, tree sap quickly adheres to just about anything it comes into contact, from skin and hair to clothing, cars and more. Getting it off, however, can be a whole different matter. Trying to get rid of tree sap, however, can be a whole different matter, it can be difficult and annoying.

Here are some sure fire methods for removing tree sap from just about anything.

Removing Sap from Cars

  • To remove the tree sap from your vehicle’s surface, nail polish remover can be used. Allow the nail polish remover to soak into a cotton ball. Rub onto the affected area using a circular motion. Once the sap is removed, make a paste of baking soda and hot water solution to wash the affected area (1-cup baking soda to 3 cups water). Then wash and wax the car as usual.
  • Mineral spirits is an oil-based solvent oftentimes used as paint thinner and commonly found at your local hardware store. This household item is also effectively used for removing tree sap from cars. Use a soft, terry towel, or wash cloth dampened with mineral spirits. Repeat as needed until the tree sap is gone. After removal, wash the car and apply wax to the affected area.
  • Another great pine tree sap remover is WD-40. Its mild solvent properties easily break down sap. The lubricant is safe on most types of paint. Spray it on and rinse it off with vinegar and water solution. Wash as usual.
  • Lastly, you can also use commercial wax and grease-removing products available at auto supply stores. Be sure to wash and dry the car before applying the wax and grease remover. Then dampen a clean cloth with the solvent and rub the affected area. It may require several attempts if the sap is very thick or extremely hard. The surface may appear hazy after the solvent evaporates, but a good wax application will eliminate the haze and complete the job.

Keep in Mind…

To avoid damaging the surface covered in sap, AWAYS test removal agents on an inconspicuous area first. Only when that area has been treated successfully should you proceed to a larger area. Always wear gloves and use precautions when using any type of chemical. Care should be given, when using mineral spirits, WD-40, and nail polish remover, as this can also remove paint.

Removing tree sap from a car’s finish is a bit more difficult than tar, as hardened sap can scratch your paint. DetailXPerts has tested both mineral spirits and denatured alcohol and by rubbing the spots with these items the sap was able to be removed without damaging the finish. Mineral spirits and denatured alcohol acts as a solvent to break up and dissolve the sap. Steam cleaning the cars exterior once the sap is removed will make sure no residue is left behind.

Tree sap is difficult to remove from any surface, especially once it’s hardened. Learning how to remove tree sap using common household items can make this task easy. However, if you have real tough tree sap stains, then you have to take the help of professional detailers.

6 Responses to “How to Remove Tree Sap Stains from Car’s Exterior?”

  1. Tom says:

    Using a solvent-based (acetone etc.) nail polish remover will destroy your car’s clear coat & paint. If it removes paint from your girlfriend’s nails, it will do the same to your car

  2. Tom, you should ONLY apply nail polish remover to cotton ball, not directly on car. Most car finishes respond very well to this method. Tell me more about your experience. ~ Angela

  3. Amanda says:

    I gave tree sap STAINS. I bought the car with them. Can anyone tell me if they can be polishied out or am I stuck with sap stains on my BLACK CAR 🙁

  4. Liberty Baldovino says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for stopping by. We really appreciate it.
    Generally, tree sap stains can be removed by using a clay bar on a car’s surface. Then, it will be buffed, waxed and polished. However, you forgot to mention how old your car is, which is very important. Fresh tree sap attracts dirt and debris. Left unattended, rain, snow, wind and heat can cause that stain (with dirt and debris) to sink deeper into the paint, making it very difficult to remove.
    But don’t worry. You don’t have to be stuck with a black car with tree sap stains. A visit to detail experts can solve your issue. They have the necessary tools and techniques to restore your car to a like new appearance.

  5. vernon roe says:

    I have a dark blue car with tree sap stains on the roof i have removed all the debris off but left with etched in marks.Thanks

  6. Liberty Baldovino says:

    Hi Vernon,

    If etching has already occurred, then buffing the area is usually the best solution. These posts might help you out:

    For best results, a visit to detail experts in your area is recommended.


April 2012
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