How to Remove Tree Sap from Your Car

Whether at home or work, sometimes you have no choice but to park under a tree. As it begins to bud or when the seasons change, that tree can leak gooey sap all over your car’s paint. Sap season runs from late January through early April. Not only is sap challenging to remove, but it can also damage your automotive paint. 

Thankfully, the experts at Red Rock Tint are here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about removing stubborn sap and preventing it from damaging your car. 


Can Tree Sap Ruin Car Paint? 

The short answer is yes, tree sap is harmful to car paint. While it won’t cause immediate damage, the sap’s acidic components will feed on your vehicle’s clear coat.

Tree sap affects your auto paint because it bonds to your vehicle’s surfaces. As the droplets of sap shrink, they will bond tighter to the paint and cause stress on the vehicle’s finish. That tightness can cause cracks, making your car more prone to rust. Sap can also cause discoloration and unsightly blemishes. Additionally, the longer the sap stays on your vehicle, the harder it will be to remove. 


Does WD-40 Remove Tree Sap? 

One of the easiest ways to remove hardened sap from your car is with WD-40. Shake the can before liberally spraying it on the affected regions. Cover the treated areas with a large paper towel or cling film and let it soak for about five minutes. After allowing the WD-40 to sit, you can use a clean cloth to wipe away the sap. After the sap is gone, wash the area with soap and hot water. 


Does Dawn Dish Soap Remove Sap from Cars? 

Dawn liquid dish soap is another effective way to remove tree ooze from your car. However, this treatment works best if the sap is fresh. If the sap has hardened, use WD-40.

To remove sap with Dawn soap, thoroughly wash and dry your car. Spray the dish soap on the affected areas. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the area before rewashing it. We also recommend using cloth baby diapers. 


Additional Ways to Get Tree Sap off Your Car 

If you don’t have any Dawn dish soap or WD-40 handy, there are a few other ways to remove tree sap from your car. If the sap is still fresh, you can use: 

  1. Nail polish remover: Pour a small amount onto a cotton ball and wipe it on the sap. The sap should come off quickly. After it’s removed, use a mixture of baking soda and water to remove any residue.
  2. Commercial car cleaner: Wash the affected area with commercial car cleaning products.
  3. Mineral spirit: This product is used for thinning oil-based paints. Dampen a cloth with the mineral spirit and rub it on the sap. Afterward, wash the area with warm water.
  4. Cooking oil: Coat the sap with non-toxic cooking oil, like canola or coconut oil. Allow it to sit for five minutes before wiping it off with a wet cloth.

If the tree sap has hardened, try using:

  1. Lighter fluid or rubbing alcohol: Place one of these products on the hardened sap and allow it to sit. After the sap has dissolved, wipe the area with a wet cloth.
  2. Tar remover: Apply an insect and tar remover to the sap and allow it to sit. Wipe clean. 


Ways to Avoid Tree Sap 

Pine and spruce trees are abundant in Colorado. While they add beauty to the Centennial State’s lush landscape, the trees’ sticky sap can also do a number on your car.

The best way to prevent sap damage is to avoid getting it on your car altogether. Use these simple tips for avoiding tree sap:

  1. If possible, don’t park under any trees. If you must park under a tree, steer clear of trees with holes in the trunks, dead bark, or decaying branches.
  2. Regularly wax your ride. A fresh layer of wax will prevent the sap from penetrating your clear coat.
  3. Use a car cover if you plan not to drive your vehicle for a while.
  4. Apply paint protection film (PPF) to your car. Also known as clear bra, this transparent urethane layer can protect your automotive paint from sap, bug splatter, bird droppings, UV rays, and other damaging outdoor elements. For added protection, have ceramic coating installed over the PPF. This liquid polymer can prevent fading and oxidation and makes your car easier to clean.

Paint Protection Film and Tree Sap 

Paint protection film is an excellent defense against tree sap. Red Rocks Tint is proud to use XPEL PPF at our shop. This product will never yellow or peel and can be seamlessly applied to all of your car’s body panels. Whether you want PPF installed on your hood or every inch of your car, our technicians have you covered. Plus, our PPF installations are backed by a three-year warranty.

To learn more, contact us today by calling 303-816-8464. We’ll get your car ready for sap season!