How To Remove Tree Sap From Your Car

Tree sap is one of those things that is almost impossible to remove from the car paint. But there are some simple tricks for how to do it. Read on to easily remove the tree sap from your car

How To Remove Tree Sap From A Car

You work hard to keep your car looking its best, which is why it’s so discouraging when tree sap falls on the auto paint. If you don’t take prompt action, the sticky substance could damage the paint of the vehicle, which is why you must know how to remove tree sap from your car. 

Removing tree sap starts with a good old-fashioned car wash. You will also need to use a clay bar to work the tree sap off of the surface. If the tree sap is being particularly stubborn, you might need to grab some other household products for help, such as nail polish remover or WD-40. 

However, you need to use caution, so you don’t damage the paint any further. That’s why we are going to walk you through the tree sap removal steps. 

How to Remove Tree Sap From Your Car

1. Wash the Car

Pressure Wash Car

The first step when anything is on the car paint is to wash the surface. For the best results, avoid automatic car washes, which can further damage the paint. Instead, hand wash the car with premium materials.

If you choose to use a power washer, make sure you turn it to a low setting. Otherwise, you could wash the paint away in the process. 

2. Use Clay Bar

Clay Car

The clay bar is designed from a resin compound that can be either natural or synthetic in nature. This elastic product gets rolled out, flattened and continually stretched across the body of the vehicle.

As you roll the clay bar liberally over the affected location, the tree sap should be removed with it. However, it’s also possible to remove some of the clear coat if you aren’t careful. Using this clay bar kit from Amazon is a good start.

3. Take Advanced Measures

Additional Wash

If the tree sap is being stubborn and hasn’t come off, you will have to try some other products. We do go further into detail about what products to use in a separate section, but you might choose isopropyl alcohol, nail polish remover or WD-40.

Whatever substance you choose to use, rub a little bit onto a microfiber cloth and apply it to the affected area. You can let it sit for about thirty seconds and gently rub it around. If the sap hasn’t been removed, you can repeat this process a few times until you have success. Just don’t rub too hard or you could damage the paint. 

4. Rinse/Dry Vehicle

Dry Car

Once the sap is removed, it’s time to rinse down the car once again. You want to make sure that anything you’ve put on the paint is washed away. You also want to get rid of any bits of the tree sap that have been missed.

Hand dry the car with a soft microfiber cloth. You shouldn’t let the car air dry or you will deal with nasty water spots. 

5. Protect the Paint

Wax Car

Once the vehicle is shining and like-new again, it’s time to protect the paint. You could use a wax product in the form of liquid, spray or paste.

Some people prefer to put a sealant or gloss shine on their vehicle. Just make sure you follow the instructions with whatever option you choose. 

How to Get Tree Sap Off of Windshield

If the tree sap has gotten on your windshield, do not use the wipers to try and remove it. This step will only smear the tree sap around and make it more challenging to clean. 

Instead, wash the windshield like you would during a car wash. Once it is as clean as it can get, pour your chosen sap remover onto your clean microfiber cloth. Put the towel on the affected area and let it sit for 30 seconds. 

Rub the area gently until the sap has been removed. If this doesn’t work after a few tries, you can gently use a razor blade to scrape the sap away. 

Once the windshield is clean, use an automotive glass cleaner to finish the job. It’s best to avoid any household cleaners that contain ammonia. 

Products that Remove Hardened Tree Sap from Car Paint

1. Bacon Grease

If you are having trouble getting the sap off, run to your kitchen and grab some bacon grease. This may seem like an unconventional method, but it truly works.

While the grease itself won’t cause damage to the car paint and can easily be washed off with dish soap, you must be careful what else is in it. If you cooked something that could damage the paint, you might want to avoid this option. 

2. WD40

The “WD” stands for Water Displacement. In fact, this multi-use product contains a secret type of lubricants that help run the world.

With WD40, you can easily remove anything stuck onto the car paint, including sap. Just soak a little on a cloth and hold it in place for about 30 seconds. 

3. Lighter Fluid

Another popular solvent to use is lighter fluid. It’s fast to evaporate, so it doesn’t stick around and attack the paint.

With that said, you still want to make sure any excess lighter fluid gets removed from the paint. Use plenty of water to make sure it is off the paint when you are finished. 

4. Nail Polish Remover

If you are going to use nail polish remover to get tree sap off of the car, make sure it contains acetone. This product breaks down the sap and removes it quickly.

Soak a cotton ball in the remover and rub it across the area in a circular motion. However, you need to wash the acetone off immediately because it will eat away at the paint. 

5. Mineral Spirits 

These oil-based solvents work as paint thinners, so you might even have them in your garage. Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid exposure.

Soak a clean towel in the mineral spirits and apply it to the affected area. Once you have removed the tree sap, wash all of the solvent off to protect the paint. 

6. Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol breaks down sticky substances, such as sap. If you don’t have alcohol around the house, read some bottles of your hand sanitizer, which probably contain the right amount of alcohol.

As with some of the other options, you must be careful when using alcohol. If it isn’t removed from the car body quickly, it can cause permanent paint damage.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.