How to Remove Tree Sap from Car Paint

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The best way to protect your car from tree sap is by not parking under trees. However, that’s not always an option, and sometimes we just forget and come back to nasty sap drops on our paintwork.

Tree sap can be difficult to remove and can cause damage if left on the car for too long. In this blog post, we will cover how to safely remove tree sap from your car paint without leaving any marks or damaging the surface.

First, make sure it is actually tree sap before attempting anything else. If you think the blob might be bird droppings or some other type of sticky substance then the best removal approach may differ. It’s important to identify what you’re dealing with in order to keep from damaging your paint by using the wrong product for removal.

Here are your options for removing tree sap. Note that sap changes over time (and becomes harder to remove) so depending on the length of time the sap has been on your car the best approach may differ. Also, regardless of the approach you take, it’s best to wash your vehicle before attempting to remove the sap to ensure you don’t scratch your paint by rubbing in any dirt or particles.

Take Your Car to a Professional

While this may seem like overkill for most people, if you really want to avoid doing any damage to your paintwork, consult a professional detailer.

Professionals are in the best position to select the appropriate method for breaking down the sap on your vehicle and removing it without damaging the paint and any other protective coating you may have. This may save you from unnecessarily applying harsh chemicals to your paintwork.

They also will be able to polish and wax after the sap removal to ensure the paint is fully restored and protected.

Soap and Hot Water

This method may work if the tree sap has only been on your car for a short period of time.

Combine liquid car washing soap and hot water into one bucket and fill another bucket with cold water for rinsing afterwards. Place sponge or a soft cloth/microfibre towel into bucket with soap and water. Gently scrub sap off the paintwork, rinse away residue in the other bucket of cold water.

If this approach doesn’t work first time, repeat the process, or leave the warm soapy mixture to sit on the sap for a while before scrubbing.

Bowden’s Own Ta Ta Tar

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Recommended by detailing enthusiasts, this citrus-based Australian product is designed to remove tar, grime, and tree sap. Bowden’s Own Ta Ta Tar is a new formula that can clean up light or heavy deposits on your paint, chrome, alloy wheels/rims and glass.

The best part about using Bowden’s Own Ta Ta Tar? You don’t have to scrub away at stubborn areas; just make sure you apply enough pressure with each wipe so that the liquid will break down any tough deposits easily before wiping off or spraying with water.

Diggers Wax & Grease Remover

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Diggers Wax & Grease Remover is an easy-to-use multi-purpose product that effectively removes tree sap and other stubborn build-ups on your car’s paintwork. This heavy-duty cleaning solvent is a clear liquid that can remove even the toughest of deposits like dried tree sap because it has been designed for maximum effectiveness and will not damage any automotive finish.

Clay Bar

RELATED: The Best Clay Bars

Clay bars can assist in removing tree sap that has been in place for a long time. They work by removing any dirt and embedded fragments of tree sap that may be stuck to your car’s paint.

A clay bar is a soft disk made from % natural ground clays which are extremely gentle on delicate automotive finishes but tough enough for the harshest contamination. The super-soft material has an adhesive quality that provides single-molecule removal with every pass over the surface area being cleaned. Note that proper care must be taken when washing vehicles after use of a clay bar due to possible scratching or marring of surfaces just washed. Always wash off all chemicals before waxing.

Car Polish

See: The Best Car Polish in Australia

Polish is slightly abrasive and will break up the outer layer of sap. Applying polish by hand should be sufficient to break up most tree sap.

Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax

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Chemical Guys are one of the most well-known and respected names in the auto detailing space. Check out their video below for removing tree sap using their Butter Wet Wax.

Tree sap FAQ

Does SAP ruin car paint?

If left long enough, sap could leave a cloudy haze on the paint. If you notice any of this, it is best to remove as much as possible with soap and water or other appropriate cleaning solution before using chemical remover.

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Mike Jarvis

Mike is an automotive writer with a life-long passion for all things with four wheels.