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Nature Macro tree Sap DrippingWe’ve all been there. You return to your vehicle after finding that coveted, shady parking spot underneath a tree when you realize that perfect parking spot has left your vehicle coated in sticky drops of tree sap. If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, then you’re sure to understand how difficult it can be to get rid of the mess on your car. Simply wiping away the sap almost never works and can often leave an even larger streak of tree sap on your vehicle. For that reason, many people simply leave the tree sap on their vehicle. We’re here to tell you that’s never a good idea.

While it’s incredibly easy to just leave the tree sap on your vehicle and hope that it will wear off over time, it’s important that you take action immediately to avoid damage to your car. Tree sap can be damaging when it’s found on either your car’s paint or the windshield glass. According to Leonard Raykinsteen, a paint material engineer at Nissan, tree sap “will certainly cause paint damage if left untreated for a longer period of time."

Unattended tree sap can deteriorate the color of your vehicle’s paint by etching through the paint's clear coat, leading to discoloration and staining. If left on the windshield, it can obstruct a driver’s vision if smeared across the windshield by the windshield wipers. It can also damage the windshield wipers if left unattended for too long. As the sap hardens, it will obstruct the path of the windshield wipers and can cause damage to the wipers themselves.

How to Avoid Tree Sap

The easiest way to avoid having this happen to your vehicle is to avoid parking near or underneath trees whenever possible. That being said, that’s nearly impossible at times. That’s why many drivers invest in a car or vehicle cover. It’s important to remember that if you do invest in a car cover, you do not need to use it every time you park your vehicle. To limit any inconvenience to you, keep the car cover in your vehicle at all times so when you do have to park under those tall, sap-dripping pine trees, you’re prepared to cover your vehicle. You may also want to invest in a few cleaning supplies to keep in your vehicle at all times just in case you do find sap on your vehicle. We’ll go into more detail below about what to keep in your car to help you clean off that pesky tree sap.

How to Remove Tree Sap

On your Vehicle’s Windows

When tree sap hardens on your windshield, it can inhibit your ability to see while driving and/or cause damage to your windshield wipers by obstructing their path as they glide across your windshield. That’s why it’s crucial to remove hardened tree sap immediately when found on your windshield. Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Clean the surrounding area with a glass-cleaning agent and allow it to dry.
  • Step 2: On the glass, you can use rubbing alcohol to wipe away the dried-on tree sap. Start by adding a few drops to a clean, dry cloth and lay it over the tree sap to loosen it up.
  • Step 3: Using the moist cloth, gently rub away the tree sap in a circular motion, repeating step 2 if necessary.
  • Step 4: Use the glass cleaning agent once more to ensure that there are no smudges or smears on the glass.

On window and windshield glass, many people opt to use a razor blade or an Exacto knife to slice away the larger pieces of sap from their window glass. While this is an effective way to remove the hardened tree sap, there’s a higher risk of damaging the glass if you do not have a steady hand or you are not skilled in this method. It’s important to remember that if it’s your first time cleaning sap off of your windows, you may not want to use this method just yet.

On Your Vehicle’s Paint

When cleaning the tree sap off of your vehicle’s paint, time is of the essence. You’ll want to clean it off as soon as possible because, depending on the concentration of the tree sap, the damage to your vehicle’s paint can be either rapid or slow. There’s really no way to tell how long it will take for the damages to occur.

  • Step 1: Wash and dry your vehicle or the area with the tree sap. Having a clean surface to work on will help to ensure you’ve gotten all of the sap off at the end.
  • Step 2: Add a few drops of rubbing alcohol or Bug and Tar remover to a clean, dry terry cloth or washcloth. Set the wet cloth on the spot with the tree sap and let it sit for at least 30 seconds.
  • Step 3: Rub away the tree sap with a vigorous, circular motion with the cloth until it is all gone. You may want to repeat steps 2 and 3 if the tree sap is particularly difficult to remove. You’ll find that the repeated circular motion combined with the rubbing alcohol will slowly but surely remove the hardened tree sap.
  • Step 4: Once the tree sap has been removed, treat the area with a few sprays of a quick wax or buffing solution. Wipe it with a new, clean, dry cloth to make sure there is no residue left over so your vehicle is squeaky clean!

We recommend that you keep all of these items in a kit in the trunk or glove box of your car. That way, you are always prepared wherever and whenever pesky tree sap comes into contact with your vehicle. If you have a difficult tree sap stain that simply will not budge on your window or windshield glass, or if you’d like to discuss our auto glass repair and replacement services, contact the professionals at Smiley’s Glass by dialing (804) 320-7172.

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