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How To Remove Tree Sap and Bugs From Your Car

How To Remove Tree Sap and Bugs From Your Car

As spring quickly approaches we can look forward to beautiful weather and long days. But one thing most of us aren’t excited about when it comes to seasonal changes is the tree sap and bugs that seem to always make their way onto your vehicle. Many vehicles fall victim to tree saps and bugs during the spring even when they don’t park under a tree. No doubt, removing sap from your vehicle safely can be frustrating and challenging for some. You might be wondering; how to remove tree sap and bugs from your car.

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How To Remove Tree Sap – What Is Tree Sap?

If you’ve never heard of the term “tree sap” you may be wondering exactly what it is. Tree sap is more than just the substance that tends to get onto your clothes and your car during springtime. It’s often referred to as the “blood of the tree”. It consists of two different substances; xylem and phloem. Xylem is what helps trees flourish since it transports all the minerals, hydration, and hormones from the bottom of the tree all the way to the top. Every year around springtime, xylem dies off and new ones are produced. The previous xylem channels are what you’ll see in the tree sap.


Phloem is a sticky, sugary like substance created by photosynthesis. Phloem is fed back into the tree and its leaves providing food during its growth period. Just like the blood which pumps harder throughout our bodies as we exert ourselves the same goes for tree sap. Tree sap tends to fall or shed due to damage, pruning, pests, and disease. Some tree species tend to produce more tree sap than others. 


How To Remove Tree Sap – Does Tree Sap and Bugs Damage Your Car’s Paint

There are several natural elements that cause damage to your vehicles such as UV rays and even salt. When it comes to tree sap, you can rest assured that it won’t erode the paint on your vehicle right away. Fallen tree sap can add up rather quickly especially if you park under a fallen branch or a tree. If you leave the tree sap on your car for several days without washing it away it will start to eat away at the clear coat finish on your vehicle resulting in discolored patches, fading, or even stains. 


When you combine tree sap with high temperatures you can expect the damage to the paint on your car to happen at a much faster rate. As the weather heats up, warm temperatures can significantly bake the sap into your car’s body causing the discoloration and the staining process to accelerate. That’s why it’s important to learn how to remove tree sap from your car so you can do so as soon as you spot it. 


What about bugs? As the temperatures heat up, bug season will be in full swing. When tree sap falls onto your car they also bring bugs with them. What many people don’t know is that bugs can do a great deal of damage to your vehicle’s exterior paint. Their fluids are high in acidic and they can start dissolving the paint on your car if you let them live or their remains live on your cars. When you kill bugs on your vehicle you should make sure you are wiping them away rather than scraping them off which can further damage your paint job.


How To Remove Tree Sap and Bugs The Wrong Way

If you notice that tree sap and bugs have begun to take up residence on your vehicle’s surface you might be tempted to try unconventional ways to remove them. Rubbing alcohol and bug tar remover may be your natural go to options but these ruin the clear coat or the top finish on your vehicle. 


Learning how to remove tree sap and bugs safely is important because you don’t want to damage the body of your vehicle in the process. 


How To Remove Tree Sap and Bugs – Basic Car Wash

When you’re trying to remove tree sap and bugs off your car you should start with a basic car wash. Giving your car a complete quick wash is one step you don’t want to skip. A lot of times a water and soap mixture can eradicate tree sap and bugs from your vehicle’s surface. It also allows you to remove dirt, sediment, and other particles that could be compromising the paint on your car. 


The two bucket car washing style is often a good way to remove loose particles, some tree sap, and bugs. You can opt to go to your local car wash to remove tree sap or give your vehicle a quick scrub at the comfort of your home. 


The great thing about going to a professional car washer is that they know how to remove tree sap the right way and a professional wash ensures that water spots don’t develop on your vehicle’s body. Because standing water causes water spots you should make sure your car is thoroughly dried off. 


Once your car is dry you can get a good look at whether all of the tree sap has been removed. What if there are still lingering tree sap particles or bugs on the surface of the vehicle?


How To Remove Tree Sap – Are Store Bought Cleaners Safe?

There is an abundance of professional automotive cleaning products on the market that promise to remove tree sap, bugs, and other particles from your vehicle’s surface. A lot of the products on the market are labeled as bug and tar removers. While these products can successfully get rid of tree sap and insect residue from your car they can cause damage to the paint in the process. 


When searching for the right commercial tree sap removal product you should make sure you carefully read the label. Select products that are labeled safe to use on paints such as Turtle Wax and Goo Gone. Exercise caution by testing how the product reacts on just a small portion of your vehicle. Take a microfiber cloth and apply a small amount to an inconspicuous area of your vehicle. Did it dissolve some of the paint or cause it to fade? If there isn’t any damage to your car paint you can try using the product to remove the tree sap. 


Removing stubborn tree sap can take time so you’ll want to be patient. You’ll find that store bought tree sap removal products leave behind an oily residue. All you have to do is give your car another quick wash and wax to solve this problem. 


How To Remove Tree Sap and Bugs – Homemade Remedies

If you don’t have the time or the money to spend on professional grade tree sap cleaners you can always keep it simple and try a homemade remedy. Acetone free nail polish remover and hand sanitizer can work wonders when it comes to removing tree sap. 


Start off by applying the acetone free nail polish remover to a cotton ball or paper towel and applying the product in a circular motion to the tree sap-laden spot on your vehicle. After a few seconds, you should be able to wipe the sap off.


Lighter fluid and WD40 are also products that may already be in your garage that you can use to clean tree sap off your vehicle. When using the WD40 you can spray it directly to the areas that need it and wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. 


Lighter fluid evaporates rather quickly so you don’t have to worry about it damaging the paint on your car. Lighter fluid contains properties that are effective at breaking the bond between tree sap and your car’s paint. Within minutes you’ll be able to see the tree sap dissolving. 


While home remedies are just as effective as any store bought product that may leave the paint on the car looking a bit dull. Waxing the vehicle can help restore its former shine. 


How To Remove Tree Sap and Bugs From the Windshield and Windows

It’s also common for tree sap and bugs to cling to the windshield and the windows of your car. This can be frustrating because it can affect your visibility when driving. Once the tree sap hardens it obstructs the path when your windshield wipers are on which can ultimately cause damage to them. Therefore, you should remove tree sap from your windows and windshield right away. Fortunately, learning how to remove tree sap and bugs from your windshields and windows is easy. 


You can’t simply use water when you are removing tree sap and bugs from the windows and windshield. After all, it’s no secret that water and soap can leave behind a thick film and residue which can make visibility nearly impossible. 


When you’re cleaning tree sap and insect residue from your windshield and windows stick to a quality glass cleaner or use a mixture of glass cleaner and water. Spray a moderate amount of glass cleaner onto the windows and the windshield. 


Use a lint free paper towel or a microfiber cloth to wipe the cleaning agent from the glass. Don’t be hesitant to apply a little bit of pressure if the tree sap is stuck on the glass surface. You may have to repeat these steps a few times if the tree sap has hardened. 


You can also effectively remove stubborn tree sap from these areas of the vehicle using alcohol or regular nail polish remover. Unlike the paint, the windows and windshield aren't as susceptible to damage from cleaning products. If you use store bought products to remove tree sap and bugs from the windshields and windows you may have to finish the job off by thoroughly cleaning these surfaces with glass cleaner. 


How To Remove Tree Sap – Protect Your Car From Tree Sap and Bugs

Constantly removing tree sap and bugs from your car windows and paint can be time-consuming. How can you protect your vehicle from getting covered in these substances? Of course, the most obvious preventative measure you can take is to avoid parking under trees or near them. Maple, walnut, and birch trees produce a lot of tree sap. You’ll definitely want to avoid parking anywhere near trees from these species. 


Consider applying a coat of wax to further protect your vehicle. A quality wax or polishing agent can protect your paint from tree sap. When this protective layer is applied to your vehicle, you don’t have to worry about fallen tree sap or insects eating your base coat. The wax or polisher serves as a barrier between the base coat and harmful natural elements.


If you have a tree near your driveway using a car cover is the most effective way to prevent your car from being laden with tree sap and insects. Car covers that are specifically designed to protect against insects are best because you don’t have to worry about bugs biting their way through the material. Tree sap will just fall onto the cover and you can quickly dust it off before removing the cover from your vehicle. 


If you live in an area where trees are everywhere, getting your cash washed regularly can prevent tree sap and bugs from damaging the paint on the body of your car. Weekly car washes remove tree sap and other particles from your car. This substance won’t have time to harden and eat away at the body of the vehicle.


Popular products like Bug Barrier provide a temporary protective coating on your vehicle to keep insects from making your vehicle home. Such products can be used on the front and back of your vehicle and even the mirrors. They are successful at keeping bugs from sticking to the car surface.