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Can Tree Sap Damage Car Paint?


If you park your car under a tree, you might have seen a sticky paste-like substance on your car. This paste is a tree sap and it’s a common element that cars parked outdoors are exposed to. So can tree sap damage car paint?

Yes, tree sap can damage car paint. However, It’s unlikely that tree sap will damage your car overnight. For tree sap to damage your car paint, you must have left the sap on the car for a long time which makes it eat into the paint.

This article examines the effects of tree sap on car paint, and how to remove tree sap from car paint. Finally, we will examine how to prevent possible damage.

The Effects Of Tree Sap On Paint

The first effect of tree sap on your car paint is that it causes a mess on your car interior. It creates an unpleasant sight because its stickiness attracts other dust and inserts which further increases the unpleasant sight. 

Unlike other elements such as bird droppings, acid rain, and bug splatter, tree sap doesn’t contain chemicals that eat into car paint. However, when left for too long, tree sap will ruin the paint coating.

So, the biggest effect of tree sap on car paint is that it can damage the car paint when left to bake in the sun. When tree sap bakes in the sun, it becomes resistant to regular car wash solutions.

Attempting to scrape the sap from the car’s surface will lead to damage to the car’s paint. 

When To Remove Tree Sap

Tree sap becomes notoriously difficult to remove when it hardens to the car paint. Hence the best time to remove tree sap from car paint is as soon as it falls on the car.

car with tree sap all over its bonnet, windscreen & top

Unfortunately, tree sap can is mostly clear which makes it tough to detect. Hence the best solution is to wash your car frequently and also avoid parking under trees. You should be particularly wary of maple trees because they release more sap than other trees.

 It’s advisable to wash your car frequently at least once a week. This will reduce the chances of sap hardening to your car paint.

How To Remove Sap From Car Paint

Early detection is key to safely removing sap from your car paint. If you’re able to spot the sap early, a car wash can be enough to remove it.

However, when the sap gets dry it becomes more tricky to remove. To remove the sap without damaging the car paint, you have to ensure you’re gentle.

If the sap gets stuck to the car paint, a regular car wash won’t be enough and you will require extreme measures. You can use these techniques in removing dried sap from your car paint.

Clay Bar

A clay bar is a combination of detailing liquid spray and a clay bar to remove solid material stuck to car paint.

To use a clay bar, you first need to clean all the dirt and debris from the car surface. You can then proceed to add the clay bar lubricant and rub the clay bar across the sap. The clay bar kit will remove all sorts of elements including tree sap.

Tar and Sap Remover

The is a product made mainly for softening sap on car paint. It contains chemicals that weaken the sap and soften it from the inside out.

After applying a tar and sap remover, you need to be patient for a couple of minutes for the solution to soften the sap. After that, you can begin to wipe off the tar with a microfiber towel.

There are homemade solutions that can serve as an alternative to tar and sap remover. Examples of homemade solutions include magazines, alcohol, and mineral spirits. Some people even use bacon grease.

Whatever cleaning product you choose to use, ensure you use a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the car surface.

Plastic Razor Blade

Plastic razor blades serve as a safe alternative to metal razor blades. You can use plastic razor blades to avoid scratching the surface and it’s effective in removing hard sap.

To make your job easier, you can first apply a tar and sap remover to weaken the sap. After which you can scrape off of sap using a plastic razor blade.


A domestic steam wand can be an effective tool in softening sap on car paint. While steaming alone will not remove the sap, it will soften it and make it easier to remove.

How To Prevent Tree Sap Damages On Your Car Paint

It’s not easy to spot sap when it gets stuck on your car so it’s better to take preventive measures to limit the chances of sap getting stuck to your car’s surface. You can follow these tips in preventing sap from damaging your car paint.

Avoid Parking Under Trees

A good way to prevent sap damage to your car is to avoid parking your car under trees. You should be conscious of not parking your car under maple trees because they produce more sap.


Wash Your Car Regularly

Since sap is hard to spot, you should wash your car at least once a week. This will reduce the chances of sap getting stuck on the paint.

When washing your car, you should use a car wash soap that contains solutions strong enough to remove sap. However, ensure the car wash soap doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that can fade the car paint.

Use Protective Car Coating

Another good strategy to protect your car from sap is to apply protective car coating to the surface. You can use car wax, polymer, and sealant products which makes the surface waterproof and harder for sap to stick.


Your car’s surface is exposed to different elements that can cause damage when ignored. Hence you should keep an eye on your car and don’t forget to give your car some TLC.

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