How on earth do you remove both hardened and fresh sap from your vehicle? Recently I have had several tree sap removal jobs come into the shop, so a “how to” article on this topic seemed fitting. Much like compounding and polishing, you need to test out various products to see which will work best for the job. Several options are available such as Stoner Tarminator, Carpro Tar-x or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and one may work better then the others in certain situations.
I recently had a Honda Pilot come in which has been continually parked under a tree where the owner lives. The vehicle was covered in sap from front to back all over the exterior, many dried and were rock hard. The owner tried removing the sap in some areas with a razor blade, however as you could imagine this caused damage to the finish of the vehicle. After taking a look at the vehicle with the owner and discussing the process and what would be required for removal, we settled on following up the removal process with a single step polish afterward to clean up the finish. Below are a few photos of the vehicle just after being dropped off.
As you can see the sap was on the glass, trim, light and paint.
- Spray the sap with the product of your choice (in this case the IPA), in some cases I will spray the area first with my pressure washer or wash the area first to remove some of the loose debris prior to treating the area with a product (this is really personal preference)
- Let the product sit on the tar for a few minutes to break down and soften the debris on the surface
- Use a sponge or microfiber towel to lightly scrub the area
- Rinse the surface clean with your hose or pressure washer
- Since this is tar and not bug splatter, it can be stuck on the surface pretty well. Repeat the steps above as needed until tar is removed.
- Proceed to your standard two-bucket method wash or your wash method of preference to remove any IPA, degreaser, etc.
After a few hours of sap removal followed by a quick polish, we were left with a nice looking finish once again.