There are many different ways that a car’s paint can become damaged. Fingerprints can push dirt and debris into the paint and these blemishes may be hard to remove. Water spots can also be a problem because they contain minerals that just sit on the surface slowly damaging the paint. For these kinds of things, washing a car regularly is the best defence, but what about a car that is parked under a big tree for a little too long?
Tree sap is one of the most difficult materials to remove without doing further damage to car paint. As someone preparing for a career in auto body repair, it is important to know how to get rid of tree sap like a pro.
What Not To Do
If you notice sap or “insect honeydew” (the sticky waste of insects like aphids) spotted all over a car’s paint, your first instinct might be to take it through a car wash. Once you start auto body training you should know this is a bad idea and why. The automatic carwash will just spread the sap around, which will make the problem even larger and harder to remove.
It is also advisable to avoid using razor blades to remove tree sap. Unlike the automatic car wash, razor blades can actually get rid of the tree sap, but there is a high risk that the paint will get scratched in the process. With sap, any solution that seems like a fast solution is probably more trouble than it is worth.
The Steps for Removal
Removing tree sap from a car properly is not difficult, but it takes time and patience. It is also important to park the car inside or somewhere cool. Heat from the sun can strengthen the sap’s bond to the car paint. Once parked in the right space the steps are as follows:
- Wash the car by hand. This gets rid of any residue or grime from the area you have to work on.
- If you are using a removal product, do a test spot to make sure it doesn’t react badly with the paint.
- Put rubbing alcohol (or another removal product) on a microfiber cloth and let it sit on the sap for at least 20 seconds. The sap needs to break down a bit so you don’t just spread it out.
- After the spots of sap are removed, clean the area with soap and water, rinse and dry well and then apply wax for protection.
This can be done the next day, but if the car owner waits too long it may be necessary to put your auto body technician training to use and work on giving the car a new paint job.
After Auto Body Training You Might Have Other Removal Product Ideas
While you can’t use just anything, there are a lot of other products that can help clean off tree sap besides rubbing alcohol and removal product made specifically for sap and bugs. Before you proceed with any of these products remember step two: do a test spot!
Possible substitutes include:
- Lighter fluid
- Bacon grease
- Hand sanitizer (it’s almost the same as rubbing alcohol)
- Cooking oil
- Baking soda paste with hot water.
Whatever you use, remember to always get rid of anything that might damage paint and lead to rust.
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