• car maintenance

Tree sap or bird poo on your paint? Here’s how to remove It

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Updated 10 Oct 2019

Jason Unrau

If you’re anything like me, your car is your pride and joy. You’ve invested your hard-earned money into it, so you like to take care of it in the hope that you’ll enjoy years of service from it, as well as maintaining its resale value.

But sometimes Mother Nature has other plans, and your paint job suffers the effects. Such is the case with tree sap and bird droppings.

You mightn’t realise that these pesky substances are as harmful as they truly are. Both tree sap and bird poo permanently damage your car’s paint if they’re not dealt with swiftly.

Both materials are natural, yes, but usually contain high levels of acidity.

If left too long on your car, these compounds can etch themselves into the paint.

The damaged areas look like dull water spots, however, they don’t wash off. At least not easily.

As much as it’s attractive, the paint on your car is actually a protective coating, and both sap and bird poo sitting on your paint eats away at that protective layer. Your paint can crack or flake, and the metal underneath can rust.

That’s why it’s important to deal with bird poo or sap on your car as quickly as possible, and here’s how.

Wash Your Car Straight Away

As soon as you notice the sap or bird droppings, wash it off. Go through a car wash before it dries.

Once it hardens on your paint, it’s exponentially more difficult to remove.

Use a touchless car wash – bird droppings can be gritty and scratch your paint if a brush agitates against it. Tree sap can smear, leaving a much bigger mess to deal with afterwards.

Remove Dried-On Sap or Bird Poo

If you can’t get to a car wash or you don’t notice it until it’s dried, you might still be able to avoid corroding your paint. Here are some tips to help:

  • Park your car in the sun for 10 minutes to soften sap. Then, use a good-quality road tar and sap remover with a microfiber cloth to dissolve the tree sap from your paint job. Once it’s gone, wash your car to remove any remaining residue.
  • Soften bird droppings with a wet cloth. Use a cotton or microfiber cloth; paper towelling is abrasive and can scratch your paint. Pick the droppings off your paint with your fingers. Don’t wipe at it! Repeat until all traces of bird droppings are gone.
  • If you don’t want to be ‘hands-on’ to clean the goo off your car, you can try spraying car cleaner on it to soften it. Then go through the car wash to remove the contaminant.

Fix the Damage

Damage to your paint can happen in as little as 10 minutes, depending on the acidity level.

If you have the telltale round ‘water spot-like’ marks on your paint afterwards, you might be able to fix it.

Apply your favourite high-quality car polish to the spots, rubbing until the mark diminishes. If you can’t get it out by hand, a professional car detailer can often remove sap and bird dropping marks with a power polish.

After you’ve removed the offending matter and fixed the damage, make sure to protect your car’s finish. Wax your car’s paint to seal the surface and prevent damage the next time a bird decides to use your car as a lavatory.

If you’ve read this far, you obviously care about your car. A lot. So next time you need a service, repair or inspection, visit AutoGuru.com.au.

We let you search and book from over 1600 qualified mechanics, who eat car troubles for breakfast.

Image credit: Wes Bryant

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Written By

Jason Unrau

Jason is a Canadian automotive content writer with a background in the auto service industry, but he’s been hooked on cars and mechanics since childhood.

One of his first cars was an ’80 Mazda RX-7 that’s sorely missed to this day. A ’68 Ford Torino GT, a ’66 Ford Country Squire Woodie station wagon, and a ’96 Suzuki GSX-R 750 have spent time in his fleet of cars, bikes, and trucks over the past two decades.

Jason’s pride and joy is under construction – a turbocharged ’88 Mazda RX-7 convertible. Also on his resume is CASCAR official certification.