Sap will not immediately damage a car’s paint, but it should not be ignored. After some time, the sap can etch through the paint’s clear coat, leading to discoloring and staining.
“The concentration of sap generally varies, so it is difficult to say what the short-term effects would be, but it will certainly cause paint damage if left untreated for a longer period of time,” says Leonard Raykinsteen, a paint material engineer at Nissan. “If sap is detected on a vehicle’s paint finish, it should be removed in a timely manner. How soon? I don’t think anyone can truly define it because it depends on the concentration of the sap as well as the weather conditions. Generally, when it is hot, the effects of tree sap are accelerated.”
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears