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How can I remove sap without damaging paintwork?

Your motoring problems solved


car clinic December 27

Q. How can I remove tree sap without damaging my VW Golf’s black paintwork? 
MB, Aberford, Leeds


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A. Resist the temptation to use anything harsh or abrasive. Sap is mostly water and sugar, so gentle washing with warm water and a sponge should remove it as long as it is relatively fresh.

If it resists, use a product such as Simoniz Insect & Tar Remover (£4.49 for 500ml from halfords.com). Have some patience, let the liquid soak in and be prepared to use several applications to get all the sap off; attacking it too hard could cause damage, so take your time and remove a layer at a time. You want the cleaned paintwork to feel like glass; close your eyes and run your fingers over it to check.

If it still feels rough, tiny contaminants such as diesel particles could have become trapped. Use a clay bar such as Bilt Hamber Auto-Clay (£10.95, halfords.com). By using the 200g bar and water as a lubricant, these contaminants can be lifted off or ground down — hopefully to provide the desired mirror finish.

Finally, a coating of a high-quality wax will protect the paintwork, but try not to park under any more trees.

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Dave Pollard, car accessory advice

INSPECTOR GADGET
Dave Pollard has written several Haynes manuals and has tested just about every car-related accessory – read more from Dave here.

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