We are approaching that time of year when many folks will be transporting a freshly cut Christmas tree home to decorate for the holidays. Make absolutely sure that you protect your truck bed from the remnants of the tree needles which may have pine pitch on them. It's best to remove the tree and store it somewhere else, don't leave it on your truck once you are back home. The longer tree sap is on your truck bed or anywhere on its' finish, the more involved and laborious removing it will be.
Fresh pine sap and dried-on sap are two different issues to remove. If you have a bed liner, you will still want to remove any traces of pitch on it, as well as the finish exposed finish areas of your pickup. Removing sap is a tad more difficult that removing tar or bird droppings. If it is done incorrectly, removing dried and hardened sap will scratch your paint. I discovered that hand rubbing the spots of pitch with mineral spirits, which are easy to buy in stores, is great to use. The mineral spirits act as a solvent to break up and dissolve the sap.
If you have a very large area of sap marks on your truck, for example due to a work site that has lots of pine trees, or if the sap has been left on undetected for quite awhile, I found that if you apply some rubbing compound it will remove the hardened surface area making the use of mineral spirits after that step much easier. The rubbing compound is a specifically formulated blend of oils, solvents and water, and are designed to remove paint scratches, stains and acid rain etchings, so it works great for the sap as well because it softens it. Rubbing compounds may be applied either by hand or with a machine. Just keep in mind that a lighter pressure is desired to avoid scratching the paint.
Another idea is to use an orange-based solvent, such as Orange Sol or Citra Solve along with children's molding clay. You simply apply a bit of the solvent and rub it with the clay. That makes it abrasive enough to scrub off the sap after it's been broken down when the solvent does its job. Keep in mind that the chemicals used to move the sap can also remove your wax or sealants, so be sure to spot wax or re-wax your truck after you remove the sap.
I have heard of many things that folks have tried on pine sap, such as antibacterial hand gel, mayonnaise, ice cubes, denatured alcohol, WD-40, nail polish remover, pure lard, and Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil, just to name a few. I cannot recommend or dispute any of these because I have not personally used them as I have the mineral spirits, CitraSolve, molding clay and rubbing compound. Obviously, your trucks' windows are different from its paint finish, in which case any sap on glass can be removed with a razor blade.
Some of nature's elements can enhance the effects of sap on your paint finish such as hot weather, particularly the baking of it from the sun. It can harden the sap and turn it black, making it harder than ever to remove. Running your truck through the car wash will definitely not do the trick. It takes more than just the soap and warm water. Some detailing professionals swear by Goof Off and Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover, but you must be careful to follow directions to the letter to eliminate unintentional damage to your pickup.
All vehicles and situations can require different methods, depending on your trucks' finish, be it clear coat or pearl. If you have any doubt which product, home item or method is best for your type of truck finish, it's always best to consult a body shop or mechanic who has dealt with this situation before for the best detailed advice. Best prevention method is to be aware of what you park near or underneath, and when it's time to cut that Christmas tree down, protect your truck bed, even if you have a liner or bed mat, with a sheet or tarp while transporting your holiday tree home.
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I am a NYS licensed Auto Damage Appraiser, CSE certified, I-Car Certified, and have worked in the automotive industry for decades. I've had the opportunity to teach auto body repair to misled kids in a classroom setting, giving them a chance to have a trade for a viable income. I found this very rewarding. Previously, I was all about the American muscle cars of the 60's. Now, I find pickup trucks and the way they have evolved to be my fascination and focus. I truly enjoy hearing from fellow pick
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