How Falling Leaves Can Damage Your Car

Lisa Steuer McArdle
· 3 min read
One of the best things about the
fall season
is all the pretty, colorful trees. But you may not have realized that falling leaves can actually cause some
damage to your car
. In fact, it’s a good idea to try to
avoid parking
under trees if you can, but this is not always possible.
The good news is there are a few simple steps to take to protect your car this fall from the leaves.
It’s important to remove leaves when they get stuck under your car’s windshield wiper.

Leaves and car damage in the fall

Oftentimes, leaves can get caught in sunroof drains. Some people might try to use a wire hanger to remove them but that could do even more damage by tearing the liner of the sunroof. Instead, you could try using a vacuum cleaner, according to
Another place where leaves tend to accumulate is under a car’s
windshield wipers
. Make sure you remove visible leaves with your hands, and don’t forget to pop the hood and remove any leaves that have built up around the base of the windshield.
also advises plugging your car’s drainage system. If leaves do get into the crevices around the trunk, hood, and windshield wipers, it might cause micro drains to back up. If they do become backed up, water may start to accumulate in your car.
It’s also possible for leaves to get into the air vents of your car. This might make a "flap, flap, flap" sound from the engine when leaves are sucked into the blower motors and the HVAC system. Keeping the area around the windshield wipers free of leaves and twigs will help prevent this from happening.
Unfortunately, leaves are really acidic, especially when they get wet. That’s why if they sit too long, it can cause a clear coat to get foggy.
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Tree sap can cause car damage, too

Another thing that people often don’t think about is tree sap. According to
, a small amount of tree sap on a car might not make a difference, but it could cause paint damage if left on a car for an extended period of time, especially if it is in the car’s paint finish.
To clean that up, you can dab some rubbing alcohol, according to
Consumer Reports
. You can put the rubbing alcohol on a cloth, or try a tree sap remover.

Protect your car this fall

After clearing the leaves from your car and removing any tree sap, it’s a good idea to get a pre-winter
car wash
. In fact, some car washes may even do it all for you—remove the leaves and for you and do a wash.
After getting a car wash, waxing your car can help protect it further. In fact, you should consider waxing your car once a season to protect its paint. Just be careful not to use too much wax on your car, because it can build up and make the paint look cloudy.
If you do often park under trees, you might also want to get a car cover.

Driving and maintenance for the fall season

Of course, it’s always a good idea to get regularly scheduled
maintenance on your car
, which can also help prevent damage leaves can cause.
Also, don’t forget that wet leaves on a street can make driving very slippery. In fact, when you see wet leaves on the road, you should think of it as driving on ice—slow down, and drive with caution.

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