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Can falling leaves damage your car? You better be-leaf it. Those crimson and gold autumn leaves can definitely cause problems for your beloved car. Fortunately, protecting it from falling leaves isn’t all that difficult.

A car driving during the fall
Colorful leaves glow in the sunlight while a car is driving along a country road | Matthias Bein/picture alliance via Getty Images

How do falling leaves damage your car?

As beautiful as they may be, falling leaves can be detrimental to the exterior of your vehicle. Not only are they stock full of acidic substances like sap and pollen, but the very substances that they contain can penetrate your car’s clear coat and stain the paint.

Falling leaves are no stranger to your car’s nooks and crannies either. If your car often finds itself sitting in your driveway for long periods of time, it’s bound to wind up covered in leaves at some point. Unfortunately, those can accumulate, get caught under your car’s wipers, or clog its air intakes and drain holes. Sounds messy, right?

Preventing falling leaves from damaging your car

Fortunately, preventing your car from succumbing to leaf damage is pretty simple. If you need to clear a good amount of them from your car, be sure to do so carefully. Start by picking them out with your hands, or use a leaf blower with light air pressure to blow the leaves away.

If leaves have taken up residence in your sunroof drains, you might be moved to grab a wire hanger from your closet and clear them out of there. While clearing leaves in this way sounds like a good idea, it could tear the lining of your sunroof. Instead, try using a vacuum cleaner to remove the leaves.

Leaves tend to accumulate by and under a car’s windshield wipers too. Remove visible leaves with your hands, then pop your car’s hood to clear any leaves that have accumulated around the base of the car’s windshield. 

If you need to remove tree sap from your car this fall, Consumer Reports recommends dabbing spots with rubbing alcohol. You can also try a tree sap remover. Before giving this trick a go, though, John Ibbotson, chief mechanic at the CR Auto Test Center, says you should test the cleaner on a small spot of paint first.

According to Consumer Reports, waxing your car once per season can also prevent damage leaf damage. Investing in a car cover also makes for an easy enough option.


How Often Should You Wash Your Car?

The importance of a pre-winter car wash

After you’ve cleared your car of leaves, it’s time to throw those things on a tarp and yeet them into the woods. Or, maybe not. But, either way, you should clear them out of your driveway. 

Really, what you should do after, is get it washed. Washing your car will help clear away any additional debris, while also removing all traces of pollen and sap from your car’s paint.

Once you’ve treated your car to a thorough pre-winter washing, consider taking Consumer Reports’ advice and waxing your car. Not only will a good coat of wax keep your car looking fresh, but it will also protect your car from the winter weather that’s just around the corner.

Keeping your car on the road for miles to come

There’s no denying that vehicle maintenance is important. And while you might not consider clearing your car of leaves to fall under the regularly scheduled maintenance umbrella, protecting your car from falling leaves should be at the top of your list this autumn.