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Summary
  • Leaf stains occur when the waxy cuticles of fallen leaves bond to your vehicle’s coat. This waxy substance is acidic and has the potential to damage the paint.
  • These stains can be removed with a simple car wash. Soap and friction from a sponge are more than adequate to remove leaf stains.
  • You can prevent leaf stains by parking underneath roofs or protecting your vehicle with a car cover.

Falling leaves during the fall are a beautiful sight. Unfortunately, they can stain your vehicle’s paint if they linger for too long. Leaves are composed of multiple cell layers made from various biochemicals. When they fall on your car, their waxy cuticle coating can bond to your car’s coat. This waxy substance is acidic and sticky and can adhere to your car’s paint if left to linger for some time. This process is accelerated when water is present. If left untreated, this degradation can even penetrate the vehicle’s metal.

The leaves of sap-producing trees like oak, maple, and aspen are especially harmful because they’re more acidic. You might be thinking leaf stains can’t be that bad, but research shows that many leaf compounds are just as harmful as bird droppings.

How to Remove Leaf Stains

Getting rid of leaf stains on car paint is a straightforward task. If the stains aren’t too old, they can come off with a simple car wash. Keep in mind that you need a proper car wash that uses soap, light friction from a sponge, and a rinse to properly remove those light leaf stains. You need a wash and not just a simple hose-down.

If leaf stains have already penetrated the clear coat, you will need to treat the spot with denatured alcohol or vinegar. Afterward, apply a car wash solution so that the spot is protected.

However, if leaf acids have already penetrated the vehicle’s coat, a simple wash may not be enough. You may need to use a clay bar or a polishing compound. There are increasing levels of abrasiveness when it comes to polishing compounds, so buff and polish the affected area with a gentle compound first before going for a more abrasive one.

How to Prevent Leaf Stains

The best way to prevent stains from forming is by manually removing the leaves from your car’s surface every time they fall. Do this gently by lifting the leaves off your vehicle’s coat with your hands. You shouldn’t brush leaves off your car in a bunch with a broom because leaves are abrasive and can scratch your car’s surface. This is why you shouldn’t use a leaf blower to clear the leaves or drive off and rely on the wind to blow them away. You should lift any leaves off your paint as soon as possible especially if the leaves are wet.

The easiest way to prevent leaf stains is to keep leaves from falling on your car by parking under a roof or away from a tree. If those are not viable options , then it could be wise to invest in a car cover.

You should apply wax to your car’s surface to offer an extra layer of protection and shine. This will reduce the appearance of future leaf stains while also protecting your paint from scratches and other damage. With winter approaching, this is an excellent time to complete this task, as it will also protect the paint from road salt and other abrasives in the coming months

Getting Your Hands on a Car Cover for Your Ride

Not a fan of the hassles of clearing leaf stains from your daily driver? Why not prevent it from happening in the first place with a car cover?

CarParts.com is here to help, offering a vast collection of auto parts, tools, and accessories – car covers included. After entering your car’s specifications into our vehicle selector, we’ll sort our selection to show you the car covers that fit your ride. Then, you can use the search filters to find the car covers with your preferred brand, price, material, and color.

You won’t have to worry about your new car cover getting worn and torn any time soon. Our products are carefully handpicked by a team of professionals, so rest assured that they’re all built to last. Order today, and get your new car cover in as fast as two business days, thanks to our fast and reliable shipping.

Shop for a new car cover to protect your vehicle today with CarParts.com.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Automotive Features Reviewer at CarParts.com

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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