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Falling leaves haunting your car every fall? Well, no more!

  • Cars Explained
  • Natasha Young
  • 6 minutes

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With its crisp air and beautiful foliage, fall beckons leaf peepers to enjoy the season’s changing colors. A sea of leaves will soon cover everything, including your car. Thanks to the gorgeous cornucopia of gold-hued tones, fiery reds, and pumpkin-orange hues that have been on display. Autumn leaves can damage your car’s paint if you don’t address them right away.¬† Are you wondering how to protect your car from falling leaves or leaf stains? Well, this is the blog you have been waiting for!

Falling leaves haunting your car

Why falling leaves and cars are not buddies

So, you’re driving down a country road when you notice a massive pile of dried leaves on the ground. What are you going to do, commit to full-on mode and blow those leaves all over the road? It might be a pretty slow-mo sight, but the issue is that the bottom layer of those leaves is usually coated with water. It acts like glue, bonding directly on top of your car’s paint job. ¬†This is the point at which chemical contamination begins.¬†

Let’s be clear: not all tree leaves have the same chemical make-up or composition. The majority of fallen foliage in the USA consists of multiple layers. These layers absorb UV rays and convert them into energy via a chemical process involving Chlorophyll.¬†The leaf is an important component of the tree that absorbs CO2. When all of these active ingredients are combined, a process known as photosynthesis converts them into sugar and oxygen.¬†

There is an epidermis layer, similar to human skin, that serves as the outer portion of the leaf that adheres to your vehicle’s paint, windows, headlight covers, and plastic trim. This is the area where a wax substance known as the cuticle is secreted. It’s acidic in nature, and because it’s sticky when activated by water – it bonds to your car’s paint.¬†This is when the damage begins because the acids in the leaves of trees such as Oaks, Maples, and Aspens are extremely potent. In fact, studies show that many of the leaf toxins are just as harmful as bird droppings. This is common in sap-producing trees.¬†

When fallen leaves are mixed with water, the corrosion process begins, as the electrolytes aid in the degradation of a paint’s clear coating, as well as the top layer of plastics, rubber, and even glass. If the leaf is left on the vehicle for an extended period of time, it can cause stains that can only be removed through paint correction. Rust will form as a result of continued exposure.¬†

Can falling leaves cause other car problems? 

That would be an unequivocal YES. Leaves are a leading cause of paint damage, window stains, and corrosion on a variety of unprotected plastics and headlight covers. However, leaves on the road reduce traction, which can lead to accidents when turning. This problem is exacerbated when water, snow, and ice are mixed in with the leaves. 

Fallen leaves will also stick to the front of the vehicle, obstructing the radiator and causing overheating issues with warm water overflowing and causing engine damage. A leaf can also clog your filters, including the air intake, get stuck between your brake calipers and rotors, and even cause steering problems.  

How to get rid of falling leaves or the stains from your car?

Expect to get rid of falling leaves or the stains from your car’s surface daily until the trees are leaf-free. You should also plan on increasing your car washing efforts throughout the season. Along with being vigilant about removal, consider the following strategy to keep up with the unbroken cascade of autumn leaves:¬†

  • Drive down to a car wash near you regularly throughout the season.
  • Invest in a liquid car wash solution, a microfiber wash mitt that is both absorbent and extra soft, and a microfiber drying towel to dry your car.
  • Treat stains that have already penetrated the paint using denatured alcohol or distilled vinegar. Then, apply the car wash solution right away to protect the paint.¬†
  • As soon as the season is over, wax your car.¬†
  • Detail your car, paying special attention to the trim, wheels, and interior.
  • Purchase a tire and wheel cleaner, cloth or leather shampoo, and trim and plastic restorer. With winter approaching, now is an excellent time to complete this task, as it will allow you to protect the paint from road salt and other abrasives in the coming months.¬†

How to protect your car from falling leaves beforehand?

You can completely avoid this issue by removing leaves from the surface of your car regularly. The nutrient-rich plant parts decomposing wherever they land, releasing tannic acid, sap, and other chemicals onto your car, is how leaves damage car paint. 

Leaves deteriorate car paint and, in the worst-case scenario, leave a fossil-like silhouette on your vehicle. Remove each leaf by hand, one by one, to avoid scratching the paint, rather than using a broom or a leaf blower, which may cause damage. 

Another option is to park your car in a garage or other covered area to avoid the problem entirely. When that option is not available, investing in a car cover is a wise decision, especially if you are away for an extended period of time and are unable to care for your vehicle. 

Why does your car need a pre-winter car wash?

After you’ve cleared the leaves from your car, wrap them in a tarp and toss them into the woods. Or perhaps not. In any case, you should get them out of your driveway.¬†What you should really do after that is get it washed. Washing your car will help remove any remaining debris while removing all traces of pollen and sap from the paint. ¬†After you’ve given your car a thorough pre-winter wash, consider experts’ advice and wax it. A good coat of wax will not only keep your car looking new but will also protect it from the upcoming winter weather.¬†

Pumpkins, candy corn, and vibrant fall foliage are among the season’s highlights, but your car is constantly under attack. This is a battle you can win if you remove leaves promptly and wash your car on a regular basis. Spare no expense when it comes to cleaning your car, both inside and out, to ensure that it receives the proper protection. There is no denying the importance of vehicle maintenance. While you may not consider clearing your car of leaves to be part of routine maintenance, protecting your car from falling leaves should be at the top of your list this season.

Struggling to find the best car wash for your car in your neighborhood? We recommend you to visit Way.com or download the Way app (available on iOS and Android). Enjoy a safe and touch-free car wash experience with Way. Just scan and drive away with a spotless car!

Car Wash offer by Way.com

Read our blogs for information on the best airport parking and hourly parking spots near you and the most affordable insurance for your car.


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