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Cool temperatures and bright colors epitomize autumn, providing leaf peepers with ample opportunities to take in the vibrant hues of the season. Soon, however, that colorful cornucopia of golden yellows, blazing reds and pumpkin oranges will begin to drop, covering everything, including your car in a sea of foliage. If not addressed immediately, you will discover that autumn leaves damage car paint, as sap and chemicals leech into the finish. The solution here is straightforward, and thoughtful prevention will keep you from having to repeat these steps.


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

Leaves damage car paint and, in worst case scenarios, will leave a fossil-like silhouette on your car. To avoid scratching the paint, remove each leaf by hand, one by one instead of with a broom or a leaf blower, which may cause damage.

Another way to avoid the problem completely is to park your car in a garage or any covered area. When that option is not available, investing in a car cover is a wise decision, especially if you spend any time away, and are not able to tend to your car.


Expect to remove leaves from your car’s surface daily until the trees are free of foliage. You should also anticipate stepping up your car washing initiative throughout the season. Along with being vigilant about removal, consider this approach to keep ahead of the unbroken cascading of autumn leaves:

  • Throughout the season, plan to wash your car regularly. Invest in a liquid car wash solution, use a microfiber wash mitt, as it is both absorbent and extra soft, and dry your car with a microfiber drying towel. For stains that have already permeated the paint, use denatured alcohol or distilled vinegar to treat the spots. Then, immediately apply the car wash solution to protect the paint.

  • Wax your car as soon as the season ends. Once the last of the leaves have dropped, follow up your final wash by waxing the car. This would be a good time to detail your car, paying extra special attention to the trim, the wheels and to the interior. Invest in tire & wheel cleaner, cloth or leather shampoo and trim and plastic restorer. It is ideal timing to get this job done,with winter approaching it will enable you to protect the paint from road salt and other abrasives in the coming months.

Pumpkins, candy corn and vibrant fall foliage are among the highlights of the season, but at the same time your car is under constant assault. This is a battle you can win, however, by removing leaves promptly and washing your car with regularity. Spare nothing here — give your car a vigorous cleaning inside and out to provide the protection it deserves.

Check out all the paint & body products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how leaves damage car paint, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

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