When it comes to making a car stand out from the crowd, tire dressing is one of the “little things” that can make a big difference. However, tire dressing isn’t as simple as it seems. There are different types of dressing available with different finishes, and some of the dressings even help to protect your tires long-term.

Shiny Tire
Tire dressing is usually an after-thought, but it shouldn’t be. There’s quite a bit to know about choosing the right compound and applying it correctly.

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about tire dressing, courtesy of detailing expert Joe Seals of SoCal Mobile Auto Detail & Wash.

Which Tire Dressing is Right for You?

There are two types of tire dressing on the market – water based and non-water based. While both will help to protect your tires from the sun’s harmful UV radiation when applied properly, the similarities stop their.

NOTE: Both kinds of tire dressing come in aerosol sprays, foams, gels, and even hand-pumped spray containers. The only way to tell the difference is to look at the label.

The benefits of water-based tire dressing are numerous:

  • Water-based tire dressing is environmentally friendly and non-toxic.
  • While you’re applying it, you don’t have to worry nearly as much about getting it on yourself and your clothes as non-water-based dressings.
  • Water-based dressing does not harm the environment.
  • Water-based dressing also won’t harm the paint job if some gets sprayed on the body of the car.
  • Water-based tire dressing is non-stick, so it’s easy to clean off any overspray, and dirt won’t stick to your tire sidewalls.

Water-based dressing is also great for jobs that need several layers, as it will layer smoothly.

Non water-based tire dressings (typically oil or solvent based) offer some advantages, but you have to be very careful when using these chemicals, as proper application is important. If you apply these non-water-based dressings incorrectly, they can dry and/or crack the surface of your tires.

Benefits of solvent-based tire dressing include:

  • Greater resistance to water
  • Longer-lasting than water-based tire dressing
  • Offer more shine than water-based tire dressing

However, more care must be taken when applying these non water-based dressings, as they can harm paint jobs and sometimes even wheels.

Whatever you choose, it’s important to read reviews on the tire dressing you’re planning to use.

Finally, in terms of application, the best method (spray, foam, gel, etc.) is really up to you. Pick the one that sounds easiest to use, and remember that some aerosol products can be flammable, so avoid open flames when using.

Tire Shine Application Tips
Tire Shine Application Tips

Tire Dressing Application Tips

The best application tip of all is to follow the directions closely! Too many people ignore the directions when they apply their tire dressing, and the end result shows it. Either the shine is uneven, it’s dull, or – in some cases – the tires have turned brown and/or started to crack.

So, tip number one is to read the directions carefully.

Other tips:

  • Foam applicators can be used for regular spray-on tire shine. Just spray the foam, then wipe it on the tire. It takes a while, but the result is an even and accurate application.
  • Avoid “sling” (excess tire shine being slung onto your vehicle’s paint job) by wiping away excess tire shine “goop” – a shop rag is good for this task
  • A shop rag is also great for wiping away any dressing that gets on your wheels
  • Take your time – hastily applied tire dressing doesn’t last as long and often finds it’s way onto your paint and wheels.
  • To minimize sling, apply tire dressing after you wash your car but before you detail the interior. This will give the dressing time to soak in, set, and/or drain away.

Keep Those Tires Looking Good

Tire dressing is the best way to keep your tires looking sharp. Whether you’re looking to land that interview, or just impress your friends when you park your car on the golf course or on the sidewalk, remember that shiny tires matter. If your tires aren’t shiny yet, run to the store and dress them properly.

Author Joe Seals is the owner of SoCal Mobile Auto Detail & Wash, A Professional Mobile Auto Detailing Company. Be sure to check out his very popular Auto Detailing Blog at http://autodetailingblog.thesocalway.com stop by and leave a comment.

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