Tire dressing is essential in restoring the dark gloss of tires. It also protects your tires from harmful UV rays and dry rotting making them last longer.

Tire dressing formulas can either be water or solvent-based. They work by rehydrating and lubricating dry rubber, which prevents them from cracking, fading and wearing out. There is a standard procedure to apply tire dressing which we will cover below. It is important to note that at all times, the tire you are dressing is clean and dry.

Every car owner will want to restore and maintain the dark shiny gloss of their car tires. Tire dressing has got you covered on this. You can do it at home through homemade dressings or get a professional to do the work for you. 

The information contained in this guide is a result of comprehensive research from top tire dressing manufacturers and car detailing dealers. Some of the top manufacturers’ views herein include brands like Car Guys, 3M, Meguiars, Detail King, and Auto Magic. Therefore, this guide has everything you need to know about tire dressing and how to go about it.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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What is Tire Dressing?

Tire dressing is the use of chemical formula on faded tires with the aim to restore the dark high-gloss of the tire.

What is the Best Tire Dressing?

Before we focus on the best tire dressing, they are of three different categories.  They include waxes, dressings and sealants. The best type of dressings are made of water or solvent and silicone materials. They primarily rehydrate and lubricate dry rubber, hence preventing it from fading and wearing out.

The wax type of tire dressings are similar to shoe polish, while the sealant types are synthetic. The best type of dressings is water-based because they revitalize, prevent cracking and fading, and are environment friendly.

However, this is exactly the opposite with solvent-based dressings in which the petroleum distillates cause more harm and expedite cracking.

Differences between Solvent and Water-based Tire Dressing

The differences between the two is evident from the physical and chemical properties. You can also differentiate them by observing the end results, as stated in the table below.

How to Apply Tire Dressing

Different manufacturers give directions on how to apply tire dressing because of the different forms available. However, there is a general guide in applying tire dressings, as outlined below.

Properly clean the tire

Properly clean the tires to remove all the dirt, grime and dust. Use the correct equipment like a pressurized horse pipe and adequate amount of water to clean your tires.

Let the tire dry

Wipe the excess water and let the tire dry. It is recommended to let the tire dry because it reduces the chances of the dressing dripping or slinging. However, some tire dressing manufacturers allow application of tire dressing even before the tires dry.

Apply the tire dressing

Follow the manufacturers’ direction during the application due to the availability in different forms. The forms could be aerosols, solvent-based, or waxes. The rule of thumb from professionals is to apply the tire dressing using foam regardless of the form of the dressing.

Let the tire dressing sit for a few minutes

The duration to let the dressing sit is indicated on the product that you bought. However, 10 to 20 minutes is enough.

Wipe the excess dressing

Wipe the excess dressing from the tires to allow easy and effective absorption of the dressing. Removal of the excess dressing also prevents dirt from sticking to the tire and dust on the brakes as well.

What does Tire Dressing do?

There are a number of functions that tire dressing does to your tires.

The first one is restoring the dark shiny look. Everyone desires that dark shining look on their tires, and tire shine gives you precisely that.

Second, tire dressing protects your tires from fading, hardening, and cracking.  This is possible through the rehydrating properties of the solvents used in tire dressings.

They also protect the sidewalls of your tires hence making them remain shiny and last long.

What Type of Tire Dressing to Use on Car Tires?

You can use the Meguiars Tire and Trim water-based gel on your motorcycle tires. This is because it results in a deep consistent satin finish without slinging. The finish also dries on touch and is not oily.

However, it’s important to note that you should not apply the dressing to the bottom part because it increases slipperiness. Due to this reason, most professionals advise car owners against using tire dressing on their cars to prevent the occurrence of accidents.

Applying Tire Dressing to Tires When Rims are Plasti Dipped

When applying tire dressing to tires whose rims have plasti dip, your main aim is to ensure the tire shine doesn’t land on the plasti dip. First, you can cover the rims with a tape or paper cards before you spray the tire shine.

The second option is to apply the tire shine to your preferred applicator and rub it carefully on the tires. You can use a microfiber towel or an applicator pad to massage the tire dressing into the tire without touching the rims.

What is a Good Tire Dressing?

The characteristics and components of a tire shine will determine how good it is. Here are some of the characteristics that qualify a tire dressing to be good.

  1. The chemical compounds in the formulation should give a dark, shiny, and long-lasting finish.
  2. It should have UV  protecting components
  3. Free from drips and runs.
  4. It should be eco-friendly and offer additional protection from outside elements.
  5. Its finish should be dry to touch with no tire sling.

How Do You Make Your Tire Dressing

There are four ways that you can use to make tire dressing at home. Below is an outline of the requirements and the stepwise method to follow in making your tire dressings. The four ways include:

Use of Alcohol and Castor Oil

It involves mixing castor oil and alcohol to make your tire dressing. You will need the following ingredients and measurements.

  • 100ML Castor oil
  • 300ML rubbing alcohol
  • 30ML dish soap
  • 2 gallons of clean water

Method

  1. Clean the tire with enough water.
  2. Clean the tire again with alcohol.
  3. Mix the dish soap with warm water and clean the tire again.
  4. With a clean towel, apply alcohol to the tire.
  5. With a new towel, clean the tire in a circular motion with castor oil.

Using Baby Oil

Baby oil is made from natural ingredients, and it will leave your tire shining with no negative effects because it doesn’t have harmful chemicals. You will need the following in the tire dressing process.

  • Baby oil one full cup
  • A half-cup of water
  • At least 2 drops dish soap
  • Clean towels

Method

  1. To the cup of oil, add 3 drops of soap followed by the half-cup of water.
  2. Stir hard to ensure they mix well
  3. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake thoroughly
  4. Spray the mixture on the tire with the spray bottle and wipe with a clean towel.

It is the best homemade tire dressing that is cheap and keeps your tires looking new for a long time.

Using Lemon Oil

Lemon oil protects your tires from UV rays rotting and tear. It acts as a rubber conditioner, and below are the ingredients and steps to follow.

  • 15ML Lemon oil
  • 30ML dish soap
  • 2 gallons of clean water
  • 50ML Borax
  • Brush

Method 

  1. Mix the borax, water, and dish soap in a bucket and stir.
  2. Add lemon oil to the mixture and stir again.
  3.  Using the brush, clean the tire using the mixture.
  4. Dip the tire in the mixture, wring and let it dry.

Using Dawn Dish Wash Detergents

This type of homemade tire dressing leaves your tires clean, protects them from UV rays, and prolongs their life. You will need the following in making the tire shine.

  • The detergent (Dawn Dish)
  • A spraying bottle with rubbing alcohol
  • A hand brush
  • A lint-free cloth
  • Warm water

Method  

  1. To a bucket of warm water, add few drops of the detergent
  2. Using a tough scrub and soap, clean the tires with the solution
  3. Allow the tire to sit for about 5 minutes
  4. Rinse the tire to remove all residual dirt and grime before you spray the rubbing alcohol
  5. Separately spray all tire sections and clean them with a lint-free cloth.
  6. Allow the tires to completely dry.
  7. Lastly, apply castor oil sparingly with the clean cloth

In addition to the above four, other options to consider include Mustard, Mayonnaise, motor and vegetable oil.

What Do You Use to Apply Tire Dressing?

You can use the different applicators to do tire dressing. Choose one that works best for you and ensure your tires are clean before you apply your dressing. Note that applying tires dressing on dirty tires will not give you the desired results.

Using a Dressing Brush

Using a dressing brush ensures your hands get into least contact with the tire shine. During the application process, apply the dressing to the brush. Dress the contours of the tire carefully in both directions. Do not apply the dressing on the alloys of the wheels. Wipe any excess dressing from the tire after you finish dressing to prevent any sling.

Using a Curved Applicator Pad

It’s one of the quick and easy ways of applying tire dressing. You can use the applicator pad for a long time without the need to replace it.  During the application process, apply the dressing to the applicator directly. Apply and spread evenly the dressing on the contours in all directions. Wipe any excess of the dressing before you let the tire dry.

Use of Microfiber Cloth

Select a cloth or pad that you will not use for any other purpose. Apply the tire dressing on the cloth directly before dressing your tires. Workaround the contours with a back and forth motion to evenly dress the tire.  Clean any excess of the tire dressing to prevent tire sling

What Brand of Tire Dressing Prevents Tires from Dry Rotting?

Meguiar silicone-based tire dressing is good when storing tires for long. It’s perfect for preventing dry rotting because it rehydrates and revitalizes the rubber of your tires.

What is Formula V Tire Dressing?

Formula V tire dressing is a traction treatment made specifically to restore as well as maintain the softness in racing tires. It replenishes the ingredients lost to heat hence allowing more cycles on the track than normal. Besides the tire freshness, it increases the racing speed as well as the tire’s life.  

My Factory Car Manual Says Not to Use Tire Dressing on it. Why?

The main reason why your car manufacturer is against the use of tire dressing is tire damage. Some of the tire shine products have petroleum distillates that cause degeneration. Other reasons include aerosol sprays that damage brakes and tire sling which may damage the paint of the car.

What is the Purpose of Tire Dressing?

Besides the shiny glossy appearance that tire shine gives your tires, it serves other important purposes. They include protecting your tires from road grime, harmful UV rays, and other contaminants. Tire shine also revitalizes the tire’s rubber by rehydration which prevents them from cracking, fading, hardening and dry rotting.

All the above-mentioned purposes aim at the durability of your tires and better service.

How Does Tire Dressing Work

The polymers, chemicals, and synthetic compounds in tire dressing work against the antiozonant compound that causes tire degradation. They penetrate your tires and rehydrate them, thus preventing them from drying, cracking and fading and browning.

How to Remove Old Silicone Dressing from the Tire

The Adams and Meguiar APCs are among the strong rubber cleaners that you can use to remove old silicone dressing for tires. You just need to spray the cleaner on the tire and allow the silicone dressing to bubble out. After that, you can use a brush to scrub the tire clean.

What is the Difference in Silicone Tire Dressing?

Tire dressings with silicone as an active ingredient are different from other types of dressings. Silicone is a non-toxic and generally inert chemical that is eco-friendly to the environment. However, it interferes with paint on cars which is the reason why some manufacturers restrict the use of this type of tire dressing.

How Long Should I Wait After Applying Tire Dressing

Wait at least 30 minutes before you drive off after applying tire dressing. This gives the dressing ample time to dry and at the same time, minimizes the chances of tire sling from the wet tire shine.

How is Biotech Tire Dressing?

Biotech tire shire is specially formulated to lubricate the rubber of your tires, leaving them with a wet shiny look. It has UV inhibitors that protect your tires from harsh weather conditions, drying and cracks.

Features

  • Easy and quick to apply tire shine
  • Dries fast with a high-gloss shiny finish
  • It’s solvent-based with long-lasting results
  • It prevents your tires from turning brown and keeps them looking new
  • It’s a concentrated tire shine with water-repelling characteristic for extra protection

What Kind of Tire Dressing Do Dealers Use

Most car dealers use only the best types of tire shines. They go for those that last long, don’t sling, wet shiny looks, and quick-drying types of tire shine. Some with such characteristics include 3M, Detail King, Meguiars and Auto Magic.

Nitro® Xtreme Gloss Tire Dressing Where to Buy

You can buy this type of tire dressing on Amazon and have it delivered to your doorstep or garage. It is one of the longest-lasting tire shines, and it lasts up to 30 days. It is packaged in aerosol cans and protects your tires against UV rays. Below are some of its features.

  • It offers a brilliant shine within minutes and lasts long
  • Short drying time
  • It has no sling
  • An easy and quick to apply aerosol spray.

What Type of Dressing is Meguiars Endurance Tire Gel?

Meguiar Endurance tire shine is a silicone-based tire shine with advanced polymer formulation to offer your tires extra protection. Below are its characteristics.

  • A long-lasting tire shine that can last up to two weeks
  • It coats your tires with no runs or overspray
  • It gives your tires a shiny dark gloss look
  • Protects your tires from UV rays maintaining their new look

How Long Does Tire Dressing Last

Tire dressings will last from a few days up to a month. This depends on the type and quality of tire dressing you use on your tires.  Nitro® Xtreme Gloss is an example of tire shine that lasts up to 30 days.

How to Apply Tire Dressing from an Aerosol Can

You can apply tire dressing from aerosol cans by either using microfiber towels or wetting it on foam applicators. Rub the towel or foam with the dressing, rub it on the tires and let it dry. In some instances though, you can hold the aerosol can 4-6 inches and spray the dressing on the tire. The fast method is better to avoid oversprays.  

How to Stop Tire Dressing Overspray On Wheels

You can prevent tire dressing overspray by using applicator foams to apply the tire shine. Bury the spray can’s nozzle into the foam and spray the dressing into it. Apply the dressing evenly to the foam, including its edges. Use the foam to rub the tire shine on the sidewalls of your tire. Following this procedure will prevent any overspray on the wheels.

How To Clean Tire Dressing off Plastic

All Purpose Cleaner (APC) works effectively in removing tire dressing from plastic products without leaving any stains, spots, or streaks.

How to Tell if a Tire Dressing is Water-based

Many tire dressing users find it challenging to tell apart the different types of tire dressings. You can differentiate them by appearance and how they react with environmental components like dust.

Water-based tire shines are milky-white and slippery fluids in appearance.  When they are applied on tires, they have a satin appearance. They are also less sticky when you compare them with solvent-based tire dressings.

Lastly, they are less likely to cause tire sling or attract dust. If otherwise, it’s minimal and can do no damage to the paint of your car due to the eco-friendly substances in them.

What is the Dollar Amount of Tire and Vinyl Dressing Sold in the United States?

The rough estimate of the cost of a gallon of vinyl tire dressing in the United States is between $24.99 and $35.89.

How to Apply Tire Dressing Spray

Before you apply tire dressing spray on your tires, ensure they are clean and dry.

  1. Hold the spray bottle between 4 to 6 inches from the tire you are spraying.
  2. Spray only on the rubber surface of the dry tire, avoiding any contact with the alloy.
  3. Allow the tire to dry for about 5 minutes.
  4. Don’t wipe any runs or drips; they will disappear eventually.
  5. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and repeat the process

How to Remove Tire Dressing Marks off the Driveway

Removal of tire dressing marks is not an obvious cleaning procedure. With the below stepwise guide, you can get rid of the marks easily. You will need a power washer, stiff scrub brush and a degreaser solution.

  1. Clean your driveway to remove any dirt and debris that may make the cleaning process tedious.
  2. Pour the degreaser on the tire dressing mark and allow it to sit for about half an hour. Be on the lookout to ensure it doesn’t dry off. You can add the degreaser to saturation for easier removal of the stains.
  3. Using the stiff scrub brush or floor scrubber, scrub aggressively to remove the dressing marks.
  4. You can add more of the degreaser as you repeat the scrubbing process.
  5. With the power washer, wash off the greaser and the dressing marks to leave your driveway clean.

What Brand of Tire Dressing does Audi Dealerships Use

Audi Dealerships use the Audi 16oz tire shine, which is silicone-based. It produces a rich, deep, dark appearance after dressing.

Why Tire Dressing Looks Awful

Your tire dressing may look awful due to the following reasons.

  1. You applied the dressing on a dirty or wet tire.
  2. Failure to follow the recommended instructions and application procedures
  3. Excessive application of the tire shine can also give an awful look.
  4. After application, you didn’t allow the tire to sit and dry before driving off.

What is a Tire Dressing Sling?

A tire dressing sling is a scenario where the dressing on the dressing on the tire is flung to a vehicle’s fender, side, or wheel alloys. This is majorly due to the application of excess dressing, improper application, or not allowing the dressing to dry. Poor quality tire dressings can also cause tire sling.

How to prevent tire sling

Prevention is better than trying to remove the tire sling from the side of your vehicle. Below are three sure ways to prevent tire sling.

  1. Use liquid instead of gel dressings

Many professionals recommend the use of liquid dressing to gel dressing because it easily absorbs into the tire. Gel dressings, on the other hand, are thick and clump to the rubber surface. Despite both having their advantages and disadvantages, liquid tire shines are better in preventing tire sling.

  1. Follow the application guidelines by the manufacturer

Due to the different forms in which tire shines are available, ensure you follow the application guidelines.  Following the guidelines ensures you apply the gel or spray correctly and allow the required time to dry for each type. Incorrect application is one major cause for tire sling due to failure to follow instructions.

  1. Clean the excess dressing from the tire

Any excess tire dressing left on the tire will cause tire sling. In many cases, this occurs with gel dressing.  Remove any excess of the gel to prevent the same from happening.

What is the Shiniest Tire Dressing?

The shiniest tire dressing is the Chemical Guys VRP, this is because

  • Its formula penetrates deep into the rubber to restore and maintain the gloss of the tire.
  • The tire dressing protects the tires from fading through the special UV blockers in its formula.
  • Its non-greasy components make it easy and quick to apply, leaving no mess behind, and it’s dry to touch as well.
  • Apart from using it on the tires, you can use it for detailing other parts of your car.

Where to Buy Tuf Shine Tire Dressing

You can buy Tuf Shine online, on amazon. It’s a tire cleaner with the ability to safely remove waxes, grease, silicone and polymers that you may have previously used on your tires. It costs roughly between $11.04 and $44.99, depending on the size you need.

Where to Buy Miracle Glaze Tire Dressing

It’s a non-sling tire shine formulation that you can buy from their online business site. It’s a diverse product that you can use on rubber, leather, plastic and vinyl.

What is the Best and Longest Lasting Tire Shine Dressing

The best and long-lasting tire shine is the Meguiar’s G7516 Endurance.  It is a tire gel with an advanced formula that remains put after washing and rainy seasons.

  • It coats your tire evenly without any drips or overspray.
  • The tire shine gel protects your tire from UV rays which could cause damage and color fade.
  • Due to the polymers in its advanced formula, it maintains the black rich shiny gloss of your vehicle’s tires.
  • Lastly, it doesn’t leave stains or streaks on your driveway.

Advantages and disadvantages of  tire dressing

Tire dressings have their pros as well as constraints, and this depends on the type of dressing in question.

According to tire dressing experts, water-based solvents are the best. Unlike chemical-based formulas, they don’t have harmful compounds that may cause tire degradation and have negative effects on the environment. They also penetrate the tires and are less likely to cause tire sling like wax or gel dressings.

Pros

  1. They protect the sidewalls of tires from fading, cracking and hardening.
  2. They prevent dry rotting by rehydrating the sidewalls of your tires.
  3. Water-based tire dressings are environment-friendly.
  4. Tire dressings are easy to apply; therefore, you can do it on your own.

Cons

  1. When used on motorcycles, they are prone to cause accidents due to the slippery nature.
  2. Petroleum distillates in some chemical-based tire dressing formulas cause tire harm.
  3. Solvent-based types cause a smear-like appearance on car paint due to tire sling if not applied properly.
  4. Aerosol sprays may land on your brake pads which can cause brake failure.

When to Apply Tire Dressing Auto Detailing

You should do tire dressing auto detailing to your tires when you intend to store them for a very long time. This is because sitting tires are prone to dry rotting. Due to the inactivity of sitting tires, they can’t push out the antiozonant to their surfaces.

The accumulation of this compound in the rubber quickly causes cracking, browning, and accelerated tire wear. The detailing treatment protects your tires from such, which prolongs their life.

What is the Easiest Tire Dressing to Use?

Car Guys is the easiest and quickest to use tire dressing. It is available in both gallon and 18-ounce sizes. One major advantage is that you can control the amount you use easily using the 18-ounce holding bottles.

This gives you the liberty to choose the level of shine you want on your tires. It’s non-greasy, dries super quick, and offers your tire protection from UV rays. Besides the quick and ease of use features, its results are long-lasting.

Best Tire Dressing When Storing Your Tires

The best tire dressing to use when you store your tires is the silicone-based tire dressing type. Such types of tire dressings tend to last longer compared to their counterparts. Other essential tips when storing your tires is to ensure they are clean and dry. You can store them vertically or horizontally in tight airbags. Finally, ensure you unmount them from your car and keep them away from direct sunlight.

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding