If wheels are your car’s shoes, the tires are the laces. After you’ve spent time cleaning up your car’s shoes (read Greg’s article here), nothing sets off a detailed car like a set of fresh black tires. Unfortunately, as the miles roll-on, that fresh black look seems to roll-off. Then you’re left with nice shoes, but dirty laces. Knowing how to clean and dress them will not only keep them looking nice and fresh, but prolong their life as well.
The first step is to get the tires clean. Tires collect all kinds of debris from rolling on the ground as well as dust created from braking. These pollutants work their way into the pores of the rubber causing a grey, dirty tire. These pollutants cannot be rinsed off with a hose- not even a pressure washer. For proper cleansing you will need the following:
- A stiff bristled brush (SBB)
- Degreaser of All Purpose Cleaner like Optimum Power Clean
- 2 Buckets (One filled with Water and One with Soapy Water)
- Tire Dressing like Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing
- 1 Tire Dressing Applicator like Lake Country Tire Dressing Applicator
Begin by wetting the tires with a hose.
Then apply the Optimum Power Clean generously to the presoak the tire.
It can be used at full strength but I find 2:1 or 3:1 dilutions to be effective for general use. Allow the Optimum Power Clean to dwell while you fill up your buckets.
If it is a very hot and sunny day, fill your buckets ahead of time so the Optimum Power Clean doesn’t dry on your tires (you don’t want to allow it to dry although it won’t cause irreversible damage).
Next, agitate the tire’s sidewall with the SBB. Rinse the brush with every couple of swipes on the tire in the clean water.
Then, wash the tire with soapy water to neutralize any residue from the Optimum Power Clean and rinse with the hose.
Allow the tire to dry while you work your way around the rest of the 3 tires. This is also a good time to check tire pressure (and don’t forget the spare).
Now that the tires are clean, it’s time to give them that fresh look and help protect them from destructive UV rays. While the level of shine you like is a personal preference, the type of dressing you select is easy to recommend.
Dressings come in two varieties: Solvent Based (which are clear and greasy) and Water Based (which are milky). Aside from being non-biodegradable and often slinging up onto your paint while you drive away, solvent-based silicone dressings contain an compound known as Dimethyl (DMS) which leeches the elasticity from the tire causing it to harden prematurely. It also advances the movement of Antiozonant out of the rubber, causing premature browning of the tire called “blooming”. Antiozonant is added to the rubber to block Ozone and UVrays from damaging the rubber. As the DMS evaporates, it takes all the positive properties of the rubber with it, leaving behind a hard rubber and an unnaturally shiny tire that will attract dirt like flypaper.
Water based dressings (like Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing) contains a silicone based organic polymer known as PDMS. It is used in everyday items like shampoo to leave hair silky and shiny. In addition, they often contain products that assist in UV blocking, are non-toxic, and are largely biodegradable. They won’t last as long as a solvent based dressing, but the benefits (and even the cost) are worth their use; and, they don’t attract dirt like their counterparts. Unlike solvent based dressings, Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing can be diluted to become more cost effective and control the amount of shine or sheen you desire.
Last come the application of the dressing. Apply via sprayer or pour the like Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing onto the Lake Country Tire Dressing Applicator. When using a sprayer, it is better if you dilute the dressing 1:1 – 4:1 (depending on your desired level of shine) so that it sprays rather than streams out of the bottle. If you apply too much, it will run, but it can always be wiped even with a microfiber or second Lake Country Tire Dressing Applicator. Do this to all four tires, and you are finito!
Here you can see the difference between dressed and not-dressed.
And one more time…After:
So the next time you shine your shoes, don’t forget the laces. Spend a few extra minutes now, and they will provide you with a few extra miles in the future.