Best Tire Dressing
Why the best may not be what you think!

best auto detailing tip

As a professional, I am often asked what is the best tire dressing. Just like many other areas of life, finding a good tire dressing is an area that is filled with much bad information.

While a casual observation would lead most to oversimplify the decision process, most people grossly underestimate just how diverse the subject is! Not only are we buried with hundreds of choices of tire dressings, but we are also buried in varying opinions as to what the pros and cons of tire dressings are in the first place.

What We are Going to Learn:

  • Why use tire dressing?
  • The difference between water base and silicone base tire dressings.
  • Darren's top pick for tire dressing.
  • Darren's professional tips.
mothers best tire dressing

Why Dress our Tires?

  • Visual enhancement for the sidewall.
  • Helps protect against premature aging.

The reality is that while most tire dressings are labeled as both shine creators and tire protectors, most tires will have to be replaced due to worn tread before the damages of weather would ever cause you to replace your tires. So in my professional opinion, most people including myself are more concerned with the visual enhancement of a quality tire dressing than the tire dressing's ability to actually prevent premature aging.

Water-Base vs. Oil-Base Tire Dressings:

  • Water base can be diluted with water.
  • Silicone/solvent/oil base dressings are made to be water resistant and last longer than water base dressings.

It used to be that oil/silicone based tire dressings that are promoted as log-lasting tire shine, were a major problem when used over long periods of time as they would collect dirt and dust causing most people to add layer upon layer of this shiny stuff. After a period of time, what was being created was a thick, greasy build-up of tire dressing and dirt.

With advances in chemical engineering, now you can have the best of both worlds:

  • Oil based dressings that stand up long term.
  • Oil based dressings that dry to the touch eliminating the majority of the dirt build-up.

With these advances in chemical engineering, now the major decision in shopping a top rated tire dressing will comes down to other factors based on whether you are a professional doing many cars, or a driveway detailer working on your personal cars.

best tire dressing tesla

Retail Tire Dressings
Professional Tire Dressings
Commercial Tire Dressings

As a rule, you need to understand that there really is a difference between retail products and commercial/professional grade products. Regardless of the industry you are dealing with, professional grade tools and products have not been "dumbed-down" like traditional retail, over-the-counter products in order to protect product manufacturers from the liability of stupid people. (yes I said it. Some people are a special kind of stupid and manufacturers must protect their asses and dumb-down products to the lowest common denominator of society)

csi nu tyre lotion

Marketing to an Ignorant Consumer

Since the world at large tends to grossly over-simplify everything, big business exploits our ignorance to their advantage of endlessly figuring out clever ways to separate you and your money.

So shopping for what you consider to be the best tire dressing will be a disappointing experience over the long term as the industry will package their tire dressing in ways that will lead you down the wrong path.

Darren's Tips: If you decide you are going to run out and purchase an off-the-shelf tire dressing and ignore my professional recommendations, then really any tire dressing will likely perform to your satisfaction. If you like the idea of getting a higher quality tire dressing with the added benefits of advanced chemical engineering, then follow my suggestions below.

Top Pick Tire Dressing:
Commercial Grade

CSI Nu Tyre Lotion Quart 62-208-Q

  • True waterborne technology (this means that water is the actual "carrier" of the active ingredients. Unlike other products that claim to be water base that only have water "added" to the formulation, rather than water being the true carrier of the active ingredients)
  • No slinging; dries to touch
  • Not the choice if you are looking for that wet, greasy, overly-shiny appearance
  • My pick as the best tire dressing (partly due to the fact that I am able to verify the ingredients first hand by the actual formulator)
  • Body shop safe (one of the reasons this makes this a commercial grade formulation)
  • True professional grade tire dressing
  • Can be diluted down with water (perfect for when you are dressing wheel wells and engines)

adams tire shine

Darren's Tips: When it comes to dressing your tires and choosing what you would call the best tire dressing; everyone has a different opinion. Not just with which tire dressing is the best, but how they want their tires to look when dressed. Some prefer a hyper-shine, some prefer a more subtle shine, and some prefer zero-shine.

Many guys also become fixated on a tire dressing that will last repeated car washings. But these are reserved for the heavy solvent/silicone based dressing that tend to be very greasy and oily.

When I first discovered the difference between water resistant tire dressings and water based tire dressings it didn't make sense to me. I felt that a water based dressing would be so temporary and simply wash off with the first car washing. But the reality is that a quality water based dressing is like latex paint. A water base paint that is wet and goes on wet, but when it dries, it dries to the touch and is actually water "tight". Think of the Nu Tyre Lotion like latex paint for your ties. Except we are talking about a tire dressing not paint.

Best Tire Dressing:
Retail Grade

Adam's SiO2 Infused Tire Shine Plus 16oz - Achieve a Lustrous, Dark, Long Lasting Shine - Non-Greasy and No Sling Formulation Infused with SiO2 for Increased a Longer, Durable Shine (16 oz)

  • Perfect size for any car owner looking for professional results without having to buy excessive amount of product.
  • Exceptional results with no sling!
  • One of my favorites in a bite-size amount.
  • SiO2 infused formulation

Best Tire Dressing:
Professional grade

Optimum (OB2008Q) Opti-Bond Tire Gel - 32 oz.

  • Enter the world of professional detailing
  • Unlike the body shop safe formulation of the CSi Nu Tyre Lotion from above, this is considered and used by many professional detailers
  • No-sling formulation dries to the touch

Darren's Professional Tips:

I have been using the Nu Tyre Lotion (from above) for over a decade and continue to use it to this day. It is only recently become available to the public since it was originally designed to be body shop safe and meant for the true professional level.

This product is true waterborne technology so it is completely acceptable to dilute it down with water particularly if you want to use it as a wheel well dressing or an engine dressing.

You must also note that the tire you are applying any product you consider to be the best tire dressing will be dramatically affected by the composition of the rubber tire you are trying to dress.

This simply means that everywhere else in life; not all tires are created equal. So you can buy the best tire dressing in the world and apply it to the side wall of your tires that are made with inferior rubber composition, and the side wall fails to produce any shine. This is not because of the tire dressing, but because of the rubber composition of the tire sidewall.

Best Tire Dressing Applicator

The natural follow up question after picking he best tire dressing is choosing an applicator. I often find myself wondering how this industry I am part of has yet to come up with better solutions to some very basic needs.

Tire dressing applicators has been one of those. And like many other times in my professional life, I find I must go outside my own industry to find that winning combination. The grout sponge below is the best tire dressing applicator I have ever found and continue to use to this day; over 10 years later!

Kraft Tool PL600L General Purpose Large Turtle Back Cellulose Sponge Box

Darren's Professional Tips:

I can promise you, "You will not find a better applicator than the grout sponge if used as I show in the video or outlined here:

  • When you order one; you are really getting two.
  • I cut in half and get two for the price of one.
  • I like the thick side for handling, and the thin edge for applying dressing to the tight area between the wheel lip and the tire side-wall.
  • Get sponge completely wet with tap water, then wring out as tightly as possible.
  • Apply your choice in tire dressing to the flat side of the sponge; not to the side wall of the tire.
  • Use the sponge in the most appropriate manner based on the type of side wall and wheel combination your are dealing with. (You can get creative here as there are many angles and surfaces to your newly configured tire dressing applicator)
  • After you use it, you can either let it dry as is, or rinse and let it air dry. Either way, make sure to get wet, wring out, and your applicator will last you months to years based on how often you use it.
  • No other applicator I have ever used comes close to the user experience of this sponge.

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