Tire Cleaners and Dressings: Understanding the difference
Multi-purpose products are always a great find. But using tire cleaners
and dressings as a multi-purpose strategy is not one I personally
recommend, just as I don't use professionally.
Perhaps in the short term it will seem easier and appear to be the winning combination, but unless you are trying to short-cut your way through life and car care, I don't recommend an all-in-one tire cleaner and dressing. If you are looking to reduce your world down to that level, you might as well go in search of home made dressing for tires...which I also don't recommend.
Separating Tire Cleaners from Tire Dressings
While there are products labeled as both "tire cleaners and dressings" that are intended to be a multi-purpose product, I am not a fan of these. I professionally recommend you keep these tasks as separate parts of car care and detailing.
Tires are subject to excessive levels of dirt that a dual-purpose/multi-purpose tire cleaners and dressings cannot adequately deal with over the long term.
I can simplify the process for you so that you can use a tire cleaner that is suitable for many, many uses, and will work very well on cleaning your tires before you put a quality tire dressing on them.
See this link for my professional grade Super-Degreaser for my choice as a fantastic tire cleaner.
And for this reason, I will keep this page dedicated to tire dressing suggestions and helping you find what I consider my first choice in a tire dressing as well as my secondary choices. I am also going to make my "super simple" tire dressing recommendation.
They will all perform with professional grade results, and you can decide which one represents the best value for you based on size and cost.
Best Water Based Tire Dressing
While I have been a big advocate of using water based tire dressings
for many years, it seems the industry has responded and the concept has
began to catch on to mainstream car care and detailing.
"Darren, why do I even need to be concerned with a water-based tire dressing versus any other type of tire dressing?"
Glad you asked!
Why choose a water-based tire dressing?
You want to be able to clean the old dressing off before you reapply a new coating of tire dressing.
You can dilute the tire dressing down with tap water for other detailing jobs like engine detailing, interiors, wheel wells.
Which Tire Would You Prefer on Your Car?
Darren's Professional Tips:
I prefer a classic to shiny sidewall when choosing a tire dressing.
There are tire dressings that dry completely and do not allow dirt and dust to accumulate and stick to your tire's sidewall.
I stay away from the clear, ultra glossy tire dressings as these are typically loaded up with silicone's and heavy solvents that make them very resistant to removal. Generally these are retail products. These hyped up tire dressings remain tacky and allow dirt and dust to accumulate to a high degree. The fact that these high gloss formulations require solvents and added silicone's to make them super glossy also makes them super tacky.
I choose a quality tire dressing that is water based, but is also water-resistant. I want the ability to remove the old layer of dressing using a quality degreaser each and every time I reapply a new layer of tire dressing.
"The picture below is what happens over time as your tire builds-up dirt and brake dust."
I'm a bit confused! You preach using a water-based tire dressing, but how can a water-based dressing also be water-resistant?"
Glad you asked!
of it like latex paint. Back in the day we only had oil based paints.
Because of the harmful chemicals used in these oil based products, the
industry responded by developing water based products that are safe for
people and the environment. The car care industry has responded in-like, just as virtually every other industry.
Just like water-based latex paint; it goes on wet then dries completely to form a very good barrier that is completely dry to the touch. The same holds true for many water based waxes, sealants, and tire
Tire Cleaners and Dressings: What Would Darren Do (WWDD)
Often asked by my long term followers who simply trust my recommendations, I am going to lay out what I choose and do at a professional level:
I use a separate tire cleaner to clean the tire sidewall each and every time before I apply a new coat of my top pick in a tire dressing.
I use only a water based tire dressing (see below) as I want the ability to clean the side wall off of any old dressing along with any accumulated dirt.
I apply the water based dressing each time for a fresh, dirt free coating for visual enhancement and protection.
I use my favorite tire dressing applicator that is the best I have ever used (see below)
Darren's Recommendations: If you are looking for a high-gloss, extra shiny side wall appearance, then the Nu Tyre Lotion will not be for you. If are looking for a tire dressing made with true quality ingredients that produces a classic shine without the cheesy, hyper-shine of heavy solvent based dressings, then the CSI Nu Tyre Lotion is your pick.
You can also finesse the Nu Tyre Lotion to create a custom shine that works for you.
Apply a single coat using my recommended applicator on a clean, dry side wall.
Apply additional coats to create additional shine.
You can always spray Nu Tyre Lotion directly to tire sidewall, remove any over spray from wheels and let sit for ten minutes. After 10 minutes apply a traditional follow-up coat to create a truly uniform appearance.
Perfect for the driveway detailer or car enthusiast who doesn't need a 5 year supply of tire dressing.
Will perform to professional level results despite this being packaged and labeled as an enthusiast level.
I have used this in my professional world and promise you will love it! (I still love it to this day!)
Tire Cleaners and Dressings Summary
You are now part of a select group of people known as the informed and educated. With that said, I will add a few closing comments and take you a little deeper down the rabbit hole of all things related to tire dressings.
Things that even so-called professional detailers don't even know:
All tires have a shelf-life regardless of the tread life. This means you may have a tire 5 years old that still has more than half the tread life left but begins to crack on the side walls.
Just like everything else in life, not all tires are created equal. So choosing the best or shiniest tire dressing will largely be effected by the tire itself, not by any tire cleaners and dressings you happen to choose.
I view tire dressings as temporary and sacrificial barriers of visual enhancement. I know I want to be able to clean the old dressing and dirt off each time I detail or wash my car, so I accept I am not looking for a once-a-year tire dressing application.
Since I understand that tires have a shelf life of approximately 4-7 years, I know that as rule I am going to wear my tires out so I do not concern myself with the endless marketing manufacturers use to sell their products with claims about UV inhibitors.
I also don't concern myself with claims about tires fading; this is more about slick marketing than any actual valid point of concern.
Tire Dressing Applicators
Just when you thought we were done with tire cleaners and dressings! Let's not forget about tire dressing applicators:
I cut in half for the perfect balance between a thick end and a sharp edge for details.
By cutting in half, you are getting 2 for the price of 1.
I get mine wet and wring out each and every time before I apply dressing to sponge.
Lasts a very long time.
The one I use and prefer professionally.
Self-Cleaning Squeeze Bottles
The Chemical Guys VRP is a very thick consistency, and for this reason, I prefer to use these self-cleaning squeeze bottles to dispense from. Other tire cleaners and dressings can be used with traditional sprayers.