Skip to main content

What does car detailer really include? A good car detail job cleans it from top to bottom, inside and out, and protecting all surfaces from damage. One job that is often overlooked is protecting your tires. Every vehicle on the road depends on the same thing, good tires.

Although routine maintenance like tire rotations, good air pressure, and vehicle alignment are important, making sure your sidewalls are clean and well protected from hazards on the road.

Many vehicles owners apply a water-based tire shine product or a tire dressing as a final step in the detailing process. Some of them are made to enhance the shine, while others are simply for protecting from sun damage, road grime, or other debris.

But what makes a good tire shine product? Is it more important for it to “shine” – or is protection the most important attribute? In the information below – we will answer this question and many more, to determine some facts about tire shine spray and the benefits tire dressing has on your clean tire.

What is Tire Dressing?

What makes Tire Dressing special? Is it the fact that it will recover the black rubber on your sidewall that will fade after driving on them for a while? It is the enhanced gloss or wet-looking tire sidewall? Or is the magical chemical formula inside the product that allows your rubber tires to have a second chance at life. Regardless of your criteria, the high gloss finish of a superior tire dressing is simply the result.

Most car owners may not be aware of this, but the best tire shine products will also protect the sidewall from harmful UV rays, dry rotting, cracking, and make the rubber surface appear like a wet shiny tire. Weather you decide to apply them via a gel applied with a microfiber cloth, or use a ready to use tire spray, by yourself or by a detail shop it is a pretty simple process.

Before you attempt to apply a tire shine product, it’s important to first clean it good.

Once you wash or clean the tire with a good wheel and tire cleaner, you will wash them during your maintenance car wash, dry them, and then apply the spray tire solution. At that point, you will remove any residual, and let it dry as recommended by the manufacturer.

How Many Tire Dressing Products Are Offered in 2021?

In the old days, there was a certified king that everybody used – and his name was Armor All. It was a simple spray and wipe solution, that produced a wet look on the tire surface, and required no foam applicator or special treatment. Just use the store-bought spray bottle, wipe it off – and you are done.

Today, there are multiple categories of tire protectant or shine products. There are the dressings, then there’s waxes, and finally there are sealants.

Dressings are mostly made from a base of Solvents or a Water-Borne and silicone formula that will go into the tire that will helps protect the rubber from UV rays, and repairs the dried rubber. It has not made to remove dirt or brake dust; it is that cherry on the sundae for after the tire has been cleaned.

The wax product has a longer lasting effect on your tires, think of It like the polish that a musician will polish their brass instrument to give it a nice high shine before a performance. When you apply the wax, apply to the tire’s sidewall, then wipe off the excess. Some wax products are known to fling off the tire and find a home on the vehicle’s paint surface – so be careful with this stuff.

Sealant products will protect the tire through a synthetic formula that will fill the tiny holes produced from sun damage. It is not going to look as slippery as the dressing but is usually a superior UV blocker.

One misconception of these products is that they work as a tire or wheel cleaner product. That is just not accurate. Even though they produce a glossy, matte, or a satin look they are meant to protect your tires from the environmental elements that everyday drivers will face while on the roads.

Comparing Water vs. Solvent Tire Dressing

Most people who like to work on their own vehicles commonly will use a solvent or water-based shine spray to apply a nice finish to their tires.

There are two main differences between both the Water and solvent-based products is the effect after application. Water-based tire dressing will show up as a white liquid that after application will provide a satin look to your tires, while on the other side the Solvent-based formula which is made from a Hydrocarbon silicone that will produce a glossy finish to your tires. Both water solvent-based can be used by spray can or applicator pad which is much easier to apply.

One downfall about the Solvent tire dressing even though they will make your tires look new and shiny, they can possibly lead to the sidewall drying out that could lead to cracking of your tire, which could be a hazard on the road. There is a chance of your tire popping due to damage on your sidewall.

What are the Pro and Cons of Tire Dressing Products?

Ask a group of professional detailers what type of tire treatment they prefer, and you will likely get a slew of opinions. But, across the board, most of them prefer a water-based solution infused with gloss enhancers. Water-Based has some pro’s like its more friendly to the environment, but with pro’s there is some con’s as well.


  • They help protect your sidewalls from cracking, hardening, and fading.
  • It Rehydrates the rubber on your sidewalls.
  • The application process is easy by using a spray or an aerosol bottle.
  • The water solution is environmentally friendly and biodegradable.


  • With Solvent-based sprays, the solution can fling off the tire and onto the paint and give it a smear-like appearance.
  • Tire harm or premature cracking can be from the petroleum distillates that can be in some of the formulas.
  • Using the aerosol products can be sprayed on your breaks, which could possibly lead to break failure.
  • Never apply to motorcycles. That can cause accidents very quickly.

Years ago, applying a tire shine was considered the cool thing to do. It was the capper – or that cherry on the sundae that made your vehicle stand out amongst your friends – and road warriors. Today, the proactive step of applying a high-quality tire dressing serves to protect and enhance the natural look of the tire.

Although tire dressing application is a fairly easy process, it is not for everybody. For the enthusiasts that prefer to be more hands-on with working on their own car, we have a perfect tire shine to go with your next detailing job. Americana Global- Tire and Trim is the ultimate gloss enhancer and protective sealant you need.

If you prefer to have a professional detailer take care of this for you, the expansive network of 3,500 authorized Ceramic Pro installers can handle that for you. Click the button below to find a detailer near me today.

Tim Charlet

Author Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet serves as the Pai Mei of Ceramic Pro Americas content management team. He also formulates and improves Americana Global detailing supplies, and serves as a Key Accounts Manager for Ceramic Pro and Americana Global products.

More posts by Tim Charlet