How To Clean Tires To Look New

Image Credit: Envato Elements

Image Credit: Envato Elements

How To Clean Tires To Look New


Over time your car tires will begin to look dirty and turn a brownish color. Some of this can be from brake dust sticking to your wheels and tires. 

The browning however is a normal process that is designed to protect the rubber used to make tires. Antiozonant is a chemical in the tire rubber that is designed to neutralize ozone which breaks down the rubber. 

Unfortunately the result of this chemical reaction is a brown tire look. It’s fairly easy to clean away the brown oxidation that appears on your sidewalls but it will come back a few weeks later.

How To Clean Tires To Look New

Remove blooming and road grime first with a quality all-purpose cleaner and a tire brush.

Dress with either a tire gel for a glossier appearance, or a tire dressing for a more matte look.

A common method for extending and improving the look of tires to bring them back to a new-like appearance is to use a tire dressing. 

There are an almost innumerable number of tire shines available on the market and in truth many work very well and last a similar length of time.

We have found that Meguiar’s leads the pack when it comes to tire dressings however. For a glossy shine we recommend checking out Meguiar’s Gold Class Endurance High Gloss Tire Gel. If a matte finish is more your speed then Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing is a better option. 

Keep reading to learn more about tire blooming, avoiding tire sling, and including your tires in your car cleaning process.

What's the best tire cleaner?

Simply using car shampoo or an all purpose cleaner and a good quality tire cleaning brush is all that is needed to remove the oxidation of Antiozonant from the surface of your tires. Using more harsh cleaning products can actually cause more Antiozonant to work its way to the surface more quickly and prematurely cause tire blooming. 2 great all purpose cleaning products are Meguiar’s All Purpose Cleaner and Optimum’s Power Clean. Either one are great options if you’re looking for something a little stronger than your favorite car shampoo.

Often wheels and tires are addressed at the same time. If you’re trying to remove brake dust from your wheels you may want to pick up some Sonax Wheel Cleaner. It’s the best at breaking down stubborn and baked on brake dust.

Best glossy and matte tire dressings

If you’re looking for the wet look for your car tires you’ll want to go with Meguiar’s Gold Class Endurance High Gloss Tire Gel. This quality tire shine is very durable and long lasting. Like most quality tire dressings this gel protects from harmful UV rays. It has a pleasant aroma which is a bonus. The downsides are that like almost every other tire shine it will only last just so long. It is very durable and long lasting but that is relative to tire shines in general. You’ll also need to take a little extra care make sure to wipe away the excess to avoid tire sling.

Water based dressings are best for a more matte finish. If you prefer a matte finish you’ll want to check out the water based Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing. For a more matte appearance many will want to dilute it 3:1 or 4:1 with water which will knock back any glossiness considerably and will significantly increase its bang for the buck. Durability isn’t its strong point but it does last similarly well to most matte tire dressings currently on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do car tires turn brown?

This browning effect is called tire blooming. This is the byproduct of a protectant that is included in the production of tires called Antiozonant. Antiozonant is designed to react with ozone which is harmful to the rubber used in tires. When the reaction occurs it creates a brown discoloration to the tires. This discoloration can be cleaned off but it will eventually return. Antiozonant continuously works its way to the surface of the tires when your car or truck is driven. This is by design and continuously protects the outer surfaces of your tires while they are in use. When tires sit for too long unused they can easily dry rot due to ozone breaking down the rubber and causing it to crack and deteriorate.

How to keep tire shine from slinging?

To maintain a clean car you need to ensure your tire shine of choice doesn’t sling off. The primary reason tire shine slings off tires and onto the body of your car or truck is not so much due to the formulation of the tire dressing but the way it has been applied. When applying any tire dressing whether it is the more glossy formulations or the matte types you should do your best to reduce the amount left on the tire itself. It’s best to put the shine onto an applicator and then wipe onto the tire. You should go back and make sure to wipe away excess dressing. If the results aren’t as shiny as you would like you should wait until the first application has dried and then reapply.

Should I use tire shine?

You don’t need to use a tire dressing if you don’t care for the look. They will help keep down the browning from Antiozonant oxidizing on the surface of the rubber. They also do provide a bit of protection to your tires. There likely isn’t enough extra protection provided to make a significant difference in the longevity of the average tire. It’s mostly an aesthetic decision. While I think most will agree that a light coating of matte tire shine will restore a tire to a new-like appearance, some people may not find the level of effort required to restore the look of tires worth the end result. If that’s the case though you may be on the wrong website! 😉

Is tire shine good for tires?

Absolutely! Whether you’re using a glossy or matte tire shine it will almost certainly contain UV protectants to help filter out harmful UV rays. Most tire shine products will also protect tires from cracking. Tire shines in general won’t hurt tires although there are some poorer quality brands that may not react well with the rubber and accelerate aging. Aggressively cleaning your tires prior to applying a tire dressing may cause Antiozonants to escape from within the rubber more quickly but this won’t necessarily harm the tire. It is unwanted as it accelerates tire blooming so it should be avoided if possible.


Enjoying a clean car includes the tires. Tire blooming and brake dust is an unfortunate fact of life. Antiozonant is required to extend the usable life of tires and keep the rubber from cracking and deteriorating.

ire cleaning is a must prior to applying tire shine. If you don’t clean your tires first the shine will fail prematurely or simply not give you the desired effect. It’s easy to simply wash away the brownish oxidation on your sidewalls but that won’t restore the appearance to like-new.

Applying a tire dressing is the only way to restore your tires to a factory-fresh appearance. Some people prefer going a step further with a glossy finish. I personally prefer a simple matte look.

Tire dressings are more about appearance than anything else so you may find experimentation the best route to get the look you like most.

Meguiar’s Gold Class Endurance High Gloss Tire Gel is excellent for a long lasting glossy appearance. To increase the gloss you may find multiple applications after the previous application has dried to give you the results you’re after.

For those of us that prefer a more muted matte look Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing is a better choice. Instead of multiple coatings to build up a gloss, diluting the formula may be required to get just the right level of matte finish.

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