Is Armor All Good For Tires? (3 Alternatives)

Image Credit: duallogic via Envato Elements

Image Credit: duallogic via Envato Elements

Is Armor All Good For Tires? (3 Alternatives)


People ask “Is Armor All Bad? Is Armor All Good For Tires?” I’m not sure where the concern started but the short answer is Armor All is perfectly safe for use on tires, and is in fact better than not using anything at all.

The question that I feel is more important, “Is Armor All the best tire dressing to use on your tires?” I think you can do better.

Let’s dive into the details of what tire dressings I think are better and why.

Does Armor All Damage Tires?

Armor All is a safe product to use on your tires. It will help prevent premature cracking and dry rot. It will also help slow tire blooming.

Armor All is a big company that makes lots of different car care products these days. The most popular original formula Armor All Protectant and Armor All Extreme Tire Shine are safe to use on your tires.

Why Do Some Think Armor All Is Bad?

A lot of web sites state that Armor All uses petroleum distillates in their formulations but this isn’t the case. The fear is that petroleum distillates and alcohols will dry out the rubber in the tires and accelerate dry rot.

It’s unclear to me how this misinformation began, but it isn’t true today. It may have been true in the past, but current Armor All formulations will help extend the life of your tires and protect them from drying out.

To be perfectly honest however, while Armor All products are safe, they aren’t my favorites. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. I just don’t like the wet look, sticky surface, and tire sling associated with these products.

Does Armor All Protect Rubber?

We’ve made it clear that Armor All is not damaging to your tires, but does it provide protection against dry rot and UV rays?

Armor All will help tires by protecting them from ultraviolet radiation due to the inclusion of UV inhibitors in the formulation. Armor All’s original formula or Extreme Tire Shine will create a barrier between the rubber and the ozone in the air that damages tire rubber as well.

They contain water based silicone emulsions which will not accelerate dry rot or cracking.

So yes, using Armor All will not only not damage your tires, but it will help prevent premature cracking due to UV rays and ozone in the air.

Does Tire Shine Hurt Tires?

Most tire shines will contain UV inhibitors and create a barrier that will slow tire blooming. Tire shine will not only make tires look better but will also protect them.

Your tire dressing of choice will be more based on the look and longevity of the tire shine. For instance, I prefer a more matte finish while others prefer a glossy finish and wet look.

Also, tire shine products known as tire coatings can provide much longer protection and shine than typical tire dressings.

These tire coatings are much more durable and repel water. Tire shine is usually a water based product and washes away fairly quickly after the first rain or the next car wash.


What Is Dry Rot On Tires

Rubber, whether it’s tires, door seals, window seals, or any other rubber product, will begin to dry and crack with age. This is obviously especially dangerous with tires.

Tires are designed to withstand drying out for a minimum of 6 years. After that, the countermeasures built into tires begin to fail and they will start to dry rot.

If certain chemicals, such as silicone or petroleum distillates come into contact with the rubber, it can accelerate this process and shorten the usable life of your tires.

What Is Tire Blooming

Due to the danger of tires drying out and potentially causing a blowout, the rubber used in tires includes an additive called antiozonant.

This additive slowly leaches out of the rubber and reacts with ozone which is an atmospheric element that causes dry rot. When the antiozonate neutralizes the ozone, it creates a brownish tint on the surface of the tires.

This process that makes tires brown over time is called tire blooming. If you notice your tires turn brown, just know that this is a good thing. It may not look great, but it is a chemical process that is designed to protect the rubber in your tires.

How To Clean, Protect, And Dress Tires?

There are different aspects to discuss regarding how to clean your tires, protect them, and dress tires.

Let’s discuss each.

How To Clean Tires That Are Brown And Dirty

Tire shine usually wears away quickly. This means that your tires will more easily collect dirt and begin browning again.

To properly clean your tires you’ll want to use a good quality tire cleaner and a tire brush.

After you’ve washed your wheels and tires with a car shampoo and a wash mitt to remove the majority of dust and dirt on the surfaces, you’ll want to spray a good quality tire cleaner on the dry tire side wall.

Once you’ve saturated the sidewall thoroughly with the tire cleaner, use your tire brush to thoroughly scrub the blooming and adhered dirt off of the side wall.

How To Protect Tires From Dry Rot

Generally speaking, tire shine will do a good job of protecting your tires from dry rot when they’re on your car or truck. But what about storing them?

There are a few extra steps you may not be aware of to help prevent your tires from drying out when storing them or not using them for 3 months or more.

  • Keep your tires out of direct sunlight
  • Keep your tires stored at a consistent room temperature if possible
  • Hang them from wall hooks to prevent flat spots
  • Keep them in air tight tire storage bags to hold in the antiozonant and keep ozone away from the rubber.

How To Dress Tires

Tire dressing mostly comes down to two main factors:
  • Looks
  • Durability
Some car owners prefer a glossy finish and great shine. Others, like myself, prefer a matte finish that is dry to the touch. Additionally, we all would obviously prefer a tire dressing that we could apply once and never have to worry about again, but that isn’t realistic. Some people don’t mind regularly reapplying a tire dressing to restore the tire shine. Others want to avoid having to wipe on a tire dressing every few weeks. Tire dressings come in 3 main flavors:
  1. Tire Dressing Spray
  2. Tire Dressing Gel
  3. Tire Dressing Coating
Each of these types of tire shine can come in high gloss or matte finish formulations, but the delivery method has a big impact on durability.

Tire Dressing Spray

Spray tire shine is typically a water based tire dressing that has a fairly short lifespan. It is usually fairly easily washed way by the next rain or car wash.

Tire Dressing Gel

A gel tire shine is typically a little more durable than a spray but often doesn’t have a lot more staying power than a water based tire dressing spray.

Tire Dressing Coating

A tire shine coating is where you see a large jump in durability. Tire coatings bond with the rubber exterior surfaces of your tires and can withstand lots of rain and many car washes without wearing away.

A tire dressing coating is most adversely affected by physical damage such as your tires rubbing against curbs.


No matter which product you choose, only apply it to your sidewalls and avoid putting it directly on the tire tread.

Armor All Alternatives

Here are my suggestions for the best protectant alternatives to Armor All.

Tire Shine Spray

303 Aerospace Protectant

While it isn’t specifically designed to only be used on tires, I really like 303 spray protectant. It’s an excellent UV protectant that is great for protecting rubber and it is dry to the touch.

My favorite part is the matte black finish that it leaves. I’m not a fan of shiny tire protectants like those from Armor All and several other manufacturers.

Like most spray rubber protectants, it doesn’t last long exposed to rain and other harsh weather unfortunately.


Tire Shine Gel

Meguiar’s Endurance Tire Gel

Tire gels tend to be a little more long-lasting than tire shines due to their thicker consistency. They won’t last as long as a tire coating but they typically won’t wear off after the first rain either.


Tire Shine Coating

McKee’s 37 Tire Coating kit

Extremely long-lasting tire coatings are my personal favorite. They last months instead of days and look great. Plus they give superior protection to the tire rubber. The best choice IMHO.


If you’ve ever noticed rust on your brake rotors after a rain, you’ve experienced firsthand how quickly rust can form on steel car parts exposed to the weather and elements.

Minor scratches in car paint aren’t urgent concerns. But scratches that penetrate down to the metal can cause problems later. Taking a few minutes to remove surface rust and apply a little touch up paint to protect the metal from rusting is definitely worth the time.

If you want to perform the scratch repair process to restore the look of your car or truck, it’ll take a lot more effort and patience but the end result can be pretty impressive.

Good luck and happy detailing.

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