How to Properly Detail Your Tires

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We've all been there- you spend all day washing, polishing, and waxing your vehicle, and take a step back to admire your hard work, only to realize you forgot something. Or rather, four somethings.

Nothing ruins the shiny-clean look of a freshly washed vehicle like dirty tires, but did you know there's more to it than just appearance? Brake dust builds up on tires from normal driving, and when combined with the intense heat and friction generated by the tires, can become highly corrosive. If left for too long, it can eat into the coating, and even pit the metal of your wheels.

Quick Tip

Once you have used a material on the tires, be it a microfiber towel, brush, or bucket of soapy water, you should never use it on any other part of your vehicle. Contaminates from the wheels can easily scratch your vehicle's paint.


Your tires turn brown because of old tire dressings.


The brown on your tires is actually a natural process called "blooming". Your tire contains a chemical named antiozonant, which helps prevent the degradation of your tire like splitting, cracking, and oxidation. The antiozonant gets worked through your tires as they are rolled on the pavement by driving. The antiozonant quickly oxidizes once it comes into contact with the air, which is the brown film you see when your tires are driven for a prolonged period of time without being washed.

Quick Tip

Clean, scrub and completely rinse your tires one tire/rim set at a time. Not only will you work more efficiently by not circling the vehicle constantly and by focusing on one tire, but this also prevents the cleaner and soap from drying on the tire.

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1. Spray Down Tires

Spray down your tires with a hose to remove any loose debris and dirt that has accumulated.

2. Wash Rims & Scrub Tires

You can use your regular automotive shampoo to clean your tires. Scrub with back-and-forth motions with a dedicated wash mitt, sponge, or brush. Do not use acidic cleaners or dishsoap. The former can strip the clear coat from your tires, and the later can not remove the tough (and sometimes dangerous) debris that have built up on your tires.

Quick Tip

For the wheel, use a brush with feathered bristles to prevent scratches. For the tires you want to use a stiffer brush so you can scrub any old dressing or blooming off.

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3. Rinse With Hose

Pay special attention to rinse the tire, wheel, brake caliper, and fender.

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3.5. Tires Still Dirty?

If any grime remains, pat the tire dry with a clean microfiber cloth, and then spray with an all-purpose cleaner. Let it sit for however long recommended on the product packaging, usually up to 3 minutes, then re-scrub using soap.

Choose a cleaner that is appropriate for the type of tires you have. Always check the label to make sure that it is approved for your tires, since different types of tires can handle different strengths of cleaner. If you are unsure what kind of tires you have, your best bet is to go with a cleaner that is safe for all wheels.

Quick Tip

It's best to begin with the lightest cleaner, and slowly work your way into stronger cleaners if necessary.

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4. Dry Tires With Microfiber Cloth

This is an important step to avoid watermarks, and to remove any remaining brake dust. Remember, once a cloth has been used on the tires, it should only ever be used on the tires.

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5. Choose Your Preferred Dressing

Your two options are either a water-based dressing or a solvent-based dressing. Both have their pros and cons, but a brief overview of the differences are:

Water-Based Dressings

· Non-greasy, matte black to satin finish
· Absorbs and nourishes the tire better than solvent-based
· Many contain UV inhibitors
· Usually eco-friendly
· When driven in the rain, appearance will fade within a week or two

Solvent-Based Dressings

·Lasts a long time
·Shiny appearance
·May sling off onto surrounding trim and paint
·The solvents in the cheaper dressings may be harmful to your tires overtime

6. Apply Dressing

Application of dressings vary depending on the type and brand, so always follow the directions on the label, but the basic application is:

1. Apply the dressing to a dedicated applicator.
2. Use the applicator to wipe the dressing on the tire in a zig-zag motion up and down the tire spanning from the wheel to the outside of the tire, around the entire tire.
3. Even out and smooth the appearance of the dressing by wiping around the tire in a circular motion with a dedicated microfiber cloth.
4. Wait for the dressing to absorb or dry for a few minutes and then follow up with another dedicated microfiber cloth around the tire to remove any residue or excess dressing, and further smooth out the appearance.

Want to Leave It to the Professionals?

Our Service Department is here to fulfill all your vehicle needs. Check out our vehicle detailing packages and select the one that best suits your needs.

Quick Tip

Make sure you move your vehicle a bit so you can apply dressing to the portion of the tire that was previously pressed against the ground.

At Saunders Motors

We believe in customer service first, so you will never feel pushed or pressured into a purchase. Instead, we will provide you with all the options and information necessary for you to make an educated decision. We have a strong and committed sales staff that works diligently to guarantee that you enjoy your entire purchasing experience. Our knowledgeable business manager can assist you in the leasing or financing process, and keep you informed on warranties and insurance. The dealership is supported by a team of managers who work daily to ensure we are price leaders in the local market, and that customers near and far are satisfied.