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Cleaing your Tires: Do you need to protect them?

Posted 04-10-2002 at 01:00 AM by StyleTEG


Keeping your tires and rims clean and looking great is very important in your cars overall appearance. Even if a car has perfect paint, and a great shine, if the tires are faded and the rims are covered in break dust, the car is not going to look near its best. This area of the car can be very distracting, and it is also the most overlooked.

Very few automotive owners know that tires do need protection.

The rubber that makes up tires is vulnerable to several elements. These elements can eat away at the rubber and cause them to deteriorate rapidly, and leave you a bill for a new set of tires. These elements are very common in our environment, and can damage tires quickly if you are not careful.

These elements are water, UV light, formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, and ozone.

Two of those elements can actually be found in tire dressings, the very product that is supposed to protect your tires. The elements mentioned are petroleum distillates and formaldehyde. These chemicals act as a solvent and will eat rubber the moment they come in contact.

Ozone is in the air we breathe. In our atmosphere that ozone combines with UV light and creates a reaction that will damage the agents that bind the rubber in tires together. To protect tires from this reaction, manufactures use a stabilizer compound called “competitive absorber”. These compounds absorb UV radiation and convert it to heat. The competitive absorber is often referred to as “carbon black”, and is the reason why most tires are black in color.

Unfortunately in order to be effective, the carbon black is worn away as it does its job. As this happens, the carbon black fades and becomes gray. You may have noticed older cars with gray tires, due to this very phenomenon.

To further protect the tires, manufactures added a wax compound to reduce ozone and water damage. The wax is designed to sit at the surface of the tire and form a protective barrier between ozone and water, and the tire rubber. The wax only moves to the surface, when the tires flex. This most happens every time you drive, and is called “blooming”. Cars that sit for extended periods of time don’t experience blooming, and are unprotected against ozone. Combined with UV light, drying, discoloration and cracking begin very rapidly.

The solution is tire dressings. Tire dressings are designed to protect the tire, restore essential moisture, and condition the rubber.

This is why it is important to use a quality tire dressing. You want a dressing that not only provides UV protection, but also is devoid of chemicals such as petroleum distillates.

Recommended Dressings: Lexol Viynlex, Aerospace 303, Pinnacle Rubber Protectant, Zaino Z-16, and Meguiars Endurance.



What you need to start:


• Bottle of Blue Dawn, or a no frills dishwash detergent.
• Empty spray bottle.
• High quality Rubber/Trim dressing
• Stiff Bristled Brush
• Aluminum Polish
• (optional) Soft bristled Boar Hair Brush



CLEANING THE TIRE

Tires are much more durable, and harder to clean than the soft paint of your car. Because of this, normal car wash soap and a soft wash mit are not strong enough to get into the pours of the tire to give it a deep cleaning. A strong dishwashing detergent and a stiff bristled brush will really work the deep embedded dirt and leave an even clean tire. Other good cleaning agents would include simple green, Meguiars Extra, and Wesleys Tire Bleech (my fav). Start by poring a small amount of dawn into the spray bottle, and mix it with warm water. Give the bottle a good shaking to properly mix the solution. The dawn is not only going to cut grease and loosen dirt and grim, but it also aids in the lubrication of the brush. Because of the stiffness of the brush, moving it over dry areas of a tire. is going to be very difficult. To ensure good lubrication, dampen the stiff bristled brush with a few shots of the dawn solution. Spray down the whole tire. liberally with the dawn solution. Be careful not to get it on your finish, as it will strip the wax.


After you have scrubbed down the whole tire. vigorously, get the hose and wash it down to remove the loose dirt and dawn solution. At this point you can either blot the tire. down to aid in drying it, or move on to cleaning your rim while letting the tire. air dry. Once the tire. is adequately dry, apply a good quality dressing to the whole tire. Application can be tricky because of nooks, cranes, logo's, etc. I have found that this dishwashing sponge works very well at getting into all the small areas. A bonus, is it contains a small tube capable of holding dressing, that gets squeezed out onto the sponge while applying. Eagle One also manufactures good tire applicators. Once the dressing has been applied, let it sit on the tire for 10-15min to soak in. Then buff off the excess with a towel.

CLEANING THE RIM

I like to give my rims a light washing before I do any major polishing/cleaning. This will remove more dirt and grim lightly with out risking it scratching while being rubbed by a polish. For this I use normal car wash soap, and a boars hair brush. The brush is very soft, but it is still able to loosen dirt and get into the nooks of most rims. After this you may want to use your favorite wheel cleaning solution., but I find that in most cases it isn't necessary.
To get a deep cleaning, Eagle One's "NEVERDULL" polish works very well. It comes as a large cotton wad of polishing material. It is very light on abrasives, and leaves a great shine while removing swirls and oxidization. Simply tear off a small peace of wadding, and lightly rub it over your rim. If possible, rub in the same direction as the spokes to prevent easily visible scratches. Once you have polished the whole rim, wipe off the polishing residue with a soft towel. At this point the rim should be extremely shinny, and reflective.



* As a final step, using wax on your rim can have several benefits. Not only does it increase the shine, and reflectivity, but it also provides protection and easier future cleaning. Brake dust will wash off easier on a waxed wheel, compared to a bare one. Apply the wax just like you would a car. Once it dries, buff off and you are done.
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