Last updated on January 15th, 2020 at 12:17 pm
After spending a few hours washing, waxing, and detailing your car, it is easy to overlook the tires. But a well-detailed car will look unfinished if the tires are not appropriately cleaned and shined! Some of us prefer a matte finish that looks like a new tire, while others really like the high gloss sheen some tire care products provide. No matter which finish you are after, you want a product that will look good and protect your tires from the elements without being a pain to apply.
A trip to your local auto parts store will reveal there are dozens of products on the shelf all claiming to do the same thing. Prices vary greatly, and there is no way you will know whether the product you are buying is actually going to give you the results you want while protecting your tires.
Tire detailing products are typically spray-on foam or liquid or a gel that must be wiped on. Many products also must be wiped off. Almost all of these products are silicon-based or petroleum-based which can react unexpectedly with painted surfaces. You should always test a tire cleaning product on the inside of your rims in a hidden spot to ensure there is no reaction.
A good tire cleaning product should be easy to use, provide consistent results, and not cause damage or extra detail work to your rims. With all the choices on the market today, it is not surprising that many car owners simply skip detailing their tires. We researched all the top tire shine products on the market today, reaching out to manufacturers, professional detail shops, and car enthusiasts that have extensive experience with these products to identify the very best of the best. Each of these products will give you the look you want without damaging your wheels.
Best Tire Shine Products – Top 6
1. Best Overall Tire Shine: STP Son of a Gun Tire Foam
STP Son of a Gun Tire Foam Quick Review
When you want your tires to look like new, but don’t want to have to spend all day scrubbing them clean, Son of a Gun from STP is the product you need. Simply clean your tires while washing your car and spray the foam evenly on the tires. They don’t even have to be dry. This is the easiest and most consistent tire cleaning product around. Literally, spray it on and walk away.
Son of a Gun Tire Foam provides a rich, natural look to tires, even old, abused ones. There is no wiping on or off, and the finish is smooth and even. Wheels and hubcaps can be wiped off to prevent attracting grime, but STP Son of a Gun does not leave any heavy residue behind. Tires stay looking fresh even after heavy rain and lots of miles of driving. Best of all, when you wash your tires the next time, they clean up easily. A quick reapplication and you are on your way.
The downside of this product is that it must dry to avoid slinging the foam onto painted surfaces. If this happens, drivers should wipe the residue off. In testing, STP Son of a Gun did not cause a reaction with chrome, aluminum, or painted wheels, even on a Jaguar that has a finicky factory coating, however leftover residue from the product did attract dirt on polished steel hubcaps.
STP Son of a Gun comes in a large 21 oz. can and is available at most auto parts stores.
2. Satin Finish Pick: Griot’s Garage Black Satin Tire Coating
Griot’s Garage Black Satin Tire Coating Quick Review
Griot’s Garage has become a favorite for the home detailers because of the high-quality products they produce and the ease with which their products can be applied. The Black Satin Tire Coating is another great product that provides the home detailer with the option of a low-sheen finish or a glossier finish based on how the product is applied.
For drivers that like a subdued finish, simply spray the product onto your tires or an applicator sponge and wipe the tire down. The nearly dry formula does not run and can get down into the nooks and crannies of your tires for a professional finish. Simply wipe off after application for that new tire look.
Want it shinier? Leave the product on longer. You can even wipe it on and let it dry, then reapply for an even shinier appearance. The fine spray tip deposits the cleaner onto the tire almost dry. There is no greasy residue or nasty slime to deal with like many other products.
3. Wet Look Pick: TriNova Tire Shine Spray
TriNova Tire Shine Spray Quick Review
Sometimes, dripping wet gloss tires is the look your ride needs to be show ready. If a high gloss finish is what you seek, grab a bottle of TriNova Tire Shine Spray. This stuff is awesome for getting the wet look even on old, beat tires.
TriNova formulates their tire shine spray to be applied directly to your tires, or it can be sprayed onto a detail sponge or cloth and wiped on for a less glossy look. Like magic, TriNova Tire Shine Spray will last through rain, car washes, and tons of abuse. It won’t attract dirt and protects your tires from harmful UV rays.
TriNova got that long-lasting shine by using a dedicated silicone base that adheres to rubber well but does not affect paint or chrome. Excess spray should be wiped off immediately to prevent build-up.
TriNova says a less-shiny finish can be achieved by wiping the product off immediately after application, while higher gloss results require two or more applications. It is essential that the tire shine spray be allowed to dry fully before driving, as it will sling off.
4. Whitewalls & Raised Letters Pick: Black Magic Bleche-Wite Tire Cleaner
Black Magic Bleche-Wite Tire Cleaner Quick Review
Who remembers whitewalls? Definitely a dying trend these days, whitewalls once symbolized that you had the best tires money could buy. Today, whitewall tires are largely a specialty item for drivers restoring really vintage cars or working on customs, sleds, and bombs.
Much more common are raised white letters. Some of the most performance-oriented tires intended for trucks and muscle cars feature bold, white letters that look great until you get them dirty or rub a curb.
Bleche-Wite is a product that has been on the market for decades. It is totally safe to use on tires, unlike some of the DIY solutions you can read about for cleaning white lettering. Not only does it do a phenomenal job removing dirt, grease, and grime from whitewalls and white letter tires, it is also an excellent product for cleaning your blackwall tires prior to applying a tire shine.
Bleche-Wite will not leave any shine at all on your tires. Drivers with whitewalls should avoid using most products intended for a shiny finish, as the chemicals that give that nice gleam can interact badly with whitewalls, leaving them brown, yellow, or susceptible to cracking and drying. One of the few products recommended for putting a subtle shine to whitewalls is STP Son of a Gun, which will not stain or streak when used on whitewalls. Usually, it is a good idea to wipe the tire shine off the whitewall surfaces.
Avoid getting Bleche-Wite on magnesium or aluminum rims. It can cause un-cleanable stains.
5. Offroad Tire Pick: Poorboy’s World Bold ‘N Bright Tire Gel
Poorboy’s World Bold ‘N Bright Tire Gel Quick Review
Tire shine products are great for regular car tires- just spray, wipe, and go. But for those drivers out there running mud and snow tires, aggressive offroad tires, or tires with thick, chunky lugs on the sidewall, getting a good clean on your tires is going to take some work.
Poorboy’s World thought about you mud-hounds when they developed Bold ‘N Bright Gel. It wipes on easily and penetrates down into the chunky lugs, giving you the brand-new tire look you are trying for without hours of scrubbing.
Because this is a water-based product, you can dilute it to a sprayable consistency. Start out with a clean, dry tire and spray the product into the lugs, raised letter areas, and other difficult parts, then lightly brush with a nylon brush. This works the product down into the surface of the lugs. Then, simply put a little gel on an applicator sponge and wipe the rest of the tire down. This gives that new-tire look even to chunky, troublesome off road tires.
The Bold “N Bright Tire Gel is more difficult to apply than some other types, and can take a little practice to get the perfect, even gloss. When used on passenger cars and light truck tires, the gel is simply wiped on with a sponge, then wiped off when dry.
6. Detailer Shop Pick: CSI Nu Tyre Lotion
CSI Nu Tyre Lotion Quick Review
This product only recently became available to the DIY auto detailer. The Nu Tyre lotion is a true water-borne dressing, which means it can be diluted. In fact, this product is so safe to use, you can clean interior and exterior vinyl for a greaseless, dry, and satin finish.
Nu Tyre can be layered for an additional shininess. A single application yields a fresh new tire look that does not sling off. When Nu Tyre has dried, it provides a water-resistant finish that lasts and lasts. Some shops refer to it as latex paint for your tires.
The biggest downside to using Nu Tyre is that it is sold primarily by the gallon. A gallon of Nu Tyre is expensive, but you will not need to buy tire, rubber, or vinyl cleaner for a long time.