Best Tyre Dressing 2020: For any passionate car detailer, tyre dressing is a fundamental component in getting a car looking the best it can. Tyre dressing enriches the finish of the tyres and highlights the rims that you’ve spent a good amount of time cleaning!
You could spend hours detailing a car, but if it’s left with faded brown tyres it will completely diminish the overall look of the car. By spending a few minutes dressing the tyres with a good tyre dressing you can achieve a great look that could last for a few weeks!
Tyre dressing is designed to blacken the tyre wall, usually giving it a wet-look. However, it is possible to vary the finish between a wet or natural look, depending on which product you use and how you apply the product. There is no right or wrong, and opinions on which finish looks best is mixed throughout the detailing community!
- Best all-round tyre dressing: Autobrite Direct Well Dressed Tyre Gel
- Best tyre dressing for a wet look: Meguiar’s Endurance Tyre Gel
- Best tyre dressing for a natural look: Auto Finesse Satin Tyre Creme
- Best value tyre dressing: Simoniz Back to Black Wet Look Tyre Shine
- Best tyre dressing for easy application: Autoglym Instant Tyre Dressing
- Best tyre dressing applicator pad: Barnwell Curved Applicator Pads
Best all-round tyre dressing – can also be used on trim.
When Autobrite recently released Well Dressed there was a lot of speculation as to whether it would fill the shoes of its very popular successor, Autobrite Direct Endurance, which was a favourite trim and tyre gel amongst the car detailing community for many years. It is safe to say that Autobrite blew these speculations out of the water with Well Dressed, one of the best overall tyre dressings I have used.
The beauty of this product is that it allows you to very easily vary the level of gloss or satin you want to achieve in the overall finish of your tyre. Autobrite’s unique gel formula is versatile enough to offer a high-gloss finish, or a natural satin finish depending on your preference. It also smells great, with a tangerine fragrance that makes using it a very pleasant experience!
I often find that a lot of other tyre dressings claim to allow you to vary the finish, but in reality, they are often biased towards a particular finish – with Well Dressed this is not the case. The versatility of this tyre dressing makes it a one-stop-shop for any detailer as it will suit all of yours (or your clients) preferences. Let’s not forget that this tyre gel also works as a great trim dressing – putting a new lease of life into any fading trim.
Despite being at the higher end of tyre gel prices, Autobrite Direct Well Dressed is incredibly economical. The highly concentrated gel ensures that a little goes a long way, so you can guarantee you won’t be getting through a bottle every few weeks. Based in the heart of the UK, Autobrite have ensured that Well Dressed can endure rainy UK weather with this long-lasting tyre gel!
Buy on Amazon: Autobrite Direct Well Dressed
Best tyre dressing for a wet, high-gloss look.
Meguiar’s Endurance tyre gel is one of the glossiest tyre dressings I have reviewed, guaranteeing an extremely wet-look on the driest of tyres. This is one of several tyre dressings which Meguiar’s offer, but it definitely steals the spotlight from its less glossy companions.
The core of this product is a thick, purple gel that is responsible for the super wet-look finish. The gel clings to the rubber, offering a consistently wet-look that can last weeks before it begins to fade. The thick gel ensures that the product doesn’t wash off in the rain – after all, it is called Endurance!
In terms of application, the bottle has a very easy-to-use dispenser lid which helps to avoid getting the sticky gel all over your best car cleaning outfit. It also smells quite pleasant too, which is a good job because you’ll be spending a while applying it. However, Meguiar’s Endurance is not a quick option for dressing a tyre, as it requires a certain amount of patience. The thick gel needs to be spread evenly around the face of the tyre which is why Meguiar’s offer their tyre dressing applicator pad which has a large foam pad and plastic grip to make applying this product that bit easier!
If you want to guarantee a super wet-look on your tyres, then Meguiar’s Endurance High Gloss Tyre Gel is highly recommended.
Buy on Amazon: Meguiar's Endurance Tyre Gel
Best tyre dressing for a natural, low-gloss finish.
Auto Finesse Satin Tyre Creme is one of the few tyre dressings that allows you to create a satin natural finish on your tyres. Auto Finesse states that this is a ‘progressive-finish tyre dressing’ that enables you to create the finish you want through layering the product – the more layers mean a glossier finish. However, if you wanted a glossier finish I would recommend you save your time and go for Autobrite Direct Well Dressed or Meguiar’s Endurance. Where this product really shines is its ability to achieve a natural, clean finish.
Auto Finesse Satin is still a gel, but it has a lighter consistency than most tyre gels, hence the ‘creme’ labelling. The creme enables a very smooth and light application with very little stickiness or residue. However, compared to other tyre dressings, Satin requires a lot more graft in order to achieve the desired finish. The creme consistency means that you have to delicately massage the product into the tyre wall – meaning you could easily spend 5 – 10 minutes on each wheel.
The finish that Auto Finesse Satin leaves is very clean and natural-looking, resembling that of a brand new tyre. If you like a more subtle finish to your tyres or have clients that don’t like the idea of wet-look tyres, then this product is definitely worth a place in your car cleaning collection.
Buy on Amazon: Auto Finesse Satin Tyre Creme
A low budget tyre dressing with capable performance.
Simoniz Back to Black Wet Look Tyre Shine is an aerosol tyre dressing which offers a consistently silky finish on the tyre with minimal effort required. This product has been around for years, but has more recently received an upgrade with a “new improved formula”. As with most aerosol tyre dressings, you simply apply Simoniz Back to Black with a few sprays and leave it to do the rest – no buffing required.
Simoniz says that you can shine up to 30 tyres with this product, so that’s 7.5 washes if you shine all 4 tyres per wash. This is a great product to keep in your boot for emergencies when you want to impress your mates with some nice glossy tyres.
Buy on Amazon: Simoniz Back to Black Wet Look Tyre Shine
Spray tyre dressing designed for quick and easy application.
Autoglym Instant Tyre Dressing is a spray tyre dressing which acts as a great middle-ground between the finish of a tyre dressing gel and the quick application of a tyre dressing aerosol. As with any Autoglym product, it does what it says on the bottle, and Autoglym Instant Tyre Dressing is no exception. This tyre dressing spreads very easily across the rubber, leaving a slick finish, without taking up too much of your time!
You can apply this product in various ways resulting in different finishes. Autoglym recommended that for ‘light sheen’ you simply apply and leave the product to dry by itself. For a ‘matt finish,’ you should remove the excess product with a microfibre cloth. This product can be prone to overspray if you’re not careful, and is quite runny so it can quickly drip onto your freshly cleaned rims leaving a mess! To prevent this I would recommend spraying onto a tyre applicator rather than spraying directly onto the wheel.
Buy on Amazon: Autoglym Instant Tyre Dressing
Highly versatile tyre dressing applicator.
When applying tyre dressing to the tyre, a dedicated tyre dressing applicator pad is essential. Tyre dressing applicator pads have a much tougher sponge which stops the sponge from tearing up when moving across the tyre whereas normal applicator pads are a lot softer, and if you were to use one to apply tyre dressing you would be lucky if it lasted until the fourth wheel.
In my opinion, the Barnwell Tyre Dressing Applicator Pad is the perfect tool for applying tyre dressing currently on the market. It features a curved sponge which ensures full contact with the tyre when applying a dressing. The applicator pad is split into two different sponges, a dark applicator sponge which makes contact with the tyre and does a great job of transferring the product from sponge to rubber, then a more rigid piece of sponge with a finger hold to give you maximum grip to help work the dressing into the tyre.
This applicator pad is perfect for any tyre dressing whether it’s a gel or a spray and unlike some applicator pads, it doesn’t have any plastic handles, so it won’t become clogged up with black gunk. To clean, simply rinse in warm soapy water, and you’re good to dress to your heart’s content.
Buy on Amazon: Barnwell Tyre Shine Dressing Curved Applicator Pads
Best Tyre Dressing Buyer’s Guide
Types of Tyre Dressing & Their Uses
Tyre gels are the most popular type of tyre dressing on the market at the moment. Gels are naturally wet in consistency, making them great for achieving wet look finishes on the tyre. Many tyre gels are silicone-based which acts as a protective barrier against road grime and UV radiation – preventing your tyres from going brown or fading.
Gels often have a longer lifetime, meaning that they’ll cling to the tyre for much longer than sprays & aerosols. This makes them incredibly economical, as a good tyre gel will last a few weeks before needing a top-up.
It’s worth noting that tyre gels require a lot more effort to apply that aerosols and sprays. When applying tyre gel you have to ensure that the product is evenly spread across the tyre wall and that all the details have been covered to avoid a patchy finish. This can often mean a few passes with the applicator pad to ensure full coverage.
Aerosols are by far the quickest way to shine up your tyres. A few sprays with an aerosol tyre dressing and your tyres will be shining in seconds. Most aerosol tyre dressings do not require you to wipe or buff the dressing once you’ve sprayed the tyre – so you can literally walk away and let it work its magic.
Aerosols are great to keep in the boot of your car for an emergency tyre shine if you need to impress your mates or want to give your tyres that extra shine in a hurry! However, you’re never going to achieve the same level of finish with an aerosol than you can with a gel or spray.
Aerosols also tend to be less durable and less economical than other types of tyre dressing, so this is something to consider if you’re after a tyre dressing that can be used in the long run.
Sprays are the middle-ground between tyre gels and aerosols. They are usually more economical than aerosols, as you tend to get a lot more ‘bang for your buck’ with a longer-lasting product. However, you’ll struggle to achieve that rich finish that you can achieve with a tyre gel as they tend not to last as long as tyre gels either.
Similarly to tyre gels, tyre dressing sprays allow you to vary the finish by either letting them dry naturally or buffing off with a microfibre towel – however, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions too.
How to Apply Tyre Dressing?
Before applying any dressing to the tyres it is important that the tyres are clean. Applying tyre dressing to dirty wheels is a pointless exercise as the dressing won’t bond with the rubber, you’ll muck up your applicator pad, and you’ll just end up with a brown mess – it ain’t going to be pretty.
Here are some quick points to get you going, but read our “How to Clean Diamond Cut Wheels” article to guarantee a mind-blowing finish on your wheels!
- Remove as much loose dirt as possible with a hose or pressure washer. This will give the cleaning products maximum brake dust eating ability as they won’t be eating dirt instead.
- Degrease the tyres with a degreaser or all-purpose cleaner and a stiff-bristled brush. By removing grease from the tyre it will allow the tyre dressing to bond nicely with the rubber. It will also prevent the tyre from going brown when you apply the tyre dressing, and will instead produce a nice black finish.
- Use a dedicated wheel cleaner and some wheel cleaning brushes to clean the face of the wheel – remembering to clean the lip between the wheel and the tyre.
- Rinse the wheels completely to remove any soap or wheel cleaners.
- Use an old microfibre cloth to ensure that the wheel (and tyre) is completely dry before applying any tyre dressing.
- Do not use the same cloths/towels that you use on the paintwork of the car as this will introduce harmful contaminants to the paint.
- Car blow dryers are great for clearing water from the wheels as they can disperse water from places a cloth can’t reach, like small crevices and wheel nuts.
- Add the tyre dressing to the applicator pad and ensure it’s spread evenly across the pad. As the pad soaks up more and more tyre dressing you will need to apply less and less before each pass on the tyre, so don’t feel like you have to apply the same amount every time.
- Imagine the tyre is a clock face, and press the applicator pad at 9 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock before rubbing the dressing into the top half of the tyre. This ensures that you have equal amounts of products across the tyre to avoid a patchy finish.
- For a glossy finish, apply a few layers of gel – the more layers the wetter the finish.
- For a satin finish, apply fewer layers and wipe down the tyre afterwards with an old microfibre cloth to remove any excess tyre gel.
- Go around each tyre completing the top half of each tyre, before rolling you car forwards/backwards so that the un-dressed half of the tyre is now on top.
- Repeat the tyre dressing process for the other half of the tyre. By dressing the tyres in halves, it means that the full tyre has equal coverage. If you did all of the tyre at once you would have undressed spots where the tyre wall was touching the floor.