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Shine Wars - We Test 16 Tire Shines

Battle of the Tire Slimes

Apr 19, 2016
Photographers: Jason Gonderman
Detailing products are something we all use. They keep our trucks shined up and looking good. However, if you’ve been down the detailing aisle at the local auto parts store or big box retailer lately, you’ll know just how many different variations of the same thing there are. How exactly do you know which one to pick?
In an effort to help clear up some of the confusion, we headed to our local Pep Boys and O’Reilly Auto Parts stores and bought a sample of each tire shine spray and aerosol on the shelves. Why tire shine, you ask? Simply put, it’s the detailing product people use the most and know the least about. It’s also a test that’s easily repeatable with definitive visual results. So follow along as we help you decide which tire shine is right for your ride.
Testing Method
Wanting all things to be equal, we picked up four identical 35-inch Falken Wildpeak A/T3W tires and started by cleaning them with Eagle One’s A-Z Tire and Wheel Cleaner (1). Once dry, the tires were sectioned into fours with blue painter’s tape and each quadrant was assigned a number. The 16 tire shine products (2) were then randomly assigned a number to match a tire quadrant and each was applied (3) as per the directions. Over the course of a week, each tire was subjected to several days of intense sun, light rain, and simulated dirt driving (4). At the end of the seven days, they were all hosed down (5) and reevaluated.
The Results
Those wishing for a ranking from first to last should stop reading here. All the products tested accomplish the goal of adding shine to tires. It’s the way in which they all do it that makes the test fascinating. There was only one product that retained its shine at the end of the test, though several make claims of lasting many weeks, months, or washes. If left on a tire with no intervention and no exposure to the elements, they would all likely last a long time before fading. However, you’ll be reapplying all these products with each wash. All but one also attracted an equal amount of dirt, meaning if you plan to leave the pavement, you should also ditch the shine. Application process and amount of shine is largely what differentiates each product, and hopefully by the end we will have helped guide you in some way toward your next shine purchase.
The Products
Photo 7/40   |   001 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 8/40   |   017 Tire Detailing Product Test
Prime Shine Tire Shine
Brand: Purple Power
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 24 ounces
Street Price: $5.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.249
Claim To Fame: Spray on. No wiping. Long-lasting shine.
Directions: Lightly spray Prime Shine onto a clean, dry tire sidewall. Allow product to stand for 1 to 3 minutes. An uneven appearance will soon disappear, leaving a level, glossy finish.
Note: Do not apply to, nor allow product to contact the tire tread area, glass, or painted surfaces. Wipe off any excess from wheel with a soft cloth.
Prime Shine Tire Shine from Purple Power sprayed on with an even stroke and clung to the tire sidewall nicely thanks to its thick tack. However, the advertised “uneven appearance” soon developed and failed to disappear after 30 minutes. The product produced a deep, rich shine but retained a slimy feel. On the upside, it also had a very pleasant, almost cherry-like scent.
Photo 9/40   |   002 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 10/40   |   018 Tire Detailing Product Test
Supreme Tire Shine
Brand: Blue Magic
Type: Aerosol
Size: 15 ounces
Street Price: $4.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.333
Claim To Fame: Instant high gloss. Long lasting. Fast drying, no sling. Guaranteed or your money back.
Directions: Apply to clean, dry tires with a light even spray. Allow 3 to 5 minutes for drying time. No wiping necessary.
Note: Do not apply to wheels, hubcaps, or painted surfaces. If overspray occurs, wipe off with a clean cloth. Do not apply to brake drums or rotors. If residue drips onto cement or blacktop, clean instantly with detergent solution.
The first of our aerosol products was a pleasant surprise. Blue Magic’s Supreme Tire Shine sprayed on thick and didn’t run off the tire. As advertised, it produced an instant high-gloss finish. The spray pattern can be a little wonky due to the thickness of the product, and we wouldn’t recommend inhaling it, as it has the scent of a cheap spray adhesive.
Photo 11/40   |   003 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 12/40   |   019 Tire Detailing Product Test
Extreme Tire Shine
Brand: Armor All
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 22 ounces
Street Price: $6.49
Price Per Ounce: $0.295
Claim To Fame: Protects against cracking and fading. Smooth, even application. Shine that lasts weeks. Armor All’s most extreme wet-black shine. Extra gloss enhancers for an intense, mirror-like shine. Conditions, nourishes, and preserves your tires’ rich black look.
Directions: Gently shake bottle. Hold bottle 4 to 6 inches from tire and spray evenly onto a clean, dry tire. Two passes around tire will give tires outstanding shine. Allow product to dry for at least 3 to 5 minutes. Do not wipe. Any drips will disappear, leaving a brilliant shine. For best results, let stand 15 minutes.
Note: Do not allow wash water to enter storm drains, streams, or lakes. Do not drive vehicle immediately after application when tires are extremely wet. Unabsorbed product may spin off tires onto car body panels.
Shine is what Armor All does. So it came as no surprise that the company’s Extreme Tire Shine did exactly what it said. The product’s consistency is almost that of gel and produced an instant mirror like shine as opposed to the deep wet look of others. The streaks disappeared as advertised, and the product didn’t run off the tire. It does, however, retain a decent amount of tack once set.
Photo 13/40   |   004 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 14/40   |   020 Tire Detailing Product Test
Hot Shine Tire Spray
Brand: Meguiar’s
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 24 ounces
Street Price: $6.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.291
Claim To Fame: Gives tires a deep, black, wet look. Fast, easy-to-use, adjustable two-way sprayer with narrow and wide spray.
Directions: Apply on a cool, clean, dry tire in a well-ventilated area. Adjust sprayer to match the width of your tire. Hold sprayer 4 to 6 inches away and spray onto tire in a thin, uniform pattern. Wipe off excess if needed.
Note: Avoid spin-off on painted and non-painted plastic panels. If spin-off occurs, remove immediately. Protect concrete from overspray to avoid staining.
Meguiar’s is a name that is synonymous with automotive detailing, so it’s understandable that we came into this test with certain expectations. The company’s Hot Shine Tire Spray applies how you would expect, with a rich, thick spray that clings well to the tire’s sidewall. The bottle has an adjustable nozzle with narrow and wide settings, however, there’s no indication of which is which. After sitting for 15 minutes, the streaks produced were still present and showed no sign of going away on their own, proving that wiping may be necessary.
Photo 15/40   |   005 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 16/40   |   021 Tire Detailing Product Test
Nitro Xtreme Gloss Tire Dressing
Brand: Simoniz
Type: Aerosol
Size: 13.75 ounces
Street Price: $5.50
Price Per Ounce: $0.400
Claim To Fame: Explosive shine. Applies in minutes. Longest lasting. No sling. Lasts up to 30 days.
Directions: Make sure tire is completely clean and dry. Shake can vigorously for at least 60 seconds. Hold can 4 to 6 inches from tire and begin spraying. Spray tire completely in thin, even coats. Coverage is complete when an even high-gloss shine appears and there are no drips or runs.
Note: Use a disposable towel to remove any overspray from wheels (not tires) immediately after application. If residue drips onto cement or blacktop, clean instantly with detergent solution. Do not apply to running boards of SUVs, as this may pose a slipping hazard.
Simoniz has an interesting product with its Nitro Xtreme Gloss Tire Dressing aerosol. The product has a very forceful spray, leading to an excessive amount of overspray. It’s also a very light product, which allows it to run down the sidewall. While it did in fact apply in just minutes and left a very rich shine, it was hardly “explosive” as claimed. Interestingly, it had the scent of a high-quality drive-thru car wash.
Photo 17/40   |   006 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 18/40   |   022 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 19/40   |   034 Tire Detailing Product Test
Outlast Tire Glaze
Brand: Armor All
Type: Aerosol
Size: 8 ounces
Street Price: $10.99
Price Per Ounce: $1.374
Claim To Fame: Gloss shine won’t come off when washed. Dries completely. No sling guaranteed. Shines for more than 100 car washes.
Directions: Make sure tires are clean and dry. Apply in a well-ventilated area. Hold can 4 to 6 inches from tire and spray uniformly onto tire sidewall using a quick, sweeping motion. Best results are achieved with a light to medium coat. Wipe off overspray from wheels or other car surfaces. Allow product to dry.
Note: To prevent staining, cover ground beneath tire before application.
Armor All’s Outlast Tire Glaze is a fascinating product. It’s applied at a low velocity, keeping overspray to a minimum. Tire Glaze was the only product that dried completely, leaving absolutely no residue behind. It was also the product that attracted the least amount of dirt, and the only product still showing a visible shine after our test was complete. While we can’t validate its claim of lasting more than 100 car washes, we are confident its shine will outlast all other products.
Photo 20/40   |   007 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 21/40   |   023 Tire Detailing Product Test
Tire Wet
Brand: Black Magic
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 23 ounces
Street Price: $4.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.217
Claim To Fame: America’s #1 favorite. Long-lasting extreme shine. Outshines all other tire sprays. Lasts up to four weeks.
Directions For High-Gloss: Lightly mist Tire Wet onto clean, dry tire sidewall. Allow product to penetrate for 1 to 3 minutes to reveal a brilliant, high-gloss shine.
Directions For Low-Gloss: Lightly mist Tire Wet onto clean, dry sponge or cloth. Apply Tire Wet to clean, dry tire sidewall using the sponge or cloth. Allow product to penetrate for 1 to 3 minutes to reveal a brilliant, low-gloss shine.
Note: Spray Tire Wet onto the inside of wheelwells for a dark, black finish and high-gloss shine. Do not apply to, or allow the product to contact the tread area. Wipe off excess to prevent spin-off, which may permanently stain some surfaces.
Claiming to be America’s favorite of anything is not something to be taken lightly. So when Black Magic claimed its Tire Wet to be just that, we were naturally a bit skeptical. Tire Wet sprays on thick, seemingly thickest of the bunch. The spray pattern from the bottle is sloppy, and 30 minutes later, the tire was still streaky and left with brown ooze. On the upside, it has a very flavorful aroma.
Photo 22/40   |   008 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 23/40   |   024 Tire Detailing Product Test
Ultimate Black Tire Coating
Brand: Meguiar’s
Type: Aerosol
Size: 8 ounces
Street Price: $13.99
Price Per Ounce: $1.749
Claim To Fame: Deep, black, glossy shine. Extreme durability lasts for more than a month. Advanced hydrophobic polymers create a water- and wear-resistant coating that will not peal or crack over time. Easy application.
Directions: Shake well before using. Apply on a cool, clean, dry tire in a well-ventilated area. For best results, thoroughly clean tire to remove dirt and previously applied tire dressing. Hold can 4 to 6 inches away and spray directly onto tire in a thin, uniform pattern. Wipe off any overspray from wheels and paint immediately. Allow at least one hour from application before driving. Product will fully cure in 24 hours.
Note: To enhance shine over time, simply reapply a thin coat of the product over the existing. Do not overapply to avoid spin-off onto painted surfaces and plastic panels. If any spin-off occurs, remove immediately. Remove any product immediately from cement or asphalt with detergent to prevent staining.
We’ve had very good luck with Meguiar’s Ultimate line of products over the years and translated that into high hopes for its Ultimate Black Tire Coating. Luckily, it did not disappoint. The product sprays on with a lot of force, however, it adheres very quickly and solidly to the tire sidewall, leaving little chance for overspray or sling. It provides a deep, black shine, with not an overabundance of gloss. It also smells a lot like grape, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Photo 24/40   |   009 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 25/40   |   025 Tire Detailing Product Test
Back-to-Black Tire Shine
Brand: Mothers
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 24 ounces
Street Price: $8.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.375
Claim To Fame: Long-lasting high-gloss finish. Adjustable nozzle reduces overspray.
Directions: For best results, use on clean, dry surface. Adjust spray pattern to match your tire’s profile. Hold bottle 5 to 6 inches from surface and spray directly on the tire sidewall and let dry to reveal a high-gloss shine. For a lower-gloss finish, allow product to penetrate a few minutes, and then wipe off excess.
Note: Do not use on motorcycles, windows, floors, or where slippery surfaces are undesirable.
Coming to us from the legendary detail product company Mothers is its famous Back-to-Black Tire Shine. Mothers employs a unique dual-action sprayer that provides either a narrow or wide spray pattern by simply pulling out on the nozzle tip. The spray liquid is a heavy viscosity and sticks to the tire well upon application. Streaks appear at first but give way to a nice, matte-gloss shine.
Photo 26/40   |   010 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 27/40   |   026 Tire Detailing Product Test
Tire Pro Beyond Black Dressing
Brand: Surf City Garage
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 24 ounces
Street Price: $13.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.583
Claim To Fame: Instant “new tire” shine. No gel, no grease, no sling. Tire-saving UV protection. Lasts for weeks. Enthusiast grade, 100-percent guaranteed.
Directions: Shake before use. For best results, clean tire first. Spray product directly on tire or applicator. Allow to dry before driving car.
Note: Do not use on motorcycle tires, seating surfaces, pedals, or any surfaces that would be hazardous if slippery.
Surf City Garage is a small outfit out of Huntington Beach, California, that sold its first detailing product in 2007. Beyond Black is its entry into the tire dressing market, and it’s safe to say the company nailed it. When applied, the product shares both color and consistency with that of low-fat milk. However, after about five minutes, it soaks in, leaving a high-gloss shine with little residue. An adjustable nozzle does spray, stream, and foam. Spray is the only useful setting for tires.
Photo 28/40   |   011 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 29/40   |   027 Tire Detailing Product Test
Performance Plus Wet’N Black Ultra Wet Tire Shine
Brand: Turtle Wax
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 23 ounces
Street Price: $5.49
Price Per Ounce: $0.239
Claim To Fame: Instant, wet, high-gloss shine. Deep, wet-looking shine lasts for weeks. Unique bonding chemistry maintains shine even after car washing. Self-leveling technology provides even coverage every time. UV inhibitors protect against drying and cracking.
Directions: Shake well. Spray evenly onto a clean, dry tire surface. Allow to penetrate for 3 to 5 minutes before driving. For maximum shine, repeat application. For small, intricate areas, spray product onto a clean, dry cloth and apply.
Note: Clean cement or blacktop surfaces immediately with strong detergent to avoid stains and slippery conditions. If tires are extremely wet with product, excess may spin off onto body panels. Lightly wipe tire with a clean, dry cloth if necessary.
Turtle Wax’s Wet’N Black Ultra Wet Tire Shine applies much like the product from Surf City Garage. It goes on with a very light viscosity and slightly white tint. After a few minutes, the streaks disappear and the shine evens out, leaving behind a nice gloss with little tack. This was one of the standouts in the group, and as a bonus it has a very pleasant scent as well.
Photo 30/40   |   012 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 31/40   |   028 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 32/40   |   033 Tire Detailing Product Test
No Touch Tire Care
Brand: No Touch
Type: Aerosol
Size: 21 ounces
Street Price: $6.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.333
Claim To Fame: The world’s original tire care formula. Original satin finish. Cleans, shines, protects. No wiping. No rubbing. No mess. Just spray and walk away.
Directions: Shake well before use. From 6 inches away, spray evenly to sidewall in one circular motion. Allow to dissolve, penetrate, and dry (10 to 15 minutes).
Note: No Touch Tire Care can be applied effectively to wet tires and other rubber surfaces. Avoid direct contact on O.E. and custom wheels. If oversprayed onto painted metal or wheel surfaces, simply wipe off upon contact. Wash excessively dirty tires first. Excess residue from tires can spot driveways. To avoid, rinse driveway immediately after use.
No Touch Tire Care is a different animal altogether. Unlike all the others, it can be applied straight to dirty or wet tires. It sprays on as thick white foam and, as it dries, it removes dirt particles. The shine left behind is low-gloss, as advertised. However, the product can streak, requiring a second application. Expect to get coverage for three or four sets of big tires before the can is depleted.
Photo 33/40   |   013 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 34/40   |   029 Tire Detailing Product Test
Lucas Slick Mist Tire & Trim Shine
Brand: Lucas Oil
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 24 ounces
Street Price: $9.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.412
Claim To Fame: Fast and easy. Used by professional auto show vehicle detailers to get a fast, new car tire shine. An exclusive Lucas formulation designed to give tires and trim a long-lasting, like-new shine. Water-based. Sling-resistant. Prevents sidewall brownout. UV-resistant. Overspray is not a problem on wheels. Environmentally friendly. Also an excellent wheel detailer.
Directions: Shake well before using. Spray as needed onto exterior surfaces, then wipe with a soft towel.
Note: Do not use any Slick Mist products on floors, vehicle controls, motorcycle seats or tires, bicycle seats or tires, brake drums, or any other surface where slipperiness may be hazardous. Avoid freezing.
Lucas Oil’s Slick Mist Tire & Trim Shine is a water-based detailing spray that can be used on tires as well as other plastic trim and molding. Being water-based means it is sprayed on with a very low viscosity and almost no tack at all. The product dripped down the sidewall quickly, while producing nasty brown ooze. The resulting shine is deep and wet, without being excessively glossy.
Photo 35/40   |   014 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 36/40   |   030 Tire Detailing Product Test
Barrett-Jackson Wet-Look Tire Shine
Brand: Barrett-Jackson Premium Auto Care
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 22 ounces
Street Price: $6.69
Price Per Ounce: $0.304
Claim To Fame: Intense wet-look shine. Wet, high-gloss shine won’t sling off. Silicone emulsions penetrate rubber and dries to the touch. Spray on and walk away, no wiping. Water-based formula won’t promote tire browning like other petroleum shines can.
Directions: Mist Wet-Look tire shine onto clean, dry tires. No wiping is necessary. Allow to dry. Dry time will vary with temperature and humidity. Use more as necessary for a clear, smooth, soaking-wet-look shine.
Note: Do not apply to vehicle controls, seating areas, cycle seats, or any other surface where slipperiness may be hazardous. Do not apply to painted surfaces, clear plastics, fabric, or glass.
New to the market is legendary auto auctioneers Barrett-Jackson with its new Wet-Look Tire Shine. The product claims it “won’t sling off,” however, it applies as a very wet, white, milky mess that quickly runs down the sidewall. It leaves behind a deep, wet look but takes a couple of applications to clear up the streaks.
Photo 37/40   |   015 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 38/40   |   031 Tire Detailing Product Test
WET Tire Shine
Brand: Eagle One
Type: Liquid Spray
Size: 23 ounces
Street Price: $6.99
Price Per Ounce: $0.304
Claim To Fame: You control the shine: lasting satin or high gloss. Contains special additives that improve the life of the shine. Use also in wheelwells and on exterior trim to help restore luster.
Directions For High-Gloss Shine: Lightly mist onto a clean, dry tire. Allow 1 to 3 minutes to dry for a rich, high-gloss shine. Wipe off excess to prevent sling, which may permanently stain some surfaces.
Directions For Low-Gloss Shine: Lightly mist onto a clean, dry applicator cloth or Eagle One Tire Swipes. Wipe onto tire, spreading evenly, and allow 1 to 3 minutes to dry.
Note: Do not use on motorcycle tires.
Eagle One’s WET Tire Shine applied with a controlled spray pattern and medium consistency. It clung to the sidewall nicely and produced a decent high-gloss shine rather quickly. Like others of this nature, it left decent streaks and without wiping will surely fling off. Don’t apply while hungry, as its scent has been described as delicious!
Photo 39/40   |   016 Tire Detailing Product Test
Photo 40/40   |   032 Tire Detailing Product Test
Orange Crush Wet-Black Tire Shine
Brand: DUB, Developed by Meguiar’s
Type: Aerosol
Size: 17 ounces
Street Price: $4.90
Price Per Ounce: $0.288
Claim To Fame: For the wettest glossy tires. Adjustable nozzle for best spray width. Turbo-charged scent. A unique blend of quality ingredients and technology to bring you better results.
Directions: Shake well. Hold can 4 to 6 inches away. Spray directly onto clean, dry, cool tire. Wipe off excess, as needed.
Note: Do not use on motorcycles or bicycles or surfaces that should not become slippery, such as tire tread. Use adjustable nozzle for narrow to wider spray to avoid overspray. Apply a second coat for more shine.
Seeing “Developed by Meguiar’s” on the can had us cautiously optimistic as we pulled the DUB Orange Crush Wet-Black Tire Shine off the clearance shelf. The product has a very powerful spray, which leads to a lot of overspray possibility. Fortunately, you can adjust between low, medium, and heavy spray by just twisting the nozzle. It produces a deep, wet, black look, just as advertised, and smells like an orange air freshener hanging in a chemical plant.

Sources

Meguiar's
Irvine, CA 92614
800-347-5700
www.meguiars.com
Eagle One
Lexington, KY 40512
http://www.eagleone.com
Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
800-723-2553
http://www.falkentire.com
Lucas Oil
Corona, CA 92880
951-270-0154
www.lucasoil.com
Mothers
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
714-891-3364
www.mothers.com
Turtle Wax
Westmont, IL 60559
800-887-8539
www.turtlewax.com
Armor All
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
714-362-0600
www.armorall.com
Barrett-Jackson Premium Auto Care
http://www.barrett-jacksonautocare.com/
Surf City Garage
http://surfcitygarage.com/
Purple Power
http://clean-rite.com/

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