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Published Oct. 3, 2021

Cleaning and protecting your car is one of the most rewarding things you can do, period. There’s a level of instant gratification that’s really hard to find anywhere else, but if you forget to shine your tires, the whole thing falls apart and all your work may have well been for nothing. That might be hyperbole, but tire shine is the little cherry on top that ties everything together to help your car feel showroom ready. Not only that, but tire dressings do actually help to extend the life of your tires by keeping them hydrated and creating a protective barrier from the elements. Not all tire shines are the same, though, which is why we want to help you understand what makes them different and talk about some of our favorites on the market.

Best Tire Shine Reviews & Recommendations

This tire shine doubles as vinyl and plastic protectant, leaves a high shine, smells pleasant, and is rather affordable. It’s hard to put together a list of recommended detailing products without including Chemical Guys. The brand is renowned for its top-of-the-line car care products, and it’s probably no surprise to see its shine as our top product. Extremely versatile, the protectant can be used on vinyl, plastic, and, of course, rubber. It applies easily with an applicator pad, offering total control over the product, and leaves a pleasant glossy, not greasy, shine.

It’s also a water-based product that won’t stain or sling easily, and it does have Chemical Guys’ signature touch of pleasant aroma, making it even more enjoyable to use. Despite being a versatile product from a premium name, it sits at a very competitive price point. While this is a heavy hitter, it isn’t perfect. The formula is water-based, and it does wash away easily. Unlike many other tire shines, you will need to apply multiple coats in order to prevent it from wearing away in short order. We should also point out that it is heat sensitive and becomes very thin and difficult to work with if the bottle gets too warm.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Chemical Guys
  • Part Number TVD_107_16
  • Type Water-based gel
  • Finish Glossy
PROS

Safe for use on multiple parts of the vehicle

Competitive pricing

Pleasant smell

CONS

Washes away easily

Use of multiple coats is best

Becomes runny and hard to use when warm

It’s affordable, it’s easy to apply, and it holds up. We all love affordable products that are easy to use, but while that seems to be a tall order for many today, it’s not the case for Black Magic’s tire shine. A high-gloss tire shine that sprays on with the power of aerosol, it’s certainly much quicker to apply than gels or sprays from a bottle. That said, it sits at an exceptionally low price point, making it a fantastic option for quick touch-ups.

Despite its convenient nature, it does an excellent job of resisting the elements and is known to stick around for longer than average. It’s important to note that aerosol has its downfalls, though. It’s very easy to overspray, and that can be an issue, especially with a solvent-based formula like this, which can ruin your car’s paint. Furthermore, it does seem that there are also quality control issues that lead to inconsistent performance of the spray.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Black Magic
  • Part Number BC23220
  • Type Solvent-Based Aerosol Spray
  • Finish Glossy
PROS

Affordable price point

Easy to apply

Lasts longer than average

CONS

Aerosol spray can be difficult to control

Product may harm paint

Quality control issues are somewhat common

This powerful dressing bonds to the tires exceptionally well, leaves behind a high shine, and acts as a protectant. What if you’ve got a fleet of vehicles that need a good cleaning? A 14-ounce bottle isn’t doing you any favors, so here we have an excellent option from TriNova for professional detailers or folks who just want to keep enough tire shine on hand to last the foreseeable future. This gallon jug of tire shine leaves behind a high-gloss appearance and is known to last much longer than much of the competition.

It also offers a highly protective dust-repellent coating that will help your tire in the long run. Furthermore, it’s highly resistant to moisture, and you don’t need to worry about the rain washing it away on you. As for the drawbacks, there’s no denying that the price does limit this to a select demographic. Furthermore, the shine takes longer to apply because of the required 15-minute waiting period. We’ll also point out there is no spray bottle included with this gallon.

Specs
  • Manufacturer TriNova
  • Part Number 33532
  • Type Solvent-based spray
  • Finish Glossy
PROS

Long-lasting supply

Highly resistant to elements

Powerful protectant

CONS

High price point

Long application process

No spray bottle included

Slick mist tire shine is easy to apply, smells great, and leaves behind a rich matte finish, and the other cleaners help you refresh the remainder of the vehicle. Lucas Oil’s Slick Mist tire shine is worth the cost of this kit alone as it leaves behind a rich, matte finish that helps a tire to look as good as it did on day one. It smells fantastic, it’s water-based, easy to apply, and safe for use on trim and other black surfaces that may need to be refreshed. It also offers a layer of UV protection, which does help those surfaces stay healthy. It just so happens to be available in a handy package that also includes the Slick Mist interior detailer and speed wax.

Maybe calling this an investment was a stretch because this kit does sit at a very competitive price point. As good as the tire shine is, it’s not perfect. It does leave behind a unique finish, but it doesn’t last very long. Something like a week’s worth of protection is about average. It also does wash away easily, and the thin consistency does make it messy to work with.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Lucas Oil
  • Part Number 10558
  • Type Water-based spray
  • Finish Matte
PROS

Includes other detailing sprays

Easy to apply

Unique finish

Pleasant smell

Can be used on multiple parts of the car

CONS

Short-lived

Washes away easily

Runny consistency can be messy

The applicator pad helped it to stand out, but the versatility and overall performance make it worthy of a mention. The last product on our list is a heavy hitter and the only dressing to come with an applicator pad. That pad will help you make sure you disperse the dressing correctly to achieve the best possible results. It also comes in an 18-ounce bottle, which will last far longer than many of your other options. As for the spray itself, it’s a water-based dressing that aims to provide your tires with a rich satin finish. It will last for a few weeks in the right conditions and creates a protective UV barrier that keeps your tires from aging rapidly.

You can also safely use this product to refresh the faded black trim on your entire vehicle. As with most multi-purpose dressings, water is the enemy. While it does resist UV rays and other elements, rain will wash it away in no time. We should also mention that photos indicate it’s glossier than we’d expect, even though this product claims to leave behind a satin finish. Furthermore, the spray pattern is difficult to control, so it’s a good thing that the pad is included.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Car Guys
  • Part Number 5841716230
  • Type Water-Based Spray
  • Finish Satin
PROS

Application pad included

Easy to apply

Can be used on multiple parts of the vehicle

CONS

Washes away easily

Finish doesn’t always match description

Spray pattern is hard to control

How We Selected The Products

There are a lot of things that make tire shines different from one another. How well they protect, the shine they produce, how well they stick to the tire, and the level of protection they offer are all things to consider. Thankfully, they aren’t expensive, and you’re free to try different things out to dial in on which is best. 

We haven’t tried every tire shine out there, but we have had our hands on a good amount and seen different types out in the wild. So, much of our recommendations are based on personal experience. Also, if we have no experience using the shines on our list, we made sure to read into each product to ensure that they do a decent job at spiffing up and protecting the rubber.  

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

Tire shine selection is almost entirely based on personal preference and that’s mostly because of the fact that different tire shines create different textures and appearances that need to match your taste. So, even if everyone else really likes a product, there’s no guarantee that it will appeal to you. That’s why we want to set you up with a buying guide to make sure that you get the appearance you prefer from a product that actually performs.

What to Consider When Buying Tire Shine

Types of Tire Shine

It’s probably no surprise to learn that each tire shine consists of a formula unique to each manufacturer. While that helps them produce a product that you can’t find anywhere else, it means that you need to do a little homework to decide which is best for you. Some of that information can only truly be understood in the real world, but we can at least help you understand the basic differences between formulas. 

Solvent-Based

High-gloss tire shines are typically solvent-based and help the tire shine to bond better with the tire and are also water repellent. In other words, it’s not going to fade or wash away in short order. It’s critical to maintain control of this tire shine during the application, though. The harsh nature of the solvents can wreak havoc on the wheels and stain the driveway. You also need to ensure that you don’t over-apply the product, creating a situation where it slings all over your vehicle’s paint. 

Water-Based

Water-based tire shines tend to deliver a matte-finish and are far less aggressive than solvent-based formulas. We’re not saying you don’t need to be mindful of where the tire shine ends up, but it’s not likely to be as harmful to other parts of your car or your driveway. In fact, some water-based shines can be used on black wheels or trim. Water and oil don’t mix, though, so water-based shines typically don’t bond to the tire quite as well as solvents. If you do prefer the looks of this type of shine, you should expect to apply it a little more frequently, especially after inclement weather. 

Gel 

You also have the option of working with gels or sprays when it comes to tire shine. Gels are usually more affordable, but they do take more time to apply as you need to apply them to a pad or rag first. A side benefit of this process is that it offers better control over the application, helping you minimize any room for accidents. 

Tire Shine Key Features

Now that we’ve got the boring part out of the way, let’s talk about what makes a tire shine worth your time and effort. These key features will help you hone in on the shine that not only matches your taste but will do a good job of keeping your tires safe from the elements. 

Finish 

We usually put something like protection ahead of the finish, but the finish is a major deal. It’s wise to take the time and really study the appearance of a shine you’re considering. Some glosses are shinier than others, some matte finishes are darker than the competition, so on and so forth. You can certainly play around with things to find what you like, but a little bit of homework goes a long way. On that note, be leery of overly glossy products. There’s a difference between greasy and glossy. If the product appears to sit on the surface rather than bond to it, you can expect slinging to be a real issue. 

Protection

Tires are made with rubber and even if the compound is designed for use as a tire, it’s still inherently delicate. Tires need to stay hydrated but not soaking wet, the sun wreaks havoc on rubber with its UV rays, and the elements can work against them. Let’s not forget the many harsh chemicals used to treat our roadways and their toll on rubber components.  

Thankfully, tire shines can work to revitalize and protect our tires to a degree. Of course, every manufacturer will claim it is superior in this division. It’s worth taking the time to read up on other’s experiences with a product to get a feel for how well it actually performs. 

Application

Some shines immediately bond to the surface and are easy to spread out, while others take a little more time and effort. So, even if you’re only considering gels or sprays, you still want to read up on how easy it is to apply properly. That said, if a product is difficult to apply but does an outstanding job at protecting your tires and making them look pretty, it’s worth the elbow grease. 

Tire Shine Tips and Tricks

Tire shines are simple, and there’s no need for us to overcomplicate the matter with a drawn-out discussion on all the little nuances that exist. Besides, personal preference is a key player here, and the best thing you can do to find the tire shine you like best is by trying different things. Still, we can set you up with some quick tips to ensure you have a good experience with your product. 

Clean The Tires 

Tire shine is a dressing, not a cleaner. It can’t remove any build-ups or deposits on the tire’s surface. It also won’t bond well to rubber that’s surface is polluted with contaminants. Take the time to scrub your tires before applying to ensure you get the best results. 

Don’t Forget the Inside

It’s easy to concern yourself only with what you can see. There is an inner portion of the tire, though, and it’s worth protecting. If you’re giving your wheels and tires a good cleaning, take the time to remove the assembly and give the inside edges the attention they deserve. We know from experience that spotting cracked-up sidewalls from underneath the car can be extremely discouraging. 

Dedicate an Applicator 

It’s tempting to use those blue shop rags or an old hand towel to apply tire shine, and it will work alright. However, it’s not the best solution. Applicator pads have that name for a reason, and your best bet is to dedicate one solely to applying tire shine. Just make sure not to use it for wax later on. 

FAQs

Coverage of all the basics might not address the concerns you have. That’s exactly why we want to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about tire shines that we found on the world wide web.

Q: Does tire shine hurt tires?

No, tire shines won’t hurt your tires. They won’t halt aging, though — they simply slow it down. So if you still see the tires starting to brown or crack, despite your use of tire shine, it’s usually on account of the tire’s shelf life, not a harmful product. 

Q: Does tire shine prevent dry rot?

Tire shine does keep your tires hydrated, but it can only slow things down. Tires are made of materials that will break down and dry out over time, even if treated with care. However, proper care for the tire can keep this from occurring before you run out of tread. 

Q: Can I use olive oil to shine my tires?

Yes, you can shine your tires with olive oil, and it will actually do a good job of sprucing up your tires. It’s not a carefully crafted formula solely designed for use on tires, though. In other words, you can’t expect it to last or perform like a real tire shine. 

Q: What happens if tire shine gets on your car?

Tire shines can be aggressive formulas that really seep into the rubber of your tire. Some formulas are strong enough to strip protective layers of your paint and can even damage the paint itself. That’s why it’s important to read into each product and apply it properly so that you don’t get it on the paint and prevent slinging.

Q: Can I use tire shine on other parts of my car?

That depends on the exact product you’re using. However, it’s not rare for tire shines to serve multiple purposes. In some cases, you can use tire shine to restore trim and other black surfaces on your car.  

Final Thoughts

Again, we think the versatility and value of the Chemical Guys VRP Vinyl Rubber Plastic Protectant make it a heavy hitter. However, we do see the draw to something more affordable such as Black Magic BC23220 Tire Wet Spray. What do you think, though? We’d love to know your personal take on which is the best tire shine on the market!

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