Tire Dressing

 Foaming tire dressing freshly applied


Dressing is often an overlooked part of the exterior detailing process. I've been detailing for many years, applying dressing after a wash is just a routine step for me!

I have seen so many people putting in the effort on their vehicles exterior. They put a lot of care and attention on the body but don't pay much attention to the tires. Its a bit of a let down to see a perfectly clean car with dull brown tires!


A 2009 Dodge Charger SRT-8, ready for a detail!

 Dressings come in 3 different types, liquid, foaming, and gel. There are dozens and dozens of brands to choose from. A few points to base your decision could be, ease of use, how long it will last, level of shine, and cost.

I mention level of shine because the cool thing about dressings is you can choose based on how you want your tires to look. Some people love a super glossy appearance, others may not want shine, simply a clean matte black finish. Others may want something in between. There really are dressings available for all preferences.

After the Charger was washed, the wheels, wheel wells, and tires cleaned, a liquid tire dressing was applied. Dressing really provided the "wow" factor!


Gels are usually the most expensive of the 3 types of dressings. However, they tend to repel water better than the other 2. This means one application of a gel will keep your tires looking great longer.


Gel dressings will need to be applied with a tire dressing applicator. A small sponge will also do the trick if your dressing didn't come with an applicator. Its also a good idea to wear latex gloves or something similar. Applying dressings like these by hand can be quite messy.


Wearing gloves is a good idea as dressings can be a greasy mess if you aren't careful!


Foam dressing is by far the easiest to use. Simply spray the tires and walk away. The foam dissolves leaving your tires nice and shiny. For best results, spray at least 6 inches away from the tire for optimal coverage.

It takes some practice, but do your best to avoid spraying foam all over the wheels! Tire foam will also leave a greasy stain on the driveway or whatever surface the vehicle is on. You may want to drive the car onto some cardboard first to prevent staining the pavement.

Liquid dressings are usually in the same price range as foam. Just like applying gels, its best to apply liquid dressing with an applicator or small sponge.

You can spray directly onto the tire but I do not recommend it. Doing so will result in overspray on the wheels, brakes, wheel wells, the paint, and the pavement. Especially if its windy!

If you have used dressings before, have you noticed greasy specs on your paint after going for a drive? This is caused by the dressing not having enough time to set up on the tire before driving.

If you have the time, a good tip is to allow the dressing to set up for an hour after application. Once the hour has passed, give the tires a quick buff with a clean dry rag or a dry sponge. This will remove any excess dressing that may still be present.


Allowing the dressing to set up is key, regardless if its a liquid, foam, or gel. This will ensure you get the longest lasting shine/protection out of your dressing of choice.


Here is a nice C6 Corvette convertible entered in a local car show. Cool car but to me what took away from the appearance was the dull brown tires! A few minutes spent applying a dressing could have made a big difference.


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