April 22, 2023: Tire Restore

Rejuvinating that sharp, crisp luster of showroom tires.

When it comes to tires I've been an advocate for a "natural" look for a while now. Many people seem to enjoy that artificial glossy tire shine but for me it's an excessive, over-the-top blingy look which detracts from a classy aesthetic. Over the last 5 years I've been running around with non-dressed tires ("because rubber should look like rubber!") but ultimately conceded that I prefer tires that look a bit darker with a slight sheen. Not super-black and super shiny as if it just got a fresh coat of paint, but a more low-key, satin finish like how tires are jazzed up in a showroom.

In the distant past (when I didn't know any better) I've used several different tire dressings including Meguiar's Endurance Tire Gel, Meguiar's Hot Shine Tire Foam, and maybe a few others available at the local auto parts stores. When I discovered the auto detailing specialty forums maybe 15 years ago I moved onto more boutique products with matte-leaning finishes and longer durability claims. The problem with gel-based products is they tend to sling onto the side panels unless applied extremely lightly, and water-based dressings seem more user-friendly when it comes to applying thin layers that self-level (so it comes out even and not blotchy) but often don't last long, perhaps limited to a couple of weeks (or less if it rains a few times).

Car detailing can be an obsession after a while, should you choose to venture down that rabbit hole.

I came across the Gyeon brand a long while back and finally decided to try their Quartz Q2 Tire product. Contains SiO2 (silicon dioxide) so the fancy marketing claims longevity. It was either that or CarPro Perl (which I recently bought separately for other areas of the car since Gyeon's offering seemed to have better staying power according to various online reviews). It's important to bear in mind that the auto detailing industry has no shortage of marketers willing to hawk products that seem borderline snake oil (and many also seem to be simply adding their own name to white label products to begin with).

The Q2 Tire bottle alone clues you in how much of the product cost went into the marketing. Oooo, blue liquidness in a crystal glass looking thing. An alien magic concoction to restore! protect! make new! your car's old shoes.

For any dressing or coating to work optimally it's important to really clean the surface to ensure product adhesion and durability is maximized. To clean the tires I use Meguiar's D14301 (or D413 in bottle form) along with a stiff-bristle tire brush like this and an old toothbrush to remove any browning/blooming, dirt, etc. Sometimes more than one or two cleaning passes are necessary. I've also occasionally used mineral spirits to really get the surface stripped bare of any leftover residue from previous dressings, although this isn't recommended to do often (maybe if you're switching between different dressing products). Probably not as big of a concern for the normal life of a tire.

Also ensure the tires are completely dry before applying dressing. I use a MetroVac Sidekick SK-1 to speed up the process, but a leaf blower or just some patience will achieve the same thing.

After applying a light coating on the tire sidewall with a foam applicator (I use this one), wait 15 minutes and then lightly buff off with a microfiber towel. If you prefer a glossy, hey-look-at-my-tires-as-they-burn-your-eyes-in-the-sunlight look, then skip this second step. Although you can start driving right after, it's probably good to let it sit another hour or more for everything to cure and level out on the sidewall markings and design texture.

On this first attempt I laid the coating on a little too thick and should've buffed it down more aggressively since the result the next day was a little too shiny for my liking. I'm not trying to flaunt my tires, you know. I'm not that insecure.

The overall result: a "blacker" tire creates more contrast to the rest of the car and increases that just-out-of-the-factory look we all love. It also makes your eyes notice other areas of the car which have faded over time, namely plastic trim and rubber seals. This is where I intend to try CarPro Perl once it arrives in the mail. The older Model S has plastic rocker panel trims as well as the plastic rear diffuser and front splitter which undoubtedly gives away the car's age as they've developed sun-faded gray patina after 8+ years. The plastic wheel well liners in the front also stand out and could use similar attention along with the front grills beneath the nose cone as they've become faded black. Restoring those grills is going to take some patience.

Crusty-looking wheel wells which hopefully some cleaning and CarPro Perl will solve:

As someone who's competing with every new Tesla rolling around in my neighborhood these days (and boy there are a lot of them), it's time to up my game, especially since these areas on newer Model S are painted unlike first generation units like mine. If anything it would help maintain neighborhood property values or something.

So we'll see how long this Gyeon product will live up to its hype. At this time in the year I don't expect to see much harsh road/weather conditions in the SF Bay Area so perhaps a few months of durability might be reasonable, unlike many other similar dressings which last a few weeks at best. Hopefully next week I'll bring the underside plastics to their former glory.

Then we'll see who's a proud owner when I'm hanging out at the Supercharger and cross-eyeing other cars next to me in this unannounced clean car combat.

Man, I'm so vain.