Thursday, January 20, 2022
Which Tyre Dressing Do I Need?

We’ve said it before and we’ll doubtless say it again, but tyres are one of the most criminally overlooked aspects of a modern car, which is especially weird when you realise that they’re your only point of contact with the road! Quite apart from keeping you safe, on the road and out of hedgerows, tyres can also have a huge impact on how your car looks; clean, dark tyres with an appropriate gloss or matte finish can complement a set of alloys and act as the ‘icing on the cake’ detailing wise. On the other hand, a set of tyred (see what we did there?), grubby boots with faded side walls isn’t going to do your pride and joy’s appearance any favours at all.

It’s a deceptively complex business and one with multiple products and several schools of thought, hence why we’ve put together this handy tyre guide.

The fact that Instant Tyre Dressing comes in a spray bottle means that it’s ideal for last minute cleaning sessions

The Autoglym range isn’t exactly short on tyre specific products, with the two best known being Instant Tyre Dressing (very much an old favourite and a stalwart of the Autoglym lineup), and High Performance Tyre Gel, a far more recent addition. They key differences between the two are that Instant Tyre Dressing comes in a spray applicator bottle meaning it’s quicker to apply, and can also be used on both wet or dry tyres to give a light sheen or a matte finish respectively. As the name implies, High Performance Tyre Gel comes in a thicker, more gelatinous form and it can only be applied to dry rubber. Both products have their uses of course, and we’ll look at their respective capabilities in greater detail in a moment.

It should be noted that you should only ever attempt to dress the sidewalls of your tyre, never the contact patch or tread. Again, this is common sense stuff, but we have seen people attempt to apply Autoglym dressing products to every inch of their tyres before…

It makes a great deal of sense to tackle your tyres at the same time as your wheels – your back will certainly thank you for it!

When To Apply

It makes a great deal of sense to clean and dress your tyres at the same time as your wheels. Not only will it save you time, effort and excess back strain, doing so actually helps give you a better overall finish; you can apply Autoglym wheel cleaner to your sidewalls at the same time as the alloy, then agitate it using the same brush. This is a great way to rid the tyre sidewall of old dressings, excess dirt and other contaminants, none of which you want clinging to the tyre before you apply your dressing. If you want to take things to extremes, a scrub with Intensive Tar Remover will remove all previously applied dressings from the rubber.

Instant Tyre Dressing is as effective as it is easy to use – a win-win situation

Wet Or Dry

Whether you treat your tyres while they’re wet or dry rather depends on the amount of time you have at your disposal, and also the overall effect you want. Instant Tyre Dressing can be applied equally effectively to both wet and dry rubber, which makes it perfect to apply if you are short on time; simply spray on an even coating and the durable polymer silicone protectants will go to work.

The above being said, most detailers want as long a lasting treatment as possible which is where High Performance Tyre Gel comes into its own. This is a product which should only ever be applied to a dry tyre (we recommend using an old cleaning towel to ensure all the moisture has been removed), the environment in which it was designed to excel. Use Autoglym’s Perfect Polish Applicator or an applicator sponge to apply an even coating of High Performance Tyre Gel, then work the product into the contours of the tyre, adding more if required.

High Performance Tyre Gel is another weapon in the war against grimy tyres, and one with a completely different formulation to that of Instant Tyre Dressing

High Gloss Or Low Sheen 

You are either in one camp or the other, high gloss or subtle sheen. All Autoglym tyre dressings can give you both. You can either apply and allow the product to dry to a high gloss, or remove the excess after a few minutes to leave a stunning low sheen, matt finish.  If you are a fan of the high gloss, you can apply a second coating at a later date – but beware that a build up of excess product on the tyre wall will increase your chances of product fling.

High gloss or low sheen? The choice is yours.


It should be noted that both Instant Tyre Dressing and High Performance Tyre Gel are proven products, yet they do have their respective strong suits. The fact that the former comes in a spray applicator means it’s ideal for impromptu detailing sessions while away from home; it’s easy to use and gets to work quickly, meaning you should really have a bottle at your disposal if you’ve a summer of car events lined up and you can’t guarantee a dry tyre.

The viscosity of High Performance Tyre Gel, coupled with its super durable formulation, means that it’s a longer lasting product, and also one which is well suited to tyres with embossed/patterned sidewalls. It’s relatively thick, meaning it can be applied sparingly and used to accentuate certain features of the sidewall (lettering), while the fact that it must be added by hand using an applicator means that it won’t be blown onto your bodywork on windy days. It’s a slightly more involved application process, granted, but one which undoubtedly reaps long term rewards further down the line – your tyres will look superb for longer.

It’s all too easy to over-apply the likes of High Performance Tyre Gel, so it’s very much a case of ‘less is more’

General Application Guidelines

It’s worth going over some general guidelines when it comes to tyre dressings, advice which applies for both Instant Tyre Dressing and High Performance Tyre Gel. The old adage of ‘less is more’ undoubtedly rings true here, primarily because there is only so much product that your average tyre sidewall can physically absorb! Apply too much too thickly, and you’ll effectively be layering one layer on top of another. Not only will this be a massive waste of Autoglym product, it may end up flung up the side of your clean car.


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