Why Are My Tires Brown?

You may not realize it, but tires are important when it comes to the overall look of your car. Over long periods of time, the rubber from your tires start to degrade, and can sometimes get a brown residue on the surface. This is known mostly as “Tire Browning” or “Tire Blooming”. Now, let’s take a look at why this happens and how you can clean and protect your tires.

What Causes Tire Blooming?

Browning is caused by a chemical ingredient called Antiozonant. Antiozonant is a chemical ingredient that is added to tire rubber to help prevent ozone from causing cracking, splitting, and degradation of the tire surface. Once the antiozonant comes in contact with the ozone in the air, the oxidation then turns it brown. The technical term for this effect is blooming.

Now you’re probably thinking, “What’s the best way to prevent this?” Protection is ultimately the only way to completely prevent tire blooming, but if this does happen to you there are a couple of ways you can try to clear it up. In some cases, you can use a simple car wash soap that can remove some of the brown from the tires. Using a tire cleaner that’s too harsh may remove the outer layer of the rubber and might end up making the tire blooming worse. Try to use a tire cleaner that’s strong enough to remove existing contaminants, but not so strong that it could damage the tire or wheel coating. After you’ve finished washing the tire, it may not appear to go away completely. That’s where the tire dressing comes in.

Tire Protectants

In order to finish the job of removing tire blooming or, even better, completely avoiding it in the first place you’ll want to use some type of tire protectant. There are two main types of tire protectants out there: water-based and solvent-based. Water-based dressings won’t harm rubber over time. They are usually a combination of natural oils and synthetic polymers. Some of these water-based dressings contain UVR blocking agents to help prevent tires from fading, cracking and hardening. Water-based products also tend to be more environmentally friendly than their solvent and polymer-based counterparts.

Which brings us to solvent-based tire dressings. This type of dressing has silicone and leaves a clear, glossy film on the surface of the tire. Pay attention to the ingredients of the product you’re using. Some dressings have petroleum distillate, and over time, may increase the dryness and cracking of the surface of the tire. The main difference between water-based and solvent-based dressings is in the “carrier”. Solvent-based products use a hydrocarbon silicone to suspend the product whereas water-based products use water.

Prevention is always preferable to reactionary measures. Make sure you’re using a good tire conditioner to keep your tires in good health, you shouldn’t have to worry about future browning or cracking if you have a good conditioner set in.

Have any other tire blooming remedies? Share your stories with us!