When you last bought a car, you might have observed shiny tires when taking delivery. They didn’t come that way from the factory, but car dealers like to detail cars with an eye-catching gloss on tires.

We recently had a reader ask if we ever tested products that claim to protect tires from exposure from sunlight and air pollution. As it turns out, there are several products on the market that claim to protect a tire from harmful ambient conditions like UV light and air pollution. Sometimes called a tire dressing or protectant, these products promise to protect and enhance the appearance of a tire. Depending on the product, you can achieve anything from a soft satin to a shiny, wet appearance that, in our experience, fades away over time.

Many products claim to clean the sidewall, removing harsh dirt and oils that might degrade the rubber over time. And some products claim to act like a blocker or sun-screen for your tires, reducing the harmful aging effects of UV light and ozone that make rubber hard and brittle leading to cracking. Owners of RVs and camper trailers often consider using these “anti-aging” products to protect the tires from the elements when they are apt to be parked for long periods of time.

We have not tested any of these products, but we did ask for feedback from Bridgestone, Continental, and Michelin. The clear consensus was that today’s car tires are formulated to resist the harmful effects of UV light and ozone.  

Continental did not recommend use of lubricants or chemicals to the tire, and Michelin said tires should be cleaned with soap and water. Bridgestone said their tires have antioxidants and waxes in the tire to protect them from the environment. A dull appearance may occur overtime, but this is just the waxes migrating to the surface and actually helps protect the tire. This is where some owners might want to spruce up the tire’s dull appearance, though could unintentionally remove the barrier that protects the tire in the first place. Aftermarket protectants may shield a tire from harmful elements, but if they are not used routinely, they could leave the tire exposed.

No tire is immune to aging, but you can lessen that threat by maintaining proper inflation pressure and storing unused tires indoors, out of sunlight, and at normal room temperature. Any tire with cracking should not be used.

Tires do age and degrade with time. Check the DOT code on the tire sidewall. (See “How to Read a Tire Sidewall”) The last four digits are the week and year of manufacturer. Some automakers recommend removing a tire from service that is six years old, while others say 10 years should be the cut off. (Learn more about tire storage in a pdf from the Rubber Manufactures Association.)

The bottom line is that the tire makers we spoke with say aftermarket products are not needed to preserve tires and that the shine is merely for cosmetics.  

See our complete tire buying guide and ratings.