Cleaning Whitewall Tyres
Maintaining White Wall or White Letter Tyres
Whitewall or raised white letters tyres will need continual maintenance; they are not a fit and forget item. You will need to keep the tyres clean, usually just with hot soapy water.
NEVER USE tyre shine products on Whitewall or RWL letters, many of these products have enhancers for black tyres that will discolour the white rubber permanently.
Tyre manufactures are continually pushing the chemistry and design to create tyres that can keep up with the demand of today's cars and drivers. Higher mileage, more miles per gallon, better all-weather traction, higher speed and increased road holding as cars get better, faster the tyres they roll on must change to keep up. We expect increased performance from our vehicles and tyres are an integral part of that, but rarely do we take the time to understand what exactly has changed about tyres other than going from Bias to Radial ply in the late 60's. Over the years we have had E marks and ECE legislation, then tyre labelling to see how noisy and fuel economy and wet weather braking, there are also demands on tyre manufactures that we do not damage the environment and are banning ingredients that tyre manufacturers used because of their carcinogenic properties and the environmental impact.
A few years ago there was a change in the law making it illegal to sell tyres that were not PAH compliant. PAH meant that manufacturers had to remove oils that were carcinogenic and since that time we have experienced tyre bloom problem, the thing is more carcinogens are produced burning a sausage on a BBQ than produced by a tyre in its whole life. For detailed information just put “my tyres are going brown” in Google you will see black tyres go brown as well. It’s recommend to use a tyre shine, but this cannot be used on a whitewall as it will turn the white area of your tyre brown even quicker. Any tyre shine product is bad news for a whitewall tyre.
Unfortunately all brands of tyres now need a higher degree of cleaning and even a stored vehicle will be affected by tyre blooming.
Those who have had whitewall tyres for many years all have secrets to keeping them white. We do sell a whitewall product which is listed together with all the white wall tyres, the best that we have seen is brake fluid and a very fine wet and dry sandpaper. Be careful not to rub too hard as all the narrow band whitewalls and RWL tyres including BFG use a whitewall veneer, only the wide whitewalls have a white rubber sidewall.
An anti-ozonant is probably something you've never heard of. It's an organic compound added to rubber materials that prevents, or at the very least, slows the deterioration caused by exposure to the elements. Anti-ozonants are used as an additive in almost all of the exterior rubber and plastic parts to one degree or another, but they are most prevalent in tyre manufacturing. The anti-ozonant additive helps to slow plastics and rubbers from becoming dry, brittle, oxidized and cracked. It does this by preventing the surface of the material from oxidizing and keeps the material pliable.
Thanks to anti-ozonants in rubber compounds we have high mileage tyres, performance tyres, and everything in between. Without anti-ozonants sports cars would shred tires incredibly fast. Even your daily driven commuter car would need tyres far more often as the sun and heat slowly rotted away the rubber compounds.
Tyre rubber compounds are designed in a way that allows the anti-ozonant to continually work its way to the outside of the tire and as such, continually keeps the outer surface and sidewall pliable and resistant to oxidation.
Once anti-ozonant reaches the outside of the tire and is exposed to air and moisture it oxidizes, the result being a brownish residue. The term for this is 'tyre blooming'.
Making matters worse is the use of mould releases in the manufacturing processes. These lubricant type chemicals provide a non-stick surface for the inside of a tyre mould. The mould release chemical bonds with the tire and hold anti-ozonants onto the surface of the tyre. While some people will point to mould release as the primary and/or only source of tyre blooming, it is in fact often only a part of the problem. Even after the removal of mould release a tyre will continue to push anti-ozonant to the surface allowing the brown residue to return.