Why Do My New Tires Look Dirty? [And What To Do About It]

So you just bought brand new tires, but wait, why aren't they all black and shiny? Why do they look old and dirty? Could it be that they've given you old tires? Before more negative thoughts enter your mind, let us share with you the explanation given by the experts regarding those dirty-looking tires.

Your new tires look dirty because of the antiozonant residue on their surfaces. This is used by manufacturers to protect the tires from harmful ozone and UV rays. When exposed to the air, the antiozonant turns to a brown color that makes your tires look old. But by cleaning them properly and using tire protectants or tire shine, you can make them all black and glossy again.

Continue reading because we'll talk more about why your new tires look old. We'll also share with you how to clean your tires properly, how to make them black and shiny or just black if you don't want the glossy look. Let's also talk about whether those tire shine products do work and how they'll benefit your tires.

Car tires on the asphalt on a black background, Why Do My New Tires Look Dirty? [And What To Do About It]

Why Do My New Tires Look Old?

Take a look at the tires pictured above. The photo shows us tires that are all black and shiny. This is what we usually see on the ads, right?

 But wait, this second photo below shows us tires that seem to have dirt on them. And guess what? Both pictures show us brand new tires. It may very well be a case of expectation vs reality.

Close up on a pile of four new car tires on black background

There's an explanation behind this. Your new tires may look dirty and old because of the antiozonant used by manufacturers to give them added protection from different elements.

Antiozonant is a natural and organic compound that's usually added to rubber to prevent cracking caused by harmful ozone and UV rays.

In other words, manufacturers normally use antiozonant on their tires to make them last longer. This process is called tire blooming.

However, the antiozonant can eventually make its way to the sidewalls of your tires, and as it comes into contact with oxygen in the air, the color of its residue turns brown. This is due to oxidation which explains why your new tires look old and dirty.

Tire blooming may not look appealing, but it does wonders to your tires. It gives them defense from ozone cracking. They won't dry up and rupture when exposed to harsh elements which means they'll last longer.

How Do You Properly Clean Tires?

If the dirty look of your tires bothers you, you can clean them to make them look better. Here's how to do it properly.

Car wheel in auto repair shop, How To Store Tires On Rims - 4 Steps To Follow

Materials And Tools Needed

  • A mild and non-abrasive cleaning agent—a degreaser or dish soap will do, or you can make your own solution made of 70% white vinegar and 30% baking soda. 
  • A bucket with warm water
  • A soft or medium-bristled brush
  • A foam pad
  • A waxing mitt
  • A hose and spray nozzle or a light-duty pressure washer if you have one
  • Clean towels (one for cleaning and another one for drying)


  1. Start by giving your tires a good rinse. Make sure you cover all sides and remove the grime along the exterior and interior of the rim.
  2. Mix some of your chosen cleaning agents with warm water. The recommended amount is 1 tbsp per 1 gallon of water.
  3. Scrub your tires and wash them thoroughly. If some of the dirt seems stuck, add more of your soap mixture on the surface and let it sit for some time. This will soften the grime and make it easier for you to remove it. Wipe with a clean towel after washing.
  4. After cleaning the tires, move on to the wheels. Repeat the process, but use a foam pad on the surface of the wheel instead of a bristled brush to avoid scratching the surface. Use a clean towel to dry it afterward.
  5. If you want, you can apply some wax on your tires to make them look shiny. Just follow the instructions indicated on the wax container. Use a waxing mitt for the application. Then polish everything using a clean microfiber towel for optimum results.

That's it! Simple and easy, right? Do this at least once a month to remove dirt on your tires, keep them in tip-top shape, and make them look great all the time.

How Can I Make My Tires Look Black But Not Shiny?

If you are not a fan of the shiny finish, you can make your tires look black by giving them a good cleaning. It's recommended that you use 50% cider vinegar and 50% water for your cleaning solution.

You can spray it on your tires then let it sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing and drying it with a clean towel.  

The vinegar-water solution is natural, so there are no harmful ingredients that might adversely affect the surface of your tires.

Store-bought cleaning solutions may contain harmful substances or additives that can harm you or your tires. But going with mild liquid dish soap ensures you won't go wrong. 

Follow the proper way of cleaning your tires mentioned earlier. Rinse thoroughly and make sure that there are no residues left on the surfaces. Allow them to dry completely, and you'll have clean black tires all the way! 

How Do I Keep My Tires Shiny?

Three tires against black background

If the brown residue of the antiozonant bothers you, there are ways for you to make your tires all black and shiny. Here's what you can do:

  1. Clean the tires using mild car soap and a soft brush. Be careful about using soaps with harsh ingredients, as they can worsen the browning on your tires.
  2. When your tires are all clean, apply a tire protectant. It is also known as tire dressing, tire shine, or tire conditioner that's either water-based or solvent-based. The latter uses a substance called hydrocarbon silicone as a carrier of its active ingredients while the former just uses water.

Water-based protectants are considered more environment-friendly and won't cause any harm to the rubber over time.

Some even contain anti-UVR properties to protect your tires from harsh elements. Solvent-based tire dressings use silicone that's responsible for giving your tires that shiny look.

However, solvent-based protectants can make tires more prone to drying and cracking, especially those that contain petroleum distillate in their ingredients, so check the product information carefully before buying.

Tire protectants or dressing can come in bottle sprays or aerosols. You can spray or wipe it on your tire to enhance its protection against the elements.

They can revitalize or moisturize the rubber used on your tires, giving them a wet look and shiny finish which makes your tires look brand new.

But more than that, they will prevent color fading, cracking, and tire hardening. This means your tires will last longer, and that gives you more value for the money that you spent on your new tires.

Click here to see this water-based tire protectant on Amazon.

How Long Does Tire Shine Last?

There are various tire protectants or tire shine products available in the market. Each one has a different claim on how long their luster will last. Some say that they'll make your tires glossy for a week while some promise long-lasting shine.

This is where it is especially useful to read customer reviews for their personal experiences regarding the product. You might as well do your research so you'll get the best value for your money while giving the best protection to your tires.

Does Tire Shine Protect Tires?

Tire experts vouch for the usefulness of tire shine. They believe that it adds an additional layer of protection to our tires to help in maintaining the rubber quality. Since our tires are always subjected to abuse on the road, they need all the protection that they can get.

Tire shine doesn't only make your tires look cleaner and glossier, it also helps keep off dirt and other debris from accumulating on the surface. Some even come with anti-UVR properties that protect tires from harsh elements.

In the end, these products help prolong the service of your tires by ensuring they are in the best condition all the time. 

Does Tire Shine Prevent Dry Rot?

Dry rotting or cracking of the rubber in your tires is caused by constant exposure to harsh UV rays. The rubber components start breaking down, the oils evaporate, and the sidewalls begin to harden and lose their flexibility, which leads to cracking. 

Tire shine helps prevent dry rot by moisturizing the sidewalls. Choose one that offers UV protection to shield your tire from ultraviolet rays and ozone that are the real culprits in the breakdown of rubber.

Click here to see this UV protectant tire shine spray on Amazon.

To Wrap Up

Don't be too bothered when your new tires look brown and old. This is caused by the antiozonant used by manufacturers to protect your tires and make them last longer.

Just clean them properly using the right cleaning solution and some tire shine products to bring out their rich black and shiny appearance.

For more articles on proper tire care, take a look at these posts:

How To Store Tires On Rims – 4 Steps To Follow

Do Tires Degrade Over Time? Even When Not Used?

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