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RV Tire Safety: “Tire dressing” and “Do not use covers.” Where’s the test data?!

with RV tire expert Roger Marble

I’ve been following a long thread on an RV Forum on the topic of “tire dressing” aka tire treatment or “tire shine.”

The good news is that most posters knew to not use any product that contains petroleum distillate. Too bad some RV dealers don’t follow the guidelines on this. I have seen a number of display coaches almost dripping with some slippery fluid. Might be brake fluid or even motor oil, as the tires were shiny and I could scrape the coating off, leaving a “slimy” substance on my finger.

I saw a number of different products mentioned and many suggestions that a product called 303® was a good UV protectant. I saw no one provide any actual direct comparison test data for any product that would support the claim of protection against UV damage to tires.

With a little work getting through the maze of retailers selling “303,” I finally made contact with their customer service. I asked, “Can you provide any test data on 303 vs. other tire protection products. Also info on if 303 application removes any of the wax or oil or anti-ozone chemicals built into tires.” The answer was that they would ask their chemists.

This seems strange that a company making claims on the performance of their product would not have comparison data available that would back up and support the claim. Please note, I am not saying that 303 does not offer some “protection” against UV damage to tires. I am concerned that the actual application as seen on YouTube may be removing the special waxes and anti-ozonant chemicals tire companies put in our tires.

If I receive actual test data that compares 303 against other products that make similar claims I will post on this blog.

What was most concerning were a couple pf posts where the writers claimed:

I got tired of reading all the opinions on tire dressing so went to the source, Michelin. They stated that washing tires with mild soap is the only thing they support on their tires, no dressing, no covers, no nothing. You don’t see shiny tires at a truck stop and these are the people who put on the miles.”

Another said: “Goodyear RV tire guide says just keep them clean, no dressings, no covers, zip. You can use the same stuff you wash your RV with, perhaps use a medium brush on stubborn spots.

I responded: “Interesting comment on ‘no covers.’ Wonder what Goodyear RV guide you are looking at?”

I found in THIS Goodyear RV Tire Guide and under storage is the advice to store tires “in sunless area” and “Don’t store tires where they are subjected to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures.”

Based on the above, how does telling us to not use tire covers make sense?

I have confirmed with actual test data that covering tires can reduce the tire temperature by about 40° F, which could extend tire life by many months, depending on how long you protect them from artificial heat aging.

I checked and found just the opposite on the shielding from the sun. In fact, I even contacted an Engineer at Michelin and he said, “Our position regarding tire dressing and protection has not changed. It is still recommended that tires are cleaned with a mild detergent and water, and they are protected from direct sunlight when the vehicle is parked for extended periods of time. This is usually accomplished with the use of some type of cover.

So I don’t know where the “no cover” info from either Goodyear or Michelin comes from, and if you read my blog you know that this tire design engineer is a strong proponent of using white vinyl on Class B and C tires, and the flat mesh of any color on Class A.

I have nothing against 303®. But I am wondering why, for the price, they don’t have any actual direct comparison performance data on UV protection.

P.S. If you don’t want to protect your tires from the heat aging due to sun exposure please don’t ask me to explain why you don’t get longer life from your tires. Also next time you run into someone selling any brand of “tire dressing,” ask to see the test data and see what happens. (If you get test data, please send a copy to me.)

 

Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.

 ##RVT947

 

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Roger Marble
1 year ago

The intent of the posts on my blog http://www.RVTireSafety.net and the seminars I give at RV Events and the answers to questions on numerous RV Forums has always been to provide the best information I can, to decrease the frequency and severity of tire failures and to hopefully extend the useful life of tires in RV use. There is no single action that can prevent failure and other than external damage or loss of air. Tires do not repair themselves and damage does not fix itself as damage starts at the molecular level and just grows. It may grow slowly or rapidly but grow it will. The best I can do is offer advice that if followed will hopefully reduce the frequency of failure and extend the life of the tires you buy.

Roger Marble
1 year ago

Clearly, the topic of tire covers and tire dressing is not going to go away. Since I am retired, I do not have access to a full organic chemistry laboratory or direct interaction with dozens of rubber chemists to conduct some off-the-record testing. Short answer: I still have not seen any data from any direct comparison test of ANY tire “Shine” or spray or wipe on product that supports the claim of longer tire life. If tire engineers from the three largest tire companies in the world say the same thing i.e. “protect your tires from direct sun exposure”, why would you decide that that advice is of no value? Tires fail (blowout or crack) for numerous reasons but in most cases the damage is cumulative and the failure is the result of cumulative damage to the rubber. The UV attacks the surface and heat from the Sun or excess deflection or too fast operation attacks the entire structure. Continued on next post

Joe
1 year ago

Roger, on today’s RV travel beginners guide to RVing issue 106 they supply a link to Thetford Premium Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner. Thetford states that the product is good for slide seals, rubber molding and among other things tires. I would be very interested in your ideas with this product.

Gary
1 year ago

303 now has a specific tire cleaner and a tire balm in addition to their vinyl and rubber protectant. This article is 1 1/2 years old.

Dan
1 year ago

I’ve never been sold on the idea of tire covers. However, I see people using them all of the time on their RV’s but never, ever on the tow vehicle or the toad. Makes me think it’s more of not really needed accessory. It’s one more thing to pack away in our limited, precious space in the RV, and I would always wonder what kinda critter is building a nest under the cover. I’ve had vehicles that never spent a single night indoors and I got by fine without tire covers. If I was using our RV in an area of severe sunshine I would consider making some that snapped onto the body like an old fashioned tonneau cover. To each his own.

Dick and Sandy near Buffalo, NY
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan

You don’t see any tire covers on the tow vehicle or toad because those vehicles are normally in use and not in a stored or parked location for long periods of time out in the open.

Diane Mc
1 year ago

True! We had custom shades made for windshield, driver/door windows and tires after we first bought our coach in 2002. Black tight mesh that attach with snaps. They still look new. Use the tires ones when home in between trips. Shades keep coach cool and protect tires. We are on our 3rd set of Michelins with 225K miles on our coach. Fortunately we have had zero tires issues.

George
1 year ago

Thanks for pointing out the shallowness of the American consumer. If they don’t demand test data, the industry is not going to provide it or even spend the money testing. Im sure it contributes to a lot of “snake oil” sales. I ordered some 303 with intention of putting it on window trim and am now wondering the same for that application. 

Robert Perry
2 years ago

Switched from doubles to individual tire covers. Sooo much easier to put on and take off. Open in the back. Moisture has never seemed to be a problem.

steve s.
2 years ago

Roger, here is the data sheet I was able to find for 303 that was updated in 2015:
https://www.trivantage.com/itemfiles/pdfs/msds/303_Aerospace_Protectant_MSDS.pdf

I found it humorous that many / most ingredients are listed as proprietary, and lower down the ‘Conditions to avoid’ section indicates ‘Close proximity to incompatible substances’,
as if we even knew what that was!

Anyway, hope this helps.

Regards,
Steve.

Billy Bob Thornton
2 years ago
Reply to  steve s.

CYA all the way!

Roger Marble
1 year ago
Reply to  steve s.

Lot of info but no DATA on direct comparison of 303 vs any other product or no product or using a vinyl cover.

Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  steve s.

Steve, This is an MSDS label that many products have to include for safety measures/first aid, etc. They won’t have any data about product performance. Thanks anyway for providing it.

Rick Sorrenti
2 years ago

Ref. Tire Dressing. The real question is will 303 do any damage to the tire! Many owners dress tires for ONLY the appearance aspect. Personal experience is I have used 303 Aerospace Protectorate for 15 years on multi million dollar aircraft and RVs and have never seen any degradation of tires. This is verified by ANNUAL FAA inspections of the aircraft.

Roger Marble
2 years ago
Reply to  Rick Sorrenti

Wondering how many commercial “multi-million dollar aircraft” run their tires for years at a time. Not saying your statement is false. I have seen no DATA GOOD or BAD of a controlled direct comparison test of “tire dressings” I do wonder why.

Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Sorrenti

Rick, Same here- I just use for appearance’ sake. Tires are always covered in storage. My opinion is- I would use 303 unless I knew there were many people out there that had poor experiences with it. So far, I hear and read the opposite in many cases. It would be nice if there was some sort of research that indicated the stuff was actually beneficial (or not) but for now, all of us happily using it for years is evidence enough.

Jim
2 years ago

Hi Roger.

A little off topic maybe but please include your input regarding age of tires. All tires have a production date on their sidewall and I don’t trust a tire that’s over 7 years old on anything I own. With age tires become hard and don’t stick to the road like they used to, regardless of tread depth. To me that’s a safety issue.

Also, it’s surprising how much tire pressures increase when the sun’s on them. Using plywood to protect tires from the sun gets my vote as vinyl traps moisture and promotes mold and corroded rims.

My 2 cents for what it’s worth.

Cheers, Jim

Roger Marble
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim

You are correct about age and rubber getting hard. The loss of traction (wet and dry) is one negative. The internal structure also loses flexibility and can crack which can lead to a belt detachment. That is the key point on my blog post on “Tire Covers – Do they do any good?” where I show the DATA on the effects of the Sun on the temperature of a tire. The Science of rubber chemestry shows that the RATE a tire ages doubles with each increase of 18F

ThreeQuarter ton
2 years ago

I worked in a tire store in the mid 60s. At that time tires were coated (SHUDDER) with a mixture of tar and gasoline! Of course tires didn’t last for long back then. I have an old dually out back, the steer tires are at least 20 years old, the rears are probably 30 years plus . I would be as comfortable using these tires as I would the tires on my car which are 10 years old, because the car tires are more weather cracked than the trucks.

Roger Marble
2 years ago

Not sure how comfortable I would be driving on public roads on any tires over 10 years old unless they were kept in a mine (54F) or similar storage ALL the time.

Larry
1 year ago

The front of my truck was damaged by an RV losing a shredded tire on the highway. I would not want to be on the same road with you and those 10, 20 and 30 year old tires. You may hurt or kill someone when one of your tires lets go.

Bob P
1 year ago
Reply to  Larry

I’d be willing to bet he’s one of those people that uses the term “hold my beer, watch this”.

Phil Atterbery
2 years ago

Thank you Roger. Most of my tire experience is in military aviation on big 4 engine aircraft. The tire OEM’s don’t allow protectant either.
When I encounter a proponent of tire dressings I don’t even argue the point. It’s his money to waste. Keep’em rollin’ Roger.

Gary Broughton
2 years ago

Used tire covers for awhile and then had wet tires and rusted rims.
Quit using them and changed tires at about 50000 miles or 7 years.
Only had 2 flats on my trailers in 45 years as I took care of tires and kept them properly inflated.

Snayte
2 years ago

It would be neat if someone could invent a window shade of sorts that you could pull done to cover your tires when you park. When you leave it would store safely up in the wheel well area

Roger Marble
2 years ago
Reply to  Snayte

The company by the name of Shade Pro makes the mesh screen that is flat and attaches to the side of Class-A with twist locks so the rolled up shade is easy to store.
https://www.shadepro.net/product/innova-tire-shades/
I measured tire temperature with this product and found it as good as white vinyl for keeping the temperature down.

Rick
2 years ago
Reply to  Snayte

MAGNA SHADE makes what you want.

Lee Ensminger
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick

It’s “MAGNE Shade.”

Gary
2 years ago

Seems like soap and water will remove more of the waxes and oils in the tire than a wipe on 303 protectant.

DAVE TELENKO
2 years ago

I can’r remember where I read the article, but putting covers over your tire helps with the heat, but not with UVA! UVA can penetrate most fabrics. I’m sure someone know for sure & will post what they know!
Snoopy

Roger Marble
2 years ago
Reply to  DAVE TELENKO

I used a small UV test device and the vinyl dropped the UV to 0. Didn’t test the mesh shade but I think the sun would have to be almost at the horizon for the UV rays to get through the mesh screen.

Billy Bob Thornton
2 years ago
Reply to  DAVE TELENKO

Then how come clothes work 🙂

Wayne
2 years ago

Is there data, or has a study been done that shows tire dressing is harmful to tires? I have used all types of Tire dressings and cleaners and have routinely exceeded warranty mileage with no visible sidewall defects.

Roger Marble
2 years ago
Reply to  Wayne

Petroleum Distillate will damage rubber so that is why tire companies say to not use products with a solvent in them.

Wayne
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

Thanks

Joseph Weinstein
2 years ago

Thanks for the information. I am guilty of using 303 for my entire trailer. It seems to be a favored coating by many of the old timers. I also use tire covers. I don’t plan on keeping my tires more than 4 – 5 years and don’t believe that coating them 4 – 6 times a year is going to have any detrimental affect. I worked in the automotive repair industry when younger, when technology wasn’t anywhere close it is today, and never had any customer complain that dressing tires resulted in any deterioration. I am sure that it does occur in labs and in some people that might overuse it, but my gut says enjoy what I am doing and just keep inspecting the tires prior to, during, and after every trip.

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago

I got tired of tire covers going to pot in short order due to the hot sun here in NV. And also, spiders loved to make their home under my covers. So I got some old plywood, cut it to size (one for each wheel), painted them white, and now lean them up against the tires when parked in the yard. Works great.

Thom
2 years ago

The other reason I use the vinyl covers is to keep dogs from peeing on my aluminum wheels! What is the deal with dogs and wheels?
My covers have plenty of pee stains…

DAVE TELENKO
2 years ago
Reply to  Thom

Yes I do understand dogs pissing on tires, its part of their heritage! On the other hand, CAT {bleeped} is really bad for aluminum rims, besides CAT {bleeped} really stinks BAD!