Harmful Car Care Products

Hi Topspeed,
Is it true that tire shine products are harmful for tires and other surfaces due to their silicone or petroleum contents? What can safely be used to shine tires and dashboards?

Colonel Von Ryan from Yonkers, New York

Hello Colonel,

It is a common misconception that silicones and petroleum contents found in car care products are harmful to tires, dashboards, paint, etc... The petroleum contents you are referring to are known as petroleum distillates and they come from the distillation of petroleum crude oil. Thousands of products you are familiar with such as baby oil, Vaseline, and ChapStick are actually petroleum distillates. Tire shine products from established companies such as STP, 3M, and Meguiar's are no more harmful to your tires than ChapStick is to your lips. These companies use a multiple distillation process which removes impurities and toxins. Their final products are safe for human handling and use on your car. While there do exist some petroleum distillates that can be very harmful such as gasoline and paint thinner, one simply cannot label all petroleum distillates as either good or bad.

Silicones are used in car care products for many reasons. They make car care products easier to apply, and the lubrication properties of silicone help to reduce swirl marks and scratches when you shine your dashboard or buff your paint. They also improve the spreading and coverage of wax products. Silicones are used to modify or enhance car care products and are not used for any characteristic they offer in and of themselves. Silicone is basically an additive that improves the end product. Sort of like adding milk to your scrambled eggs to make them fluffier. Nearly all modern silicones are water soluble and completely inert. This means they are safe as well.

With regard to which products you should use, I personally recommend using Armor All products to shine tires and dashboards. They do an excellent job of protecting tires and dashboards from the damaging rays of the sun and also leave a nice shine. It is the sun's UV rays that cause tires to crack and dashboards to fade. Armor All offers various car care products that superbly protect a car's interior and exterior. You may choose to use another brand but make sure it is from a reputable company. Some lesser known companies use inexpensive ingredients in their car care formulas which may be harmful to your car's surfaces.

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