by Paul Williams

Last weekend I noticed a neighbour carefully detailing the new tires on his black Saab 900 Talledega, and I thought to myself, “Now, there’s someone I can relate to.”

Who’d have thought that in the 21st century we’d have enough leisure time to manicure our tires?

Actually it’s not such a new phenomenon. When tires had whitewalls, car nuts like my neighbour were doing just the same thing. Only difference was they were trying to get the tires white, rather than black (Fantastik kitchen cleanser was the cleaner of choice, or so I’m told).

For the past few years we’ve been treated to an array of foamy tire cleaners and shines, with varying results. One problem with this kind of product is that after a few applications, your tires turn brown.

Another problem is those plus-sized aerosol cans of foamy goo. They have an annoying habit of losing pressure while still half full, or spontaneously emptying their contents into your hand. Well, what do you expect for no work?

You want some nice stuff? Turtle Wax Emerald Series Tire Gel is good. This comes in a box with a sponge. Squirt some of the gel on the sponge and apply it to the tire. The result is very satisfactory, and it lasts much longer than the foams. It only takes a minute to apply to each tire.

A 475ml container is a pricey $14.99, but I’m into my second season with this gel, and the bottle’s still over half full.

Meguiar’s Endurance is a similar product. It’s also $14.99, but you only get 296ml. I can’t say it’s any better or worse than the Turtle Wax gel. Like most Meguiar’s products, it does a fine job and smells extremely nice. Come to think of it, this stuff’s so fragrant you could save on buying colognes. Just a thought.

Another Meguiar’s product is their Natural Shine Vinyl and Rubber Protectant. This is new for 2001, comes in a spray and is more versatile than the gels. With added UV protection it’s useful on dashboards and vinyl panels that are exposed to the sun, but it’s also highly effective on tires. Apply it twice and you’ll double the shine. Try using it in conjunction with the new Eagle 2000 sponge tire swipes.

Meguiar’s Natural Shine Protectant is $9.99 for 473ml, and the reusable swipes are $4.99 and $6.99.

Speaking of Eagle 2000, their Wet Look Tire Spray works well at $9.99 for the 739ml bottle. It’s water resistant and doesn’t require wiping, buffing or detailing.

If you want to put some sparkle into your life, Black Magic now offers Tire Tint, a tinted high gloss tire gel. It’s $9.99 for 295ml, comes in silver, blue and red and sparkles in the sunlight. Groovy.

But for those of you with better things to do than crawling around your car with a toothbrush or sponge applicator, how about a tire that’s designed to stay black?

Michelin recently introduced its new Durablack compound technology that allows the tire’s sidewall to stay black its entire life.

“Tires play an important role in the car’s overall appearance,” states Gordon Sadler, Michelin Brand Manager. “With Michelin’s new Durablack technology, gone are the days of dull brown tires, and there is no more need for tire polisher.”

Well, that remains to be seen. One would expect the two Michelin tires currently using Durablack, the X-One and the Cross Terrain SUV, to be competent products in the Michelin tradition. But they’re going to stay black? For years?

Blacker, maybe.

My neighbour would love them. His tires are already things of beauty. Put a set of those Michelins with Durablack on his Saab and he’d be down there buffing them to a to a mirror finish.

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