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From bmw-digest.v4.n399 Mon Apr 8 08:32:13 1996
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 1996 00:50:22 -0400
Subject: Silicone based products

The problems associated with silicone based products may be broken down into the two catagories of usage, tires and vinyl: I have so many requests for this information, that I am posting to the entire list.

  1. Tires/Rubber Trim: There are two main degrading agents that attack tires. They are UV light waves and ozone. Both of these attack the long hydrocarbon chains of the rubber and by breaking these chemical bonds, shorten the molecules with resulting loss of elasticity and other problems. Tire manufacturers add two primary sacrificial protectants to the rubber. To protect against UV, they add carbon black. This is why tires don't come in designer colors to match your paint. The carbon black will turn white/gray as it absorbs the UV and dissipates the energy as heat. Thus the basis of rubber parts turning gray as they age. To protect against ozone, tire manufacturers add a wax based sacrificial protectant. The ozone attacks the wax and depletes it. As the tire rolls, additional wax is forced to the surface of the tire. This is referred to as "blooming". This blooming refreshes the surface wax protectant. A tire that has not been flexed will have the wax depleted by the ozone and thus begin to degrade and suffer "dry rot". The silicone oil in Armour All et Al may actually dissolve the wax and be the cause of premature tire side wall cracking/failure. It is rumored that some tire manufacturers will not honor warranties on failures caused by silicone based products. I am in the process of checking with the major tire manufacturers to determine the validity of this rumor. In conclusion, any tire dressing should contain a UV protectant to bolster the efforts of the carbon black and preferably not contain any silicone.

Plastics/Vinyls: The dash, door panels, seat backs, and numerous other interior/exterior trim pieces are usually vinyl. Vinyl may be viewed as raw semi-liquid vinyls that are held in place by a solid vinyl "skin" (this description is for illustration only and not a PhD chemical dissertation ). The dash and other vinyl parts of your BMW are constantly bombarded by UV that breaks down the molecules of the skin, allowing the raw vinyls to escape (off-gassing). These vinyls then may deposit themselves on the glass, forming a haze that is difficult to remove. If you have such a haze, it is probably your dash that has decided to pick up stakes and migrate(back to Germany?). Silicone based products do not usually contain UV protectants, and the silicone may act as a magnifying glass, intensifying the UV degradation. Silicone oil may also dissolve the essential oils in the vinyl skin, hastening the premature formation of cracks in the vinyl skin. A quality vinyl protectant will contain a UV protectant and essential oils to replace lost oils from the vinyl. These protectants are expensive, so the K-Mart specials may do more harm than good. Silicone also has very strong electrostatic attraction which may be considered beneficial in that it will tend to stay where it is placed, but will also attract every dust particle in the surrounding three counties.

This list is my personal favorites. I am constantly testing new products and retesting old ones to compare their performance. We have a committee of 10+ people including national restoration and concours experts involved in these testing programs. Of these favorites, there are some that I personally like better than others. I have customers who will argue against my choices and defend their choice with equal vigor. When I am conducting work shops, I take a tire or two and divide them into sections and use all of the following products so people and see them side by side. Each person likes a different look, so each chooses a different product.

Tire/Rubber(spoilers, trim, bumpers, etc.) Care:

  1. My favorite is Black Again with a top coat of Meguiar #42.
  2. Black Again - is a white creamy polymer formulation the gives rubber a jet black color and a soft patena. My only problem with BA is that it doesn't last as long a I think it should. That is why I use the Meguiar #42 on top. This combo seems to really last. BA will also remove the white wax residue that you slopped on the rubber trim.
  3. Meguiar #42 - is thick emulsion specifically formulated for black trim areas and tires. Will maintain the black patena without greasy shine. Does not restore color quite as well a Black Again.
  4. Harly Tire Nu - many of the old time concour people use harlys. They love it. It maintains rubber for long periods of time and does not turn brown.
  5. Meguiar #40 - This is supposed to be for rubber and vinyl - I feel that it works a lot better on vinyl.
  6. Tony Nancy Vinyl/Rubber Care - This is a great product. Tony Nancy is a World class restorationist (Pebble Beach Class) and judge. This is his own brew. Does a great job on rubber. I only use it on the exterior as the smell will kill you.
  7. One Grand Exterior Rubber - This is similar to the Harly product. Lots of people swear by it.

8.Zymol Vinyl - Better for vinyl than rubber. I think it is too much $, but many people love it. Be aware that Zymol has hooked up with Turtle Wax Co. to produce a new line of K-Mart crowd products with the Zymol name. I call them Zurtle Waxes. They are crap. They come in black or blue containers. I think it is Turtle Wax with pina colada mix thrown in. I got pre-release samples and tested them, hoping for a decent product at a reasonable price. Wrong!

9. Tire-Nu - This used to be a GREAT product. The original formula was made in Japan. They now make it in California for the K-Mart crowd and it stinks. They changed the formula to make it CHEAP. I bought up every case in the country when they discontinued importing it. I now own 2 cans for my personal use.

10. Formula 303 - A good product. It leaves a slicker finish than I care for, but some people love it.

11. Sonax or Wurth Rubber Care Spray - These are better suited for the rubber gaskets around doors, windows, etc. They rejeuvinate the rubber and help maintain the seal. Should be used twice a year.

12. Sonax PVC Maintenance Spray - A good product that is better for the hard rubber of spoilers and whaletails. Leaves a little more shine to the surface than I care for, but many people swear by it. Lasts a long time.

Interior Vinyl:

  1. My personal favorite is Lexol Vinyex Spray. This in my humble opinion has it all. A very strong UV protectant, essential oils, anti-static (helps keep dust off) and a soft patena finish.
  2. Harly Polyguard - This used to be my favorite, till I lost my heart to Vinylex. Leaves a touch more shine to the finish than Vinylex.
  3. Somethin' Else - This is the sister to Black Again. Has all the right ingredients and people who love it are died in the wool. I prefer the Vinylex, but that only a subjective opinion. It leaves a "new car" smell.
  4. Harly Interior Magic - An old standby that leaves a lemon scent. Some people love it. I don't think a car should smell like lemons, but that's my opinion and I could be wrong.
  5. Zymol Vinyl - Another tropical oil product. Leaves a pina colada smell. Die hards will defend this product to the death. I just think it is to Much $. See warning in tire section.
  6. Meguiar #40 - A great product that cleans and protects. Does not leave a slippery finish.
  7. Meguiar #39 - A very strong cleaner. This should be used carefully and very infrequently. It will clean just about anything out of vinyl. Must be followed by #40. A great cleaner for plastic Targa tops.
  8. Tony Nancy - I don't recommend use on the inside. The smell is a bit much for me. Some people do and swear by it.
  9. Sonax Cockpit Spray - This is a German product that is designed for German vinyl. Does a great job, but leaves a little more shine to the surface than I care for. There are a gagle of users who love it.
  10. Wurth Cockpit Spray - ditto above. Wurth people don't like Sonax and vice versa.
  11. Formula 303 - This leaves an Armour All type of high gloss shine to the vinyl. I personally don't like this type of finish. Some people do, so feel comfortable using it as it is a very good product.

I hope that the above has shed some light on the subject rubber and vinyl care. If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to call or write. If you can't find the products locally, please give me a shout.

Larry Reynolds
Car Care Specialties, Inc.
Distributors of Quality Car Care Products Post Office Box 535
Saddle Brook, NJ 07663
Phone (201) 796-8300
Fax (201) 791-9743
Old enough to remember when sex was safe and race cars were dangerous Member BMW CCA

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