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Cleaning yellow white wall times


oakland

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I have a 29 Oakland with whitewall  tires i purchased last year from Coker Tire. The 4 tires on the car turned a yellowish color.  The spare on the rear remained white.  I tried cleaning the tires with Wesley's Bleach white and also comet cleanser, but they still look yellow.  Does anyone know a way to clean them and also why they turned yellow, but the spare did not.  I have the Oakland on the top of a car lift so it is off the ground.  Thanks.

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I have reasonably good results with Simple Green and an SOS pad. Eventually they'll turn yellow again, but this seems to hold for a few days to a few weeks, depending on how much I drive. They usually turn yellow due to UV damage, heat, or, as in this particular manufacturer's tires' case, oils from the black rubber leeching through to the surface of the whitewall. I'm guessing that your tires are having the same problems mine are since they're from the same manufacturer, and cleaning them is a temporary situation at best--they WILL discolor again no matter what you do. The manufacturer knows of the problem and chooses not to do anything about it. They replaced my first set after they turned brown and the second set is even worse. I chewed up my Cadillac's rims dismounting/mounting/dismounting/mounting a bunch of tires, so I'm keeping them and when they wear out, I guess I'll go with blackwalls. I recommend that you keep what you have, knowing that the company won't do anything to help you, and try the Simple Green/SOS pad combination and see what happens. Good luck!

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Back in the day in Dad's recap shop one of my jobs was sanding whitewalls with a sanding drum on a flexible shaft sander. The heat from recapping would turn them yellow. A bit of time with 180 or so grit paper would turn them white again but they always had a slightly fuzzy texture after sanding.

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I had the sad issue with a set of Coker tires on 32 DeSoto I restored for a customer a few years ago, he complained to Coker enough that they gave him a new set, which I believe he said are not quite as quick to turn yellow. Frustrating, so it's black walls for me from now on.

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As Matt I use simple green but instead of an SOS pad I use a Mr Clean Magic eraser.

 

 

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Chris,

Same issue with the tires I purchased from a different vendor. Took three times to get them right. But as you stated they still yellow but not as bad as the other sets. :(

 

 

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Thanks for all the info on my whitewall tires.  I purchased these tires a year ago and never drove on them. Put the car on the top of a car lift.  I don't understand why the spare tire mounted on back of my Oakland stayed white while he four on the wheels turned yellow..  I will try what was recommended.      I suppose I should of inquired about Coker before I bought the tires.  Way over a  $1000 for these tires.

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The yellowing problem sounds like something particular to the brand of tire or the materials used in its construction. I have 2 cars with whites, Goodyear Super Cushion radials on the 56 Packard Caribbean and Lesters on the 34. Its a rare event that I have to clean the whitewalls to brighten them, usually just soap and water keeps them brilliant white. The Lesters are over 25 years old, the GoodYears about 8 years.

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Thanks for all the info on my whitewall tires.  I purchased these tires a year ago and never drove on them. Put the car on the top of a car lift.  I don't understand why the spare tire mounted on back of my Oakland stayed white while he four on the wheels turned yellow..  I will try what was recommended.      I suppose I should of inquired about Coker before I bought the tires.  Way over a  $1000 for these tires.

 

I'm puzzled as to why the spare hasn't changed color. My sidemounts changed just like all the others, it didn't seem related to driving or use--they were all uniformly brown. Did you change all 5 at the same time? Maybe you got one good one in the batch?

 

$1000 for tires? I WISH! The ones on my Cadillac were $420 EACH, I needed six of them, plus six tubes, plus six flaps, plus mounting and balancing (12 of those since I had to do it twice). I think I have more than $3000 worth of tires on my car, and they still turn brown every two weeks...

 

Owen, I now regret removing the old Lesters that were on my car when I got it. I figured that they were pretty old and unsafe (and noisy), so I ditched them. Sadly, Lester is now owned by the same big tire manufacturer and I bet the "new" Lesters will have the same issues as all their other vintage whitewalls. There's a fundamental flaw in the manufacturing process that's not related to the molds. I suspect they're either skimping on the liner that separates the black rubber and the white rubber, or else their process doesn't firmly anchor it in place and it moves during the casting process, allowing the oils to seep through. My tires seem to turn brown at the outer edges first, then work towards the center and I have noted the same thing happening on other cars, regardless of what "brand" is on the sidewall. Mine are Firestones, but I've seen BFGoodrich and Goodyear wide whites (all made by this same manufacturer) doing the exact same thing.

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It has to have something to do with air getting to the tire. I bought 5 a couple of years ago for my '30 Buick.  The ones on the car are very brown.  The spare still in the plastic bag, is still brillant white.

Is it kept in the dark or can it see UV light?

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Good point. It is inside my workshop. It gets sunlight every day, but only through the windows.  If I remember correctly, glass filters out most of the UV light. On the other hand, the Buick has spent all but maybe 5 or 6 hours in the garage without direct expose to UV light. All of the tires are the same color. That is, the one's next to the garage door are not darker than the ones in the back.

 

Another thing to consider is that I have never washed the blue stuff off the whitewall in storage.  Could it be acting as some sort of sealer?

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Sorry, glass does not filter out UV. Put a newspaper on the floor in the sun inside your house and see how long it takes to go yellow. And note how long (short) cotton furnishing fabrics last in the sun.

 

You might find the blue stuff (perhaps some sort of rubber grease?) is keeping the white wall oiled and prevents the migration of the oil in the black tyre from migrating into it. "Rubber" (there's not so much in today's tyres) perishes and hardens by evaporation of its natural oils. UV (and heat) breaks down the oils too.

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Sorry, glass does not filter out UV.

Most types of glass are actually rather good UV filters. If my memory (age degraded) serves us here , ordinary soda-lime glass (plate glass) rejects over 95% , (or is it 99%+ ?) , of the UV. Photographic "UV filters" use such glass as the active substrate. The bluish cast you see is merely the magnesium fluoride anti-reflection coating which has been vacuum deposited. This opacity is also shared by another common glass , borosilicate , which is Pyrex. Instrumentation , commercial , industrial ,medical , etc. applications which must utilize transmissive optics in the UV range , must employ exotic , expensive fused silica (Quartz). This explains why you don't get a sunburn sitting in your house or car exposed to some degree to direct sunlight through the window. Ummmmm , FYI , I have been fooling around with optics since my youth around 60 years ago , so the above info is not conjecture.

I strongly advise all of us , dear cyber friends : take advantage of what comfortable sunlight remains for us in the Northern hemisphere . Vitamin D. Fresh air. Protect your skin and your cars from prolonged exposure to the Sun , though. - Carl

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Matt has the best advice, I use the same products he does. The discoloration of the whilewalls is nothing new, 35 - 40 years ago a friend put a set of whitewalls on his 1929 Franklin town sedan and refered to them as Lester tires offerening " brown and blackwalls ". Everyone has an opinion as to what works for them so far as the choice for black or white wall. Look at period phtographs and decide, easier then buying a set of ties for mega $ and then decideing you should have gone with the other choice. I like whitewalls - on some cars, depends upon the fender style . Not everything should have whitewalls nor should everything have blackwalls.

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To clean white walls, my favorite product is Wesley's Bleche Wite.  Spray it on and use a pressure washer carefully and the white walls are a bright white.

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I have hesitated to chime in here and risk my luck running out. I have a set of Wide White Wall Firestone reproduction bias ply tires that are a few years old on my 1937 Buick Century. I have never had any trouble with the white walls discoloring. When I wash the car, I simply spray on Bleche-White and then do a light scrub of the tires. 

 

I also had a newer set of these same tires on my 1954 Century (which I have sold) and did the same thing with that car. I never had any discoloration on those tires either in the year or two that I owned that car. 

 

I have not done anything special to take care of any of these other than storage in a climate controlled garage. I don't have any idea why others seem to be having a major problem with these tires which I have not experienced.

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Thank you C Carl for the lesson on glass absorption of UV. I am corrected.

 

However, I note Wikipedia says ordinary window glass passes 90% of UV longer than 350 nm wavelength (UVA is 320 to 400 nm) and absorbs > 90% below 300 nm wavelength (i.e. UVB, UBC, near, middle and far UV and vacuum UV). So about 70% UVA passes ordinary window glass. UVA and UVB damage skin.

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This is a reply to Matt Harwood. Yes, I did purchase and change all 5 tires at the same time.  I never drove on the tires.  I mounted the tires and put the car on my car lift until just recently.  I said I spend over $1000 for the tires.  ActuallyI I paid $250 each plus the price for tubes and shipping.   I finally tried lacquer cleaner on the tires as suggested by a reply and the tires did come white.   Don't know how long they will stay that way.    

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Some time ago I found a product called P21S - it's a German product available from places like Autogeek.net.  I have found it to be good at cleaning up slightly yellowed tires - better IMHO than Blech White.  I use it straight from the bottle with the rough (green) side of a household sponge.  I have used it on the Lesters on my 39 Buick and the Bedford Famous Cords on my 31 Lincoln, some of which are pretty old.  The product is supposed to be an all-purpose cleaner but I found other products that work better for washing etc.  But it does work on tires. Maybe it's worth a try.

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  • 3 years later...

While I am a retired engineer now, I am reminded of a group of Packard Engineers whose car club from the early 1970's, firmly believed the yellowing was from oxidation of the rubber surface. In retrospect I  believe this was reasonably correct as those cars were in storage most of the time and never saw a rainy or snowy day, let alone a dirty road (meaning dirt road)! The surefire method I witnessed for removing it was the use of 400 wet sandpaper; used with generous amounts of water to prevent heat burns.  I personally liked to start with 200 wet sandpaper and finish with 400 to keep a smooth surface.  The use of a pure silicone (or other non yellowing "rubber safe") dressing is very helpful, particularly  when in storage, to keep oxygen from interacting with the rubber. Don't laugh, but the use of "Cling Wrap" for food storage suggest long ago by my mother tightly fitted to the white wall surface, while the tires are in storage, showed significantly less yellowing then tires left unprotected. Hope this helps.  

 

Tom

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