white letter tire restoration

Hack: Rejuvenating white tire letters

I’ve had these BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires on for more than 30,000 miles now. They have been really great for all their intents and purposes. The traction in all conditions is great, they are wearing evenly, and at that mileage there is still a lot of life left in them. One thing that has annoyed me was the white letters turning dark.

No matter how many times I’d wash the car and use tire cleaning sprays, they would just stay dark. I friend recently suggested a home remedy for brining those white letters back to life. While skeptical at first, I tried it. And to my surprise – it has worked brilliantly!

sos brillo tires white tires

My friend’s suggestion was to use Brillo pads, or S.O.S. pads that most of us have in our kitchens. After washing the car, I took the pad, wet it slightly, and went over the tire letters. Instantly, a layer of dark dirt came off the letters revealing a bright white shine, almost as if someone just painted them.

It took about two minutes to go over all the letters on each tire. I was rushing it, too. With a little more time and patience, the result could have been a lot better. Once you’ve gone over all the letters, rinse off the blue cleaning solution that came out of the pod with water.

After four days, the white letters still remained white. Perhaps they’re not like new but they are certainly better than they were. Most importantly, this was done quickly and did not require a trip to the store or ordering or a “tire whitening kit” of some kind. It’s a quick and easy hack that gives great results.

Project 4Runner: Four seasons with BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2

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11 responses to “Hack: Rejuvenating white tire letters”

  1. ptschett Avatar

    I was going to guess a brass-bristle brush was used (since that’s what I was taught to clean whitewalls with), but steel wool makes sense too.

    1. Rudy™ Avatar

      When I used SOS pads, they were embedded with some sort of cleanser. Whether or not that cleanser had any whitening properties was unknown, but it at least kept the steel wool from “grabbing” on the rubber.

  2. mdharrell Avatar

    I thought using S.O.S Pads on whitewalls was common knowledge. I am old.


    1. Zentropy Avatar

      Yeah, I must be old, too. I always used SOS pads on my white letter tires as a teen.

    2. Rudy™ Avatar

      Heh, yeah, same here. As a kid, I’d get one from the kitchen and clean the whitewalls. As the writer said, it wasn’t completely perfect, but mostly-just-about-white was a better color than dirt brown. (Brownwalls?)

  3. I_Borgward Avatar

    S.O.S. pads work well, but I go even more downmarket: dish detergent on steel wool. Works like a charm.

    My Volvo 240 sedan is sporting whitewalls. I recall being slightly taken aback at how far into the catalog my tire guy had to dig to find them.

    “No one makes 14″ whitewalls? What country did I wake up in this morning?”

    The unmistakable protestation of a geezer, my friends. I had arrived.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      I got some 215/75/15 whitewalls about a year ago. The set of 4 was in stock. No need to special order.

    2. Scoutdude Avatar

      Never tried dish detergent, I always used Comet with steel wool.

  4. Batshitbox Avatar

    Once while cleaning the chain on my Schwinn Typhoon I splattered the “Park Bio Chainbrite” cleaner on my square tread whitewalls and discovered it was a remarkable cleanser for whitewalls.

    Pro Tip: Have the tires mounted with the while letters facing the inside and never look at them again.

  5. Scoutdude Avatar

    I haven’t had white letters out or white walls in ~2 decades, but the go to specialty product was Westley’s Bleche Wite, A product is still sold by that name but apparently it is not the old formula. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-3pTVbgE-g (which of course is likely due to environmental concerns/laws). But what I used mostly was Comet and steel wool, or later on a Scotch Brite.

  6. salguod Avatar

    I had white walls on my Camaro in high school, white letters on my Monza in college and white walls on my wife’s Nova when we were first married in 1993 and I think I used an SOS pad or at least a strong bristle brush on all.

    No white on any tires since, until recently. Both the Ranger and the Tundra have white letters and both are rather dingy. But so are both trucks, so…