- How To Clean Off-Road Tires -
Words :Michael Wortel
Keeping your tires clean is essential for both racing and bashing. Dirty treads limit the contact patch, drastically affecting traction, and while wheel spin is good for a kick, it slows down the vehicle. Keeping your tires clean is a great way to be faster, and it is practically free. Although it may sound simple, properly cleaning tires is a process. Over the years, enthusiasts have devised some great methods and tips for cleaning off-road tires, and here are some of the best.
1 AVOID IMMERSING THE TIRES IN WATER
The biggest mistake users make while cleaning tires is immersing them completely in water. Although this does a good job cleaning them, it also allows water to enter under the tires, trapping it between the wheels. This adds weight, throws off wheel balance, and ultimately deteriorates the inserts, wheels, and tires.
2 VENT THE TIRES, NOT THE WHEELS
When the tires are glued to the wheels, air often becomes trapped. There are a number of benefits to creating vent holes, which allow air to escape. It is always best to vent the tires themselves, as opposed to the wheel. If water becomes trapped, centrifugal force will expel the water when the wheels rotate. This will not occur if the vent holes are on the wheels, so given the choice, it is better to vent the tires than the wheels themselves.
3 CLEAN THE TIRES SOONER THAN LATER
The longer dirt and debris sit on the tires, the harder they will be to clean. With that in mind, cleaning your tires after every run—or as soon as possible—is the best bet. Also, leaving caked-on clay and mud can actually dry out and deteriorate the tires themselves over time.
4 USE A WIRE BRUSH
Before busting out the water and cleaning solution, gently scrape off the tires with a soft wire brush to expel large particles and debris. Try to avoid scraping sideways against the treads—rather, follow the circumference of the wire. This aids in preventing damage to soft tires.
5 WARM WATER AND A NYLON BRUSH
Use a shallow plastic container and fill it with about one inch of warm water. Roll the tires over the surface of the water, allowing the water to penetrate the dirt, and then use a nylon—or similar plastic bristle brush—to brush away the dirt. Since the nylon brush is not too abrasive, it may be used in a side-to-side motion this time around.
6 CREATE A SIMPLE GREEN WASH SOLUTION
With most of the surface debris out of the way, add some new water and about 25% Simple Green cleaning solution and then repeat washing the tires with the nylon brush. Simple Green is non-toxic, cleans very well, and will not dry out the tire compound over time. Also, it also softens the tire compound, adding more traction and tire elasticity.
7 DRY THE TIRES WITH A SOFT TOWEL
After the tires are clean, thoroughly dry them with a soft cloth. Wipe the surfaces first, and then wrap the tires in the towel and squeeze them. This will help to extract any water that soaked into the tire inserts. Then allow the tires to air dry for as long as possible.
8 ADD TRACTION COMPOUND
It isn’t always necessary, but adding some traction compound to the tires is a good idea. The compound softens the rubber and helps to preserve it over time. There are numerous traction compounds on the market, most of which are great. Stay away from “doit-yourself” compounds like lighter fluid, as they only tend to dry tires over time. Once the compound is applied, wipe off any residual fluid with a soft towel.
9 STORE TIRES IN A ZIP-LOCK BAG
Unless you are hitting the dirt immediately, it is good to store clean tires in an air-tight bag. This prevents the tires from drying out in storage and also prevents dust and dirt from accumulating on them in transport. Finally, it helps to keep your tires together in your pit bag.
Although RC is expensive, some of the best ways to be fast are free—or cost very little. Keeping your tires clean is very important for maintaining traction and extending the life of the tires themselves. Cleaning your tires should be a part of your regular RC maintenance. Many hobbyists spend money on expensive tires, but that is quickly negated if the treads are not cleaned regularly. Treat your tires with care. Never use harsh chemicals or scrub too hard, and clean them often.
MAKE A WASH STATION
Most racers eventually construct a wash reservoir with a fixed nylon brush at the bottom. This wash station is very useful and provides a one-stop shop for cleaning tires. First, choose a transparent, rectangular plastic container—about the size of a shoe box. Next, select a shallow nylon hand brush without a handle. Use silicon or epoxy to adhere the back of the brush to the bottom of the container. Once the adhesive dries, you are left with a perfect tire wash station. Once water and a cleaning solution are added, you can rotate the tires over the brush, while contacting the wash solution, making tire washing tasks easy and concise.