#1, How the damage is done; There are two main degrading agents that attack rubber, plastic, and vinyl—ultraviolet (UV) light and ozone. Both attack the long hydrocarbon chains of the rubber, trim, and vinyl skin by breaking these bonds, shortening the molecules with a resulting loss of elasticity and other properties.
Manufacturers add two primary sacrificial protectants to rubber. To protect against UV, manufacturers add carbon black. Therefore, tires and trim are almost always black. The carbon black will turn white or gray as it absorbs and transforms the UV energy and disperses it as heat. To protect against ozone, manufacturers add a synthetic wax-based sacrificial protectant. The ozone attacks the wax and gradually depletes it. As the tires rolls, additional wax is forced to the sidewall. This process is often referred to as ‘blooming.' A tire that is not used and flexed will have the wax depleted by ozone and thus begin to suffer dry rot.
Solvent-based silicone products, which are the most commonly advertised ‘protectants,' actually dissolve the wax and cause premature fading and sidewall cracking. Nationally advertised protectants contain harsh petroleum surfactants and are most often blended with glycol (antifreeze) to prevent drying and provide a shiny look. Unfortunately, the glycol also keeps the harmful surfactants active on the surface.
Silicone protectants also present a health and liability risk. They are dangerous to use on carts. Protectants, old-school type or newer ceramic coatings, can present a slip hazard. They can make steering wheels and pedals slick as well they expose occupants to toxins. If you read the fine print on labels and brand websites you will find disclaimers about these risks.
Protectant Check: If it feels slick or greasy after application, it contains active solvents.
Another negative, which you have likely experienced, is that silicone also attracts dirt and dust particles. A quality protectant should contain a strong UV-blocking compound to bolster the efforts of the carbon black and should not contain surfactants that remain active after applied.
Ceramic coatings and ceramic protectants have flooded the marketplace. We first introduced quartz and titanium blends into our full product line in 2015. There are now many cheap copies and many products claiming to contain ceramics. The majority of these are not ceramic. Polysiloxane is most often what you are buying with these ‘cheap ceramics.' Polysiloxane is just a step above silicone protectants, yet only gives the user a bit more longevity and no ceramic qualities or abilities.
True ceramic provides excellent protection and an enhancement of color and shine. Ceramics do not qualify as true restoration products, yet are often marketed as such. If your fleet is new or near-new condition, a real ceramic may be all you need. D3 RENEW PROTECT has always preferred to take ceramic a step further. Since 2015 we have always maintained a ‘ceramic-hybrid’ product line. This hybrid gives the user a true 100% OEM renewal and all the strong benefits of ceramics.