Home » Why Are White Letters on Tires Coming Back?
Why Are White Letters on Tires Coming Back?

Why Are White Letters on Tires Coming Back?

Every tire has a unique story to tell.

When you look at the information printed on the sidewall, you can find everything from the size of the product to the direction it should travel. Some can even tell you when it is time to replace them.

Why Are White Letters on Tires Coming Back?

The first pneumatic tires for automobiles were all white. This color occurred because the natural rubber mixed with zinc oxide to increase traction. Manufacturers added carbon black to increase durability, but they left the sidewalls white. As the sides got thinner, that white layer was used for the brand name instead.

John Boyd Dunlap receives the credit for the initial white tire. This Irish inventor was on a quest to improve the way his son’s tricycle would ride.

Although many others had taken a turn at trying to create a pneumatic tire, Dunlop was the first person to create something that was commercially viable. That meant the vehicles industry could transition from solid rubber tires to something more performance-orientated.

Those early pneumatic tires were all white. Unless zinc oxide was mixed with the natural rubber, there wasn’t enough traction available to create a safe riding or driving experience. That meant your tires looked filthy all the time.

Tire manufacturers started adding carbon black to the mixture for more durability with the tread, creating the white sidewall look in the process. Although they stayed in fashion for a couple of decades, people wanted them to be thinner until they eventually just disappeared.

The white layer from the natural rubber and zinc oxide is still there underneath the thin black rubber outer coating. By imprinting the manufacturer’s name with raised letters, the top could get scuffed away to produce white letters.

Although some tire manufacturers avoided this look entirely, many of them took advantage of it as a way to advertise themselves while providing a functional product.

Today, the tire industry is different. Almost all the brand names are blacked out on the products offered for sale. It creates a monochromatic look where the emphasis is more on the wheels and rims than the rubber.

Things are starting to change in that regard. With more drivers wanting the white letters to return, you’re seeing a comeback in this vintage style.

Whitewalls Are Still Around, Even If They’re Not as Popular

You can find white-letter tires and whitewalls if you search for something new for your vehicle. Some brands are even using alternative colors for their branding to create unique looks. That means you can achieve your goals with each build with relative ease.

More customs use the whitewalls or raised white lettering to make a statement with the design.

There’s even an element of visual interest to consider when looking at the alternatives to a black monochromatic style.

When added to a motorcycle, the white letters lend a racy look that feels old-school in its approach. That makes the bike seem like it has more power and acceleration visually.

If you already have monochromatic tires, you can add white lettering to the sidewalls yourself without much effort.

All it takes is a Tire Penz white pen and a tire free of grime, dirt, and other souvenirs from the road. You’ll need to shake the product first, working the paint into the text to give it some extra pop.

Instead of trying to “write” the letters with the paint pen, it works better to stipple the brand name. It creates a more natural look.

The tip has some wispy ends that can produce some stray marks. It helps to keep some cotton swabs around to ensure your tires look clean after finishing this project.

Another option for the white coloration is the White Sharpie Oil Paint Marker.

Start with a base coat, then give the lettering a second pass immediately after the product dries. This process makes the letters stand out with vivid aesthetics.

It isn’t a permanent change, but it is one of the cheapest and fastest mods you can create to improve the look of your vehicle or motorcycle.

Are There Any Benefits of Having Whitewall Tires?

The primary benefit to consider with whitewall tires involves the look you can achieve with your vehicle. It’s an easy way to stand out in the crowd because virtually all cars from the dealership come with all black tires.

It’s a trend that you can see with other vehicle components. How many makes and models do you see with pop-up headlights today?

When was the last time you saw a brand-new car come with a front bench? Although this option is available in some SUVs and oversized pickups, you’d have to grab a 2013 Chevy Impala to seat three people in the front row.

Even a full-size spare tire is an endangered option in some cars. If you purchase a new Hyundai, you have to pay for the little donut tire and a jack separately for some models. Why? Because the automaker includes emergency roadside services.

◼️ Why change a flat when someone can tow you to the nearest garage?

Whether you agree with that logic or not, whitewall tires are on that list. It’s more of a fashionable product than something functional. You can buy them or their all-black competitors and still have a safe drive down whatever roads you enjoy.

If anything, owning whitewall tires comes with more disadvantages than advantages. They require more cleaning, cause people to stop because they want to talk with you, and don’t always match up with your car’s trim.

It isn’t 1934 when Ford let you get whitewalls for $11.25. People loved them, and it became a tradition to clean them – like other chores around the house.

After World War II, the goal was to streamline the manufacturing process. Whitewalls fell out of fashion because the world got busier.

Thankfully, the white letters are coming back as an option for those who want a different style.

FAQ for Whitewall Tires and White Letters on Tires

If you’ve been thinking about changing up the look of your vehicle or motorcycle, whitewall tires or white-letter branding are two fantastic options.

Before you follow through with that option, it helps to review the frequently asked questions people have about this product. The following information will let you make a more informed decision about this stylish design.

◼️ What is the point of having whitewall tires?

Whitewall tires provide a different visual appearance than what most vehicles offer today. Instead of using the monochromatic black look, you get a thin or thick strip of white to enjoy visually from the side.

Until the early 1960s, whitewall sizes could be three inches or more. After that, tire manufacturers decreased them to about one inch in width. Some makes and models were never given this look, and most of the ones that did are now part of today’s classic car show circuit.

Most people see the tires first. If you want to create a conversation piece, whitewalls will get the job done. White-letter tires are a good compromise if you don’t like a full swath of white along the bottom of the car.

◼️ What is the difference between “whitewall tires” and “white wall tires?”

There are no differences to compare between whitewall and “white wall” tires. It’s just the manner of how a writer spells it. Both terms describe the same product that you would put on your vehicle.

◼️ Do tire manufacturers still make whitewall tires?

Yes. You can purchase whitewall tires for most vehicles today. The sizes typically run between 13 to 22 inches, although you can find more extensive options for trucks.

The whitewall size is another important attribute to consider when shopping for these tires. Today’s manufacturers supply them with a width of 5/8 inches to over four inches.

They’re typically made as bias-ply or steel-belted radials, with brands like Goodyear, Firestone, and BF Goodrich supplying choices.

◼️ Can I still buy whitewall tires?

You can still purchase brand-new whitewall tires. They come in different sizes, and the products are typically manufactured in the United States.

The primary reason you don’t see them on automobiles is the added cost of the product. Depending on the size and manufacturer, you can pay up to 25% more for whitewalls than you would a standard all-black product.

◼️ How hard is it to keep whitewall tires clean?

It doesn’t take much to keep your tires clean if you like to roll with whitewalls. Most drivers use a combination of soap and water. Melamine foam or Mr. Clean Magic Erasers do a great job when you have something tougher to remove. Another option is Simple Green Extreme.

What you must avoid using to clean your whitewalls is anything that contains lye or bleach. Applying those cleaners can cause the white coloration to turn yellow, and some people see cracking form in the tire.

Do not use Armor All on whitewall tires.

Before you purchase cleaners for your tires, please remember to review the ingredient list. Some items that say they’re designed for whitewalls have bleach in them, which could end up damaging the tire.

◼️ Do trucks or trailers take passenger car whitewall tires?

It is not a good idea to run vehicles with a lower tire size unless it has been modified to accept the difference. Your owner’s manual will tell you the minimum and maximum tire size to use for your car, truck, van, or SUV.

It might be tempting to use non-ST tires, but you need that product for towing stability, low rolling resistance, and general durability. ST tires typically carry up to 10% more than a standard passenger tire.

If your dealer or tire store doesn’t have whitewalls in your size footprint, you can always shop online or ask around at other retailers. Some tire manufacturers might allow for a special order.

◼️ Are there differences between the different whitewall tire brands?

You’ll find several price differences to consider between the various brands that sell whitewall tires today.

Although the industry uses standardized sizing for the tires, there are still differences in tread style, width, and design. Some of the products look vintage, while others appear to be duplicates of their monochromatic black counterparts.

It all depends on what you hope to accomplish with these tires. Most people find that they can find something that works for their performance and visual needs in this category.

Tire Cleaner Product Recommendation: Chemical Guys VRP

What I love about the Chemical Guys TVD-107 VRP Cleaner is that it turns a dull tire into something that glistens and demands attention. “VRP” stands for “vinyl, rubber, and plastic.”

The product penetrates into the tire to nourish and restore its appearance to a showroom shine. Even though it looks a touch greasy or glossy once applied, it doesn’t feel that way when you touch the surface.

That rich shine can apply to your trim, door panels, dashboards, and more. It does an excellent job of restoring the whiteness to your sidewalls, even if you’re running tires that have a four-inch band.

It’s a water-based formula that still applies as a refined cream. The product includes UV blockers that give your vehicle some “sunscreen” that repels harmful rays that could bleach your tires or other components. 

The only issue with the Chemical Guys TVD-107 VRP Cleaner is that it washes off relatively quickly. It’s not meant to be a product where you drive it every day. If you want to give your vehicle a quick clean while getting it ready for a show, this item is the way to go.

I love the product for whitewalls because it doesn’t give you those chemical vapors or create dangers to your wheels and rims. You can apply it right away, wipe away the grime, and be left with tires that look fantastic.

Whitewalls might not be for everyone, but the white-letter look is making a comeback. If you keep those tires clean and looking good, your vehicle will always make a positive first impression!


Attention: You have to take care of your own safety and health. The information on www.vehicletrooper.com only serves for learning and entertainment purposes and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Before you use any equipment or vehicle, make sure you have been properly instructed by an expert and adhere to all safety precautions. This site is owned and operated by Media Pantheon, Inc., Media Pantheon, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for websites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com