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See also Protectants in Home and Garden.

Auto Trim History:

Armor All, has been the leader in Vinyl, plastic and rubber protection, but Meguiar's, 303 Aerospace Protectant and others (see below) are all popular now.

You can find blogs claiming problems with Armor All such as, dust collection, no UV protection, deteriorates rubber, etc.
I couldn't find anything that looked like a scientific test.
I have a bottle of Armor All fro about 2000 and it says it has UV protection, yet there are web blog posts as recent as 2008 that claim it doesn't. It was reformulated somewhere around 2005 to be water based, so most of those claims were based n the old product.

A comment at 303 Protectant VS Armor All - CrossfireForum.org in 2007 says,
"From what I understand (*disclaimer - I am not a chemist*) the polymers in plastics and vinyls consist of Bis-(2-ethylhexyl)PhthlateakaDiOctyl Phthlate, (DOP) or di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). This is a plasticiser that makes polymers soft and pliable. It evaporates when exposed to UV light."

The arguments against Armour All are as follows:
  * Armour All brings the DOP to the surface and allows it to evaporate quicker. Many studies show this is true, while others show that this is not the case, so I guess this needs further testing.
  * Armour All doesn't block UV, thus allowing the DOP to evaporate. This is true as far as I know.

Armor All claims:
"Our improved, thicker formula provides enhanced control, a nongreasy finish and a deeper shine. All this plus even better UVA and UVB protection."
  * Helps prevent cracking, fading, discoloration and premature aging.
  * Renews and revitalizes vinyl, rubber and plastic.

See: 303 Protectant VS Armor All, 2008 at CrossFireForum.org for pros and cons.
One comment there:
As many of your know, I work for Meguiar's. Of course we test and compare all the competitors products, even to the point of having our chemists literally take the stuff apart.

Armor All is, without a doubt, the single most maligned product in the automotive finish care world. Back in the day it was just about the ONLY product of it's kind on the market, and it was being used on plastics and vinyls of the time (think back to the great quality of domestic car interiors back in 1975 - yeah, junk). Now consider that most people did NOTHING to the dash in their cars and over time the material would just dry out horribly. So Armor All hit the market and people jumped on it. Spray some on that badly weathered dash and the material would often swell and split, so everyone blamed Armor All - after all, the dash appeared fine before applying the stuff. Truth is, if the dash is that badly dried out it will have a tendancy to swell and split if you appy almost anything to it - even plain water. But since Armor All had virtually no competition at the time, it took the blame.

Armor All was reforumlated several years ago, mostly due to changing VOC regulations that they, us and all of our competitors face on an ongoing basis, and it's now basically just a water based dressing not terribly unlike 303, or several of our own (Meguiar's) dressings. It does tend to impart a pretty high shine still, which I personally don't care for (but then again we make a product or two who's appearance I don't care for, but some folks like that look so we make 'em). Of course, just because many of these are water based doesn't mean their all identical - far from it. 303 is an excellent product, but I'd put our M40 Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner or Hyper Dressing up against it any day.

Otherwise Armor All is fine to use on the interior, tires, etc. If you don't mind the look.

A note at the Wolfgang Vinyl & Rubber Protectant page in 2009 still claimed "Other protectant products contain petroleum distillates as their shine agent." Because of VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) regulations in many states this is no longer true.

Vinyl & Plastic Auto Trim:

Ratings at Amazon: (2014)
303 Aerospace Protectant-4.8
Meguiar's Ultimate Quick Detailer-4.7
Mothers Back-to-Black Trim Care-4.0
Turtle Wax T-125 Trim Restorer-3.7
Armor All Outlast Trim and Plastic Restorer - Only 1 review

Armor All Protectant Gel vs. 303 Products vs. Meguiar's vs. Mothers Polish at autopia.org

The general purpose products like Armor All and Meguiars protectant say they are good for rubber also.
However there are a bunch of products designed just for tires:
Meguiars Gold Class Endurance High Gloss Tire Gel
Zaino Bros Z-16 Perfect Tire Gloss

A 2012 review of wheel and tire cleaners at Consumer Reports rated Eagle One A2Z, Meguiars, and Mothers best.

Meguiar's Supreme Shine Protectant (SSP)
Meguiars Mirror Glaze M40
Wolfgang Vinyl/Rubber Protectant
303 Aerospace Protectant
Comment at pistonHeads.com: "When 303 Aerospace Protectant is used on the external trim, such as bump strips, wiper arms, etc - don't bother. Doesn't last, streaks as soon as it gets wet, and I shudder to think how much silicone it contains.

Exterior paint:
Nano/Ceramic coatings:
Everything you need to know about Ceramic Coating in 2020

last updated 4 Jan 2020