How to machine scrub tires to get them cleaner, better & faster!

How to machine scrub tires to get them cleaner, better & faster!

Here's me machine scrubbing the tires on a 2018 Chrysler 300sMachine scrubbing tires with FLEX cordless PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher

The first time I shared how to machine scrub tires was back on October 25th, 2013 - that's 8 years ago as I type today, April 17th, 2023.  I don't know if I'm the first person to show people how to machine scrub tires but I cannot find anything on the Internet BEFORE October 25th, of 2013 that shows people how to machine scrub tires.

If you can document someone sharing how to machine scrub tires before 2013 - please share the documentation in the comments as I prefer to give due credit where credit is due and this includes giving myself due credit if no one can find an earlier proof.


Why machine scrub tires?

Simple - the machine always does a better job faster than the human.  Seriously.    This battery operated rotary polisher never gets tired unlike me - I do get tired when trying to rub some kind of brush over the sidewall of a tire when washing a car.

Machine scrubbing tires with FLEX cordless PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher


What is the tool in the picture?

The machine I'm using is the FLEX Cordless PE-150 Rotary Polisher.  This is one of my top 10 favorite tools.  I mostly use the rotary for doing heavy-duty paint correction because a rotary polisher in the hands of a trained, and experienced professional detailer is the fastest way to remove deep paint defects like sanding marks, swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation.  It's also the nicest rotary polisher on the market, so it's a real pleasure to use whether I'm doing paint correction, scrubbing the non-skid floor in a boat to remove mold and/or oxidation, or as you see here, machine scrubbing tires.

The tool I'm using is the FLEX cordless rotary polisher spins the 5" Rotary Brush in a circle and cleans the heck out of the tires - much better than any hand-held tire brush.

Machine scrubbing tires with FLEX cordless PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher


What is the brush?

Great question!  The brush you see is the AutoForge 5" Rotary Polisher Scrub Brush.  This brush has flexible nylon bristles that are 2.5" long.  The long length and flexibility of the bristles works PERFECT for machine scrubbing tires, vinyl tops, non-skid surfaces inside boats, and even tile floors or concrete floors if you find the need for cleaning anything like these items.

Machine scrubbing tires with FLEX cordless PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher


What is that backing plate?

Another great question.  This is a flexible backing plate that we carry primarily for use when doing Sub-Surface Glass Polishing.  The flexible foam core enables the hard, flat rayon glass polishing pad to curve in order to maintain 100% contact with the surface of things like car windshields that usually have a curve to their design.  That said, anytime you're using a rotary polisher to buff on anything, a flexible backing plate helps to smooth out the action to make the work easier and smoother on you.

Machine scrubbing tires with FLEX cordless PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher


What is the shiny steel shaft between the backing plate and the rotary polisher?

Yet another great question.  This component is called a Rotary Polisher Extension Shaft .  You don't need to use an extension shaft when machine scrubbing tires but to be honest, it helps for cleaning the flat spot of the tire, (the flat spot is the part of the tire that's actually making contact with the ground), plus it often helps to enable you to buff the high part of the tire sidewall close to the fender lip.

Rotary buffer polisher extension shaft stainless steel Lake Country Mike Phillips



What type of tire cleaner should be used when machine scrubbing tires?

Any tire cleaner will work, I like tire cleaners that become foamy when used because the color of the foam can tell you when the tire is completely clean.  Brownish, blackish foam when machine scrubbing means the tire is still dirty.  A bright, white colored foam indicates the tires are clean and you can move onto the next wheel and tire or to washing the car.

The Mckee's 37 Tire & Rubber Rejuvenator works great for machine scrubbing tires and if you like to be super careful when it comes to your own rims or when working on customer's cars - then get a bottle of the McKee's 37 Gentle Wheel Cleaner - the name says it all.

Best Tire Cleaner Reviews Coatings Graphene Mike Phillips


How to machine clean tires

Tools needed

AutoForge 5 inch Rotary Machine Scrub Brush

Lake Country 4 3/8 Inch Flexible Rotary Backing Plate

Lake Country Rotary Extension Kit

 FLEX PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher

McKee's 37 Tire & Rubber Rejuvenator

McKee's 37 Gentle Wheel Cleaner

Knee Cushion


Step by step directions

Step 1:Spray wheel and tire with water to remove any loose dirt, brake dust and traffic film.

Step 2: Spray wheel with wheel cleaner and allow wheel cleaner to dwell while you're machine scrubbing tire.

Step 3: Spray tire sidewall with McKee's Tire & Rubber Rejuvenator and then machine scrub using AutoForge 5" brush on the FLEX PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher.

Step 4: Gently agitate wheel cleaner to remove any stubborn brake dust and traffic film.

Step 5: Thoroughly rinse rim and tire.

Repeat to the remaining rims and tires.


 Detailer's Knee & Back Mat

Save your seat!  Although this is sold as a knee and back cushion with the idea being it saves or protects your knees and back when working on the ground, the way I normally use it is to SIT ON when I'm machine scrubbing tires and cleaning rims. 

Detailer's Knee & Back Mat best seat cushion review Mike Phillips


1" of luxurious cushion!

Not only does it provide a full 1 inch of cushion between me and the HARD PAVEMENT - it keeps my pants from getting wet as normally when you're washing a car and cleaning the wheels and tires, the ground is wet around you.

Best knew back and butt cusion for car detailing Reviews Mike Phillips



Seal the rim and dress the tire!

To complete the look and provide long lasting beauty and protection, after you've washed and dried the vehicle, apply your favorite tire dressing and install a ceramic coating onto the rim.

Best tire dressings coatings reviews Mike Phillips Tuf Shine


Here's the rims after being ceramic coated and the tires after machine scrubbing and dressing with McKee's 37 Tire Shine SiO2 Enhanced.

Best wheel cleaner best rim brush review Mike Phillips


Clean, coated rims and dressed tires add the finishing touches to any professional detail job!

Start car detailing business work from home be your own boss Detailing Class Course Mike Phillips


Old school vs new school

Nothing wrong with scrubbing tires with a brush by hand, but once you machine scrub tires using the FLEX cordless rotary polisher, you'll never go back to hand scrubbing.  What I tell my friends is this,

If you've been looking for a good reason to be nice to yourself and you know you want a FLEX cordless rotary polisher for doing paint correction - being able to also machine scrub tires and all sorts of other surfaces and do the job better and faster by using a cordless rotary polisher - well, here's your excuse. 


We're always so nice to others when we buy gifts for birthdays, weddings, anniversary, etc.  Why not be nice to yourself and get the best - get yourself a FLEX PE-150 Cordless Rotary Polisher.


 Learn to machine scrub tires and ceramic coat rims!

 The BEST Hands on detailing classes with Mike Phillips and Nick Rutter in sunny Stuart Florida

Whether you detail cars professionally, want to start a car detailing business or if you just want to learn how to detail your own cars, you can flatten out the learning curve and have a lot of fun taking the Mike Phillips & Nick Rutter 100% Hands-on Detailing Classes!

Click this link to learn more, see a detailed list of topics covered or sign-up.



Mike Phillips


Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips

Ed Parkey – April 27, 2023 at 09:02am
Where are the 3”& 3.5” various foam pads?

Hi Ed,
If you click the link below, there are 3.75" foam pads to choose from the Redline line of pads. Each page will give you the option to pick the size you want but note – all 3 sizes are on the same page instead of having their own page.

Foam Cutting

Foam Polishing

Foam AIO or All-in-One pads (a tick less aggressive than the foam polishing pads)

Foam finishing pads

Questions? Give me a call 760-515-0444
Mike Phillips

Ed Parkey

Ed Parkey

Where are the 3”& 3.5” various foam pads?

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