A word about 'dressings'. They are silicone based products such as Armor All or Son of a Gun. Although they are commonly used by detailers, they are also controversial. It's a matter of personal preference. Some do not like the "wet look" that dressings give, insisting that it is not natural and that cars treated with dressings do not "look right". But many detailers like the finish and gloss they provide.
Here are some of the stories you'll hear about dressings:
There is good news however. Used properly, dressings can revitalize many parts of a car, such as weather beaten convertible tops and vinyl roofs. Dressings also provide a protective shield and many offer UV protection. We do have some recommendations however. Different products result in different gloss levels, so try various brands to find the one that gives you the desired results. Apply it sparingly, as it can be easily overdone. Also important: do a thorough job of removing the excess dressing.
- Vinyl can become "addicted" to dressings. The story goes like so: If you apply a dressing on a vinyl surface, you will have to apply it regularly to that vinyl surface or it will start to crack.
There is no real evidence that this is true, at least with modern day dressings. If anything, maintaining vinyl parts, including the use of dressings, would prevent cracking. Anybody who tells you their vinyl cracked because they used a dressing is probably trying to cover up for the fact that they did not maintain the vinyl properly.
- Using dressings on a painted surface can cause "fisheye" problems if the area is repainted even if the surface is taken down to bare metal as part of the preparation.
Probably not true. To start with, there are treatments to remove dressings as part of the paint preparation process. Most likely anybody who paints your car and has "fisheye" problems did not properly prepare the surface.
- Using dressings on air bags can cause problems with their deployment.
This one is hard to pin down, as air bags are a sensitive issue in this sue-happy world we live in. To be safe, you are probably best off not using dressings on air bags. It is worth noting that Armor-All does not recommend that their products be used on air bags.
One definite recommendation we can make is to never use a dressing on an area where grip is important. This includes the steering wheel and the pedals, where you do not want your foot to slip!