shiny chrome bumper and headlight of a classic red muscle car.

There’s really nothing quite like perfect chrome, to enhance a car and make it look newer. If the chrome on bumpers, wheel rims, hubcaps or trim on your car has rusted or oxidized, you can restore its original shine.

Higher quality chrome plating is able to resist rusting for long, but eventually, all chrome will corrode. Maintenance is also important for this material. If rusted chrome is left untreated for too long, it can become permanently pitted. But chrome can be salvaged before the damage is irreversible. This is great news because bright, shiny chrome can make a big difference in how your car looks.

Restoring the vehicle chrome features is a fairly quick, do-it-yourself repair project. Here’s a clear, step by step how-to guide.

  1. Isolate the chrome part.
  2. Scrape off the rust.
  3. Treat the metal.
  4. Clean the chrome.
  5. Treat the rust.
  6. Let the metal polish dry.
  7. Buff it off.
  8. Polish the chrome.

Read more about each step below.

Isolate the Chrome Part

First, you should take off the chrome part, if possible. You may have to look up how to disassemble the bumper. This will allow you to treat the rusted areas on the underside of the part.

If you need to restore rims or trim on the car which would be challenging to remove, use painter’s tape to separate the chrome from the rest of the car. It would be better to use a wider type of tape. A simple margin of tape will help protect the car paint from the buffing process and the scratchy steel wool.

Lough off the Rust

Using a wire brush or sandpaper, scratch off as much scaly rust from the metal surface as possible. Then, clean off the dust with soap and water.

Treat the Metal

Next, paint on an automotive rust treatment product, such as POR. This will help protect the part from future corrosion. Be sure to follow the product instructions about application and drying time. And this will complete the process for the non-visible surface of the metal part.

Clean the Chrome Surface

Clean the outside surface of the chrome thoroughly. Use a simple glass cleaner and paper towel to clean off any dust and grime that might have built up over time. While you’re cleaning the chrome, the rust spots will probably actually become more apparent.

Treat the Rusted Chrome

Once the chrome surface has been cleared of dirt and debris, it’s time to treat the rusted spots on the chrome. You should use metal polish and a fine steel wool* sponge. Ask your local automotive supply store for advice, but we recommend Turtle Wax Chrome Polish & Rust Remover.

Dip the sponge in the metal polish product then scrub the product on to the chrome. Use a quick back and forth motion and move all over the surface of the chrome part. Try to deposit a fairly even amount of the polish over the entire surface. Thoroughly scrub any spots that show more advanced signs of corrosion. You’ll need to use some elbow grease to complete this step.

*Steel wool is abrasive and should be kept away from the body of the car because it will scratch the paint.

If you spot some rust in the cracks or crevices, use a toothbrush to treat it with the metal polish. Wet the toothbrush, dip it in the polish, then use it to scrub the hard-to-reach areas.

Let the Metal Polish Set

Let the metal polish dry completely. Give it plenty of time to dry according to the product instructions.

Buff the Chrome

Next, once the metal polish has dried, use the dry side of the steel wool sponge to buff it off. Take the time to buff the whole surface of the chrome and remove all the particles of dried metal polish. Rinse any remaining polish off the metal with clean water.

Polish the Chrome

Finally, use a micro-fiber cloth to remove any remaining product and polish the chrome. Go back over each area until the entire surface has a high shine.

Find more helpful car maintenance information from Badell’s: How to Restore and Protect Your Headlights.

Rely on the pros to keep your car looking great for years to come. Badell’s Collision provides a full range of auto body maintenance and repair services. Drop into our shop in Aston and Malvern or use our simple online estimate form.

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