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Car Detailing: How to Clean and Polish Chrome

Chrome cleaning and polishing What is the first thing your eye is drawn to when you by-pass a cool-looking vehicle driving past. It’s the chrome or bling bling that pops out at you. Every automotive will have some, to a greater or lesser extent. If you do not notice it on your vehicle, it is probably time to give it a good once or twice over to knock off the road contaminants that are hogging it.

Get To Know Your Chrome

Before we discuss how, let’s get to know this captivating metal a little better in order to make the best out of our efforts on how to clean and polish chrome. There are two types, real chrome and plastic chrome. If you have a vehicle from as far back as the 40’s to the 70’s, chances are high that it is real chrome on its bumper and rims.

However, with the escalating global demand for automotives, plastic chrome is more of the norm for your average vehicles manufactured these days. Plastic chrome is in fact, plastic that is coated with chrome. It is commonly used as it weighs less and is cheaper to produce. So, while you can let its shine come through, you want to avoid overdoing the polishing and buffing to where it cuts into and exposes the underlying layers of metal of your vehicle. Thus, you have to be sure as to which type your automotive has, in order to know how to clean and polish chrome properly.

Cleaning Your Chrome

First thing you have to do is hose down the chrome areas you want to work, clearing off as much of the larger physical contaminants; dirt, mud and gunk. Suppose it is your wheel rims you are starting off with apply your chrome cleaner onto its surface and use a wheel brush to help you work it in and remove the more persistent bits. A good chrome cleaner will have lubricants that allows you to clean without scratching your chrome.

Work on a small section at a time and do not let the cleaner dry out on the surface. Should there be stubborn stains that will not budge; you may want to use synthetic steel wool to help the process along. Once that is done, use water to give it a rinse off. Then, use a clean microfiber wash cloth to dry the section up. Just as you do not want to leave cleaner stains, you do not want to leave behind any water spots either.

Polishing Your Chrome

When it comes to polishing metal surfaces, to get the best results, check the manufacturer’s how to clean and polish chrome section of their instruction sheets or ask your local auto detailing shop. They are likely to suggest the kinds of polishes, compounds and tools that are best suited for the metal type of your vehicle. An electric rotary may be what is needed to give real chrome a high-grade and long-lasting polish but for plastic chrome, a mild sealant and hand polish is the better way to bring out its shine.

Apply the chrome polish or sealant to the wheel and use a polishing tool, such as an orbital rotary polishing tool. At a moderate speed slowly work the product onto small sections at a time. Next, step will be to gradually increase the speed and work the surface until the polish is no longer visible. Lastly, you will find a much clearer reflection of you!

Most good quality polishes contain wax that retards oxidation, the last part will be to buff the area down, to seal the metal and the wax. By doing so, it reduces the impact of water staining from condensation, retards oxidation, and the need for frequent polishing and intensive cleaning. So there you have it in a nutshell as to how to clean and polish chrome.

3 Responses to “Car Detailing: How to Clean and Polish Chrome”

  1. Regina, we’ve never tried Coca-Cola to remove rust before. Would love some before and after photos? Have any? ~ Annette

  2. […] a simple home remedy can go a long way. Use elbow grease, a little water and soap to clean the wheels and the bumper of your car to restore their shiny […]

  3. […] Chrome is used mostly in wheel rims and the car buffer or you may have a customized luxury car that is fully-chrome! While some cars may have real chrome, most today have chrome-plated plastic as a cheaper alternative. Road contaminants such as mud, dust, tar, and other dirt can easily dull the appearance of chrome. Cleaning chrome with steel wool, and then working in a polishing compound specifically made for metal using a piece of equipment such as a rotary buffer is the standard method to polish your car chrome. […]


November 2013
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