There's nothing worse than corrosion damage or permanent blemishes tarnishing the shiny chrome elements on your vehicle. The two most common chrome pieces on a vehicle are bumpers and rims. While chrome is very easy to keep shiny and gleaming, our busy lives, road grime, and all-too-convenient drive-thru car washes don't do this soft and fragile metal any favors.
Prevent Damage - keep it clean!
Once the metal becomes tarnished or fogged, you'll have to enlist the aid of expensive cleaning agents and buffing tools. If the finish becomes pitted or scratched due to neglect, you'll have to take the parts to a shop that specializes in chrome plating to have them refinished. ($$$) The good news is that chrome is very easy to clean and maintain. Adding just a few minutes of extra preventative maintenance now and again will keep your chromed out bumpers and rims in eye-catching condition for as long as you own the vehicle.
How to Keep Chrome Looking Immaculate
1. Dry Polish After Washing
Take a shammy or polishing cloth and dry your bumper, rims, and other chrome elements on the vehicle after every car wash. Do not rely on the automatic dryers at drive-thru car washes! If you let chrome air dry, it will almost always be left with water spots afterward. These water spots stand out and also attract dirt, oil and grime which can lead to tarnishing and corrosion.
2. Soap and Water
If you make a regular effort to clean the chrome on your vehicle, soap and water is the cheapest and least-corrosive option for protecting your investment. Fill a bucket or spray bottle with dish soap and warm water, then use a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge to clean with. Make an effort to hit every area and use a soft-bristle tooth brush for any nooks and crannies you can't get your cloth or rag into. Rinse really well when you're finished and don't forget to hand dry with a microfiber cloth!
Using regular 5% white vinegar is actually preferable to using just soap and water on their own, as its mild acidity is much more effective at cleaning off oily grime. However, many people despise using it because of the odor. Keep in mind that cleaning your bumper with vinegar is a second step in the cleaning process; not a first. It's important to wash the chrome pieces with soap and water first, to prevent scratches. Use the vinegar liberally. Using a stronger strength than 5% isn't advised, as too much acidity can damage chrome over time.
Don't use just any old clay. You can buy wheel and bumper cleaning clay at any commercial auto parts store. Clay is great for picking up leftover grime and wheel dust that a rag or sponge just can't get. It also provides a great shine. Rub the clay over the entire chrome surface, then finish off by rubbing everything down with a clean microfiber rag.
You'll want to use a buffing attachment and cleaner that's suitable for chrome. A wheel polishing ball is a great investment, as they're made for getting at every part of chrome wheels, and they're just fine for bumpers as well. Make sure to go over each part of the bumper or rim several times, then dry and polish with a microfiber towel.
What to Avoid
Never use any cleaning product that doesn't specifically state that it's suitable for use with chrome. Scouring pads are a big no-no! They'll instantly ruin the smooth finish of the metal. Avoid using commercial chrome cleaners unless you have to. Soap, water, and vinegar will save you tons of money and are much safer for long-term use. AutoPartsToys has a massive lineup of chrome bumpers, grilles, billet vents, door handles and other great aftermarket accessories.