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How to remove rust from chrome on your car?

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Published: 2009-07-06

Any chromed piece of trim on your car is not made from chromium, but from iron or steel and has a thin coating of chromium for added shine and protection. Originally, this coating was applied the base metal by means of an electrochemical bath, this process is also called electroplating.
The chrome is very thin, maybe a few thousandths of an inch thick at most. It appears also to be very brittle, once its surface shows damage from impact with another object. Chrome is indeed very sturdy and can last a very long time with a little TLC. After all, most chromed trim parts are in highly visible areas and rust on it makes it an eyesore. 
It is actually not the chromium oxidizing here, but the base metal underneath. A mixture of salt, sand, dust and gravel plus water is all it takes to make a once perfect chromium finish disappear over time. Micro pores may have allowed water to be exposed to the base metal and initiated corrosion, which will be visible on the chromed surface. At first, it will only be a little pimple, hardly visible but it will spread permanently over time, if not treated.
Any Do-it-yourselfer can accomplish rust removal and rust prevention on chromed car parts by himself.
For deeply rusted parts, the treatment is slightly different then for mildly rusted ones, in any case just stop by the grocery store and buy a few limes, a can of Coke or other soda pop, a fine steel wool pad and get a 2 feet section of ordinary aluminum household foil. Some vinegar and then all you need to buy at a car parts or hardware store is a small tin of chrome polish.

Remove Rust from Chrome

Step by step:

  1. To apply chrome polish with the steel wool is recommendable for thick rust only, because it is too abrasive. 
  2. Most common chrome rust stains are treatable with any mild forms of acid. Your vinegar, Coke or limejuice will do the job just as good as a commercial rust remover will. 
  3. Apply the liquid over all affected areas and saturate the spots, the stains become water-soluble and are now much easier to clean. 
  4. Let the acid set in for a while.
  5. Crumble up the aluminum foil to a ball and rub in circular motion over all rusty areas.
  6. Wash off acid with a cloth and plenty of water, repeat this complete process if necessary.
  7. Add a little bit of salt if you are dealing with tough stain
  8. After removal of the surface rust, dry the part and apply the chrome polish with a soft rag.
  9. Dust polish residue off. 
  10. Done, there is your brand new shine again!

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