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How to Remove Scratches from Chrome [Bumper, Rims, and More!]

Scratches on your chrome car parts, such as the bumpers and tire rims, are a normal occurrence. Those scratches give annoying and unsightly marks on your car’s exterior, and you probably want to remove them. We have researched to give you the most helpful guide for your convenience at removing those marks.

Chrome scratches can either affect a large or small area of the surface. Large scratches might require you to bring your car to the body shop. Luckily, you can handily remove fine or small scratches at home with no costly procedure. Here are the steps:

  1. Slightly wet the affected area with chrome polish.
  2. Get a ball of super fine steel wool and dip it into the polish.
  3. Rub the scratched surface with the steel wool in circular strokes.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the scratches disappear.
  5. Wipe the excess polish with a microfiber cloth.

Many car and motorcycle owners are keen on making their bumpers, tire rims, and exhaust pipes shimmer under the heat of the sun, even mirror-like on a close look. In this post, we will discuss in detail how to effectively remove the scratches to give luster and shine to chrome hardware. Keep reading!

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Green scratched car with damaged paint in crash accident or parking lot and dented metal body from collision, How to Remove Scratches from Chrome [Bumper, Rims, and More!]

Why Chrome Scratches Happen?

Chrome plating affords a shiny and expensive look to your car’s exterior. It gives a durable and long-lasting shine and luster and can withstand normal wear and tear. It is also corrosive-resistant and supposedly scratch-resistant!

But why do scratches occur? It is because the plating of the surface is made of a very thin layer of chromium. Even with your extra care and pampering in giving your car a nice polished look every day, you would always notice scratch marks and swirls on the surface. Even a dried waterdrop after a heavy rain could also leave a mark. This may look annoying to some car owners.

The most common culprit of chrome scratches and dents is debris and stones kicking up from the road. This is especially true if you are fond of driving off-road and road conditions aren't good. Also, you may have skidded on the sidewalk you hit a hard surface. Moreso, you miscalculated and hit the gate post while you were about to park your car.

Your car’s chrome hardware is always exposed to the rugged elements while on the road. Also, occasional contact with metal surfaces such as shopping cart bumps, bicycles, smudges of dirt, and mud all leave noticeable marks on the chrome surface. And at its worst, it cannot be avoided.

Low angle black and white photograph of motorcycle with double exhaust

How to Remove Chrome Scratches

First and foremost, determine if the scratch covers a large or small surface area. A large area could be a deep scratch, and the chrome hardware, in a few cases, is indented already. In this case, a new chrome finish or replating, is needed, and you need the services of an automotive body shop.

For Deep Scratches

sad man with car accident in street

With a deep scratch at the bumper, there could be serious damage to your car. You may not be aware that you could have bumped into something or some other have hit your car at that spot. You need to assess the damage not only to the chrome’s surface but also to the components underneath. This could be a costly procedure.

For Small Scratches

Man applying polish to removing scratches

Small and light scratches on your car’s bumper, tire rims, mufflers, and exhaust pipes of motorcycles could be easily remedied by yourself at home. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Slightly Wet the Scratched Area with a Polishing Agent

The scratched chrome surface needs to be dampened first with polish; else, you will not get the expected result. This initial step helps to loosen the chrome chemicals on the surface so that it would be easy to rub and even out the surface later. Though not all, scratches create slight grooves, while some create discolorations on the metal.

In the succeeding section, we will discuss the recommended polishing agents made specifically for chrome metal.

Step 2: Dip a Ball of Steel Wool into the Polishing Agent

Slightly moisten the steel wool by dipping it into the polish. The moistened steel wool acts as a lubricant that makes rubbing go smoothly over the surface. Moreso, any dry portion of the steel wool should not be in contact with the chrome plating since this will result in a dull shine.

Step 3: Rub the Affected Area with the Steel Wool in a Circular Motion

It is important that the steel wool should be extra fine with grade 0000. This is the finest steel wool available on the market. Remember, chrome plating is just a thin layer, a coarser grade could detach the chrome chemicals from the surface, which may cause more damage than good.

Super fine steel wool has uniform, high-quality metal strands with the appropriate abrasiveness that can work perfectly well with polishing compounds. It should be soft and flexible enough that it could aid you in easy cleaning and rubbing the deep and hidden grooves of your tire rims, muffler, and exhaust pipe.

In the absence of 0000-grade steel wool, a soft fiber cloth could be a good alternative.

Shop for this steel wool on Amazon

Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 and 3 Until the Scratches Disappear

You would need to liberally rub the whole scratched surface. More polish is needed every 2-4 minutes to moisten the steel wool and the surface. Typically, the scratches should disappear within 10 to 20 minutes after continuous rubbing.

During rubbing, the mechanism works by gradually removing a small layer of chrome. In a deep scratch, the continuous buffing of steel wool will eventually result in noticeable marks on the chrome surface. Most likely, the cleaning and buffing will not give pleasant results. This is when professional services at the car body shop are needed.

Step 5: Wipe the Excess Polish with a Microfiber Cloth

After a thorough rubbing, and when the scratches get diminished, a microfiber cloth is needed to evenly distribute the excess polish to give a nice luster and shine. A dry rag cloth may be used as an alternative, but the shine may not be as good.

Cloths with soft fiber are highly recommended due to their non-abrasive elements that will not damage your car's paint and chrome metal. Similarly, they work well with polishing compounds since they fully absorb the chemicals leaving the surface streak-free and lint-free.

Shop for this microfiber cloth on Amazon.

Helpful Tip

If you were using a different brand of chrome polish other than the brand you have been using, it would be helpful if you do a trial test on an inconspicuous spot on your car. This is to ensure that the steel wool and the polish would not cause further damage to your chrome hardware.

What Are The Recommended Brands of Chrome Polishing Agents?

Car polishing chemistry bottles at garage

The chrome polishing agents that are available on the market come in different packaging. Some are cream form, while others are liquid. Some brands of cream polish are packaged in wide-mouthed containers so the steel wool can be conveniently dipped. These are readily available in many automobile and hardware shops.

Most polishing agents are packaged in squeezable tubes or liquid containers. In this case, squeeze two pea-sized drops onto your damp microfiber cloth or superfine steel wool. Then spread it evenly over the chrome surface in a circular motion.

Here are some of the widely used polishing compounds used to remove light scratches on chrome:

Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish Restorer

Shop for this product on Amazon.

This Chemical Guys polishing compound is in cream form and is one of the most commonly used brands among car owners. It is best for shining your tire rims, wheelbase, bumpers, and exhaust pipes. It effectively removes light scratches and stains, including rain spots.

3M Chrome and Metal Polish

Shop for this product on Amazon.

Backed by a reputable brand, 3M, this product is industry-approved. Its packaging is in a wide-mouth container, conducive for heavy metal polishing--a favorite among Harley Davidson enthusiasts.

The product is made specifically for chrome metal. It definitely boosts the reflective sparkle and shine, restoring your chrome wheels, trim, and bumpers to a "like new" condition.

AutoSol Metal Polish

Shop for this product on Amazon

AutoSol has gained encouraging professional reviews among car owners.  It gained the advantage of its convenient and durable packaging plus a hard PVC box, best for rugged use in the automotive industry. It is a polish paste, so there is less wastage and is economical to use.  An easy application can effectively remove light scratches and tarnish on chrome metal.

Can Brillo Pad Be Used on Chrome?

A Brillo pad work perfectly well to polish your car’s chrome hardware. It can be a good alternative to steel wool or chrome polish. Though this product has steel fibers, such are round-shaped that won’t dull and scratch the chrome finish.

Final Thoughts

Green scratched car with damaged paint in crash accident or parking lot and dented metal body from collision

As part of your car cleaning regimen, removing light scratches and swivel marks from your bumpers, rims, exhaust pipe, mufflers, and other chrome hardware can be easily done. All you need to have is a high-quality polishing agent for chrome metal, fine-grade steel wool, and a microfiber cloth.

However, deep scratches can mean serious damage that you may need to bring your car to the body shop. 

There are recommended brands of polishing creams, paste, and liquid that give you the convenience of pampering your car or motorcycle to restore the sparkle and shine and give you a "new look" every day on the road. Drive with confidence and pride with your shimmering bumper, rims, and exhaust pipes!   

Aside from polishing your chrome hardware, your car's body paint might also be of interest to you. We have these posts on this topic: 

Car Paint Peeling Off--What To Do?

Bugs Etched Into Car Paint--What To Do?

Car Bumper Paint Peeling--What To Do?