Chrome Rim Repair: A How to Guide

February 16, 2012

Learning a little bit about chrome rim repair will help you make the right decision about what to do when they have been damaged or scratched. Chrome rim restoration can involve several different methods. If your chrome rims have been scratched, the way to restore them most effectively on your own is either by using a chrome rim cleaner or by using chrome rim paint. The only way to re-plate them is by a process of chrome rim dipping. It is, however, expensive and cannot be done at home. This how-to guide will detail the process of getting your chrome rims to look new as inexpensively and effectively as possible.

Tools and Materials

  • Soft cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Chrome rim paint
  • Small paint brush
  • Buffing cloth

Step 1: Determine the Extent of the Repair

First, if your rims are tarnished, they are not chrome but polished aluminum. A tarnish remover will then be what you need. Once you are certain the rims are chrome, determine the extent of the damage. If they are just dirty or slightly rusted, a good cleaning may be all they require. If, on the other hand, they have scratches, you might want to clean them first then touch them up with chrome paint.

Step 2: Clean the Rims

Use a coarse rag to wipe off any large debris or dirt from the rims. Next, take the soft cloth and hold it over the open lid of the rubbing alcohol and wet it. Thoroughly rub down the chrome rims with the soft cloth and rubbing alcohol. If the rust is persistent, stick with it. Never use steel wool to remove any rust, for it will scratch the chrome.

Step 3: Touch Up Scratches

After the rims have been cleaned with rubbing alcohol, if any scratches are present, touch them up using chrome rim paint. Keep in mind, metal looks different than paint, so it may be noticeable from up close. Gladly, most onlookers never get that close, so if you can live with it, it's okay.

Step 4: Use Epoxy for Gashes

If your chrome rims have any deep dings or gashes that paint won't simply cover up, you can try a hard epoxy in a can. Follow the directions carefully, but basically you fill in the gash or indent and smooth it out after it dries. Again, use a smoothing material that won't scratch the chrome. After it is smoothed out, touch it up with chrome paint.

Chrome rim repair is something you can do at home. You probably do not have the materials, space or know how to re-plate your rims with fresh chrome--that is an expensive job that requires complex skill and materials. You can, however, clean them, fill in and smooth out gashes or nicks, and paint over scratches. Because you drive around with them exposed to road debris, they will sooner or later get scratched, but you can get them looking practically new again.

Related Questions and Answers

What is the Average Alloy Wheel Refurbishment Cost?

Alloy wheel refurbishment cost will depend on how much damage there is, what size the wheel is, and whether or not you want the wheel cosmetically repaired as well as structurally repaired. For most wheels up to 18 inches in diameter that you wish to have structurally and cosmetically repaired, you can expect to pay in the area of $160 per wheel. If you only want the wheel structurally repaired, you can expect a bill of $120 per wheel. Welds larger than half an inch wide will cost on the average of an extra $50 per wheel. Structural and cosmetic repair of 20 and 21 inch wheels will cost an average of $200 each.

Where Can I find Cheap Chrome Rims and Tires?

You need some cheap chrome rims and tires for your car and don't know where to find them. Most large metropolitan areas have a number of shops that specialize in used wheels and other shops that specialize in used tires. Also, most salvage yards will have a selection of used wheels and tires that are legally usable, available for sale somewhere near the front counter. Also, most tire shops, if asked, will have a small selection of tires they have removed from customer cars they will be willing to sell. All of these locations can be found in your local yellow pages.

Who are the Most Popular Car Rim Companies?

There are literally a few dozen different rim companies in operation these days. A number of years ago, you had your choice from basically three or four popular companies. Centerline was popular with the muscle car crowd. American Racing was popular with some muscle car owners. Enkei was popular with the import tuner crowd. Now, there are so many different popular wheel makers than picking just from one or two. NASCAR fans will want to take a look at wheels made by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ford lovers will want wheels by Ford Racing. Enkei is still popular. And BBS is an up and coming wheel crafter.

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