After another year of driving your vehicle’s chrome trim looks worse for wear, right?
To restore your vehicle’s brightwork, takes patience, skill and the right tools. The weather and road conditions in and around Madison WI are not kind. Chrome-plated, polished aluminum, stainless steel or anodized, trim needs brightening now and then.
Stains are the No. 1 reason your car’s paint and trim needs attention. Most are from water spots. Water you apply is clean and easy to deal with. Water splashed on from the road or falling from the sky is not.
When you wash your vehicle always use a specialized washing liquid. Never dishwashing soap it can cause aluminum and chrome to oxidize. Remove excess water with a microfiber towel. There’s very little better for removing dirt and grime than a good spray from a garden hose. You don’t need a pressure washer. A pro’s trick is to blow high-pressure air into cracks and crevasses so no water remains to rust or corrode edges.
Protecting Chrome Trim Easier Than Restoring
Permanent blemishes tarnishing the shining trim on your vehicle not only reduce its value, they’re frustrating to look at. Chrome is easy to keep cleaning and shiny. It just takes time. In today’s world, that’s one thing few of us have a lot of.
Road grime is the major contributor to corrosion everywhere on your vehicle. And, the quick-n-easy drive through car washes don’t do trim parts any favors, either.
On most cars today the common chromed parts are bumpers and wheels. Both parts are directly in contact with road debris and spray.
Once brightwork gets tarnished or fogged, it’s best to team with professionals to restore it to its like-new gleam. It takes special, pH-balanced cleaning agents and buffing tools. If it gets pitted or scratched making new again is expensive and difficult.
Keep Your Vehicle Trim Clean
An effort to keep your car’s brightwork clean is the first step in protecting chromed and polished and brushed metal surfaces. Plain water and car-wash soap is the cheapest, least-corrosive option. An at home car wash is a simple process. You need:
- A bucket to hold a warm water washing liquid mix.
- A spray bottle with the same mixture for getting into cracks and carcasses.
- A soft, non-abrasive sponge and/or clothes to scrub with.
- Hint – a soft-bristle toothbrush or pot-cleaning tool from the kitchen sink helps get into crannies and cracks a sponge won’t.
When you’ve scrubbed, rinse thoroughly and dry with soft, microfiber cloth or shammy. Don’t let the car dry in the sun.
For tough dirt try a mixture pf 5% white vinegar and warm water in the spray bottle. Because it is slightly acidic this mix works well on oily grime. Be advised, it has a tell-tale smell. Cleaning your chrome trim with vinegar is never the first step. Always wash the surfaces with water and soap first to avoid scratching. Never use a higher concentrate than 5%, it is an acid and too much is never good.
A professional car wash and detailing is always preferred. But regular at-home cleaning is the first line of defense. Even a drive-through wash, in most cases, is better than nothing.
Another pro’s suggestion – don’t rely upon automatic dryers in the drive-through wash to do the job. It is always best to dry polish your metal trim, especially bumpers, rims and wheels. Left to air-dry, chrome almost always shows water spot. These spots not only look bad, dirt, oil and grime stick to them. They’re a step toward corrosion.
Trim Cleaning Tips From The Pros
Professional auto body shop technicians have tools and training to protect you vehicle’s metal trim and paint surfaces. While a complete detailing once or twice a year is ideal, you don’t need the “works” to protect your investment. Among the tools of the trade the pros have are:
- Iron-remover spray – for cleaning chrome wheels or aluminum wheels. The special iron-removing spray dissolves embedded brake dust. Brake dust is an ugly brown deposit that binds to grit, grime or debris and leads to pitting and corrosion.
- Clay bar – a clay bar is very effective on chrome and aluminum wheels. It’s a specially-formulated clay product. It picks up particles a rag or sponge doesn’t. It also adds a shine. It’s best used with a special detailer’s spray to prevent scratches.
- Buffing tool – a polishing wheel that can get into every angle on wheels, bumpers and even smaller trim with equal pressure.
Each these items are available for a do-it-yourselfer, without the training and experience. Trial and error is never a good approach to a valuable investment like a car, truck or SUV. (keeping chrome parts showroom-new makes sense for motorcycles, too!)
When you’re washing your vehicle at home, consider these “Don’ts:”
- Never use a cleaning solution (soap) not specifically designed for chrome, metal trim or automotive paint.
- Resist the urge to use any kind of scouring pad you have in the kitchen.
- While products marketed as “chrome cleaners” are available a car wash-approved soap, warm water and a mild vinegar solution are safer. If you need serious cleaning give AutoColor a call.
Skilled Pros Protect Chrome Trim
The winter’s coating of ice-melting chemicals, salt and sand should be washed off the roads by now. But the threat to chrome, aluminum and metallic trim isn’t gone. Continue to protect your investment with:
- Regular car washes
- Dry the vehicle even after and drive-through wash, never allow it to air dry
- Protect surfaces with quality wax
- Clean off stains, droppings and debris
- Invest in professional detailing 2-3 times a year
AutoColor car care professionals service vehicles inside and outside. Visit our Madison area locations – West on Parmenter Road in Middleton and East on Stoughton Road. We’ll top off a professional car wash with skilled detailing. Call AutoColor and take advantage of our trained technicians to protect or restore chrome trim in the Madison WI area.