Chrome wheels are among the most popular aftermarket additions people make to their vehicles. It's easy to see why. Clean, polished chrome wheels have a mirror finish that attracts attention. To keep chrome wheels looking good, a little regular maintenance is in order.
First of all, it helps to know what you're cleaning and polishing. Chrome is a very soft metal. It's used to coat other metals because of its beautiful finish. But you'll never see anything made entirely of chromium because it just wouldn't hold up well. However, because chrome is relatively soft, it responds very well to polishing. Your elbow grease will be rewarded with incredibly shiny, reflective chrome wheels (or exhaust tips, trim, and any other chrome surface).
Brake dust is made of an adhesive and carbon fibers that come off the brake pad and tiny metal shavings from the rotor. The intense heat and friction generated by the wheels makes this mixture highly corrosive. Because you probably drive every day, more brake dust is constantly being made. Frequent cleaning is the only way to keep your wheels safe. Again, chrome is soft. Brake dust can penetrate and pit chrome wheels in no time. You have to keep them clean and protected in order to maintain their shine.
Use a Speed Master Wheel Brush to clean wheels without scratching.
Towel dry each wheel after cleaning to prevent water spots.
We recommend cleaning the wheels before washing your vehicle. Cleaning wheels first will prevent brake dust and dirty water from splashing onto a clean car.
Use a Mothers PowerBall MD to polish between spokes. Avoid wool polishing balls on chrome wheels. The Mother's Mini PowerBall MD is an abrasive tool and should be used to remove imperfections on your wheels.
Choosing a metal polish for chrome is interesting. Chrome wheels technically are coated but they're coated with metal. It's not quite the same as being coated with clear coat or paint. Chrome is tougher than that. Many metal polishes that can be used on aluminum or steel can also be used on chrome. It's just a matter of reading the label to determine if a product is safe on chrome.
*Note: Plastic chrome wheels or plastic chrome trim is not real chrome! The same rules do not apply. Plastic with a chrome finish should be treated like plastic, not metal.
Optimum Metal Polish, 3M Chrome and Metal Polish, and Wenol Blue are all excellent choices for polishing chrome. Chrome can tarnish and rust, unlike clear coated alloy, so these polishes are equipped to remove oxidation.
For the best results, apply metal polishes to the wheels with a polishing tool, such as Mothers PowerBall Polishing Tool, the Mothers PowerCone Polishing Tool, or the Flitz Polishing Ball. Both will give you the consistent speed and power needed to effectively polish wheels.
Apply a coat of BLACKFIRE SiO2 Wheel Seal to protect wheels from brake dust.
Once your chrome wheels are clean and dry, apply a quality wheel protectant like BLACKFIRE SiO2 Wheel Seal or Wheel Wax to seal the wheel surface. These products work just like car wax. Apply them with an applicator pad and then buff the wheel. They keep your wheels looking shiny, and they prevent brake dust adhesion. These products dry clear, like a wax, so they will not diminish the shine of chrome wheels. Your wheels look cleaner longer. You have to reapply these products weekly, but it's better than scrubbing your wheels every two days. The good news is, if you use a wheel wax as recommended, water is the only thing you need to clean your wheels between waxings.
Choose your tire dressing carefully. Old-fashioned tire dressings contain silicone, which produces a glossy shine but they turn brown over time. In fact, shiny silicone tire dressings can attract dirt. These dressings deplete the rubber's plasticizers faster, causing it to age prematurely. Newer formulas, like Pinnacle Black Onyx Tire Gel, Optimum Opti-Bond Tire Gel, or Pinnacle Black Label Tire Clear Coat are water-based and less shiny, but less shiny is the concours look you want. These dressings create the look of new tires with a semi-gloss sheen that doesn't turn brown. Pinnacle Black Onyx Tire Gel also nourishes the rubber to recreate the look of new tires. You can often layer water-based dressings to get a glossier shine. Follow the directions on the label carefully. Always apply thin coats and allow drying time before you drive your vehicle. Even the best dressing will sling off if it's on too thick or it doesn't have time to dry. Avoid pooling of the dressing around raised letters and white walls.