Clean Chrome Rims Pitted

How To Clean Chrome Rims That Are Pitted

Everyone adores a car that has shiny chrome rims. That’s why chrome is a popular choice for most motorists. This material loses its shine fast the moment it starts pitting, which is one of the most common downsides of chrome.

The good news is that you can fix up and clean pitted chrome to make your rims look as good as new. But you need to start as soon as you notice the rims changing their appearance; otherwise, you may not be able to fix it if you ignore it for too long. So how do you go about maintaining your chrome rims?

Your answer lies by following the ultimate guide on how to clean chrome rims that are pitted.

  • Clean the chrome surface thoroughly.
  • Polish the chrome rims.
  • Reapply clear coat on the chrome rims.
  • Prevent chrome pitting on the rims.

Clean Chrome Rims Pitted

Clean the Chrome Surface Thoroughly Using Dish Soap

To fix the pitted chrome rims, you need to clean their surfaces thoroughly. The cleaning helps to get rid of dirt and debris that might cause a chemical reaction when you polish or apply the new clear coating. While cleaning, be on the lookout for cracks or scratches on the chrome rims to prevent further damage.

With that in mind, lets get prepared with the appropriate washing equipment. You will need:

  • Warm water.
  • A piece of microfiber cloth.
  • Dish detergent.
  • Steel wool or sandpaper.
  • Clear coating.

Take a soft cotton cloth or a piece of microfiber cloth, warm water, and dish soap and use them to clean the surface of the chrome rims. Apply in tight, circular motions to give the rims a thorough clean up.

If you encounter stubborn stains, use steel wool or sandpaper to remove them gently. Be careful not to make scratches on the chrome surface because they may worsen the situation.

Dry the rims and apply some clear coat with the help of a coating cloth to give your rims a shiny finish.

You may think you need vinegar to clean pitted chrome rims, but vinegar is naturally acidic and could further damage the chrome surface. Using dish soap is the correct choice of cleaning agents to use on your rims.

How To Clean Chrome Rims That Are Pitted Using At-Home Remedies

Home-made remedies can also clean chrome rims that are pitted and work very well. For this option, you need clean water and baking soda.

Mix the two until you have a paste-like mixture. Use this paste to remove dirt from your chrome rims using the above methods; this is a simple and affordable technique to keep your car wheels looking brand new.

Another easy at-home remedy is the aluminum foil method. As the name suggests, this cleaning technique involves aluminum foil and water. Immerse a piece of aluminum foil in clean water and use it to rub against the pitted chrome surface of your rims. The foil will get rid of any rust or stain found on the rims, leaving the chrome surface looking clean and shiny.

Polish Pitted Chrome Rims

Another way to maintain your chrome rims is to polish them regularly. Once you’re done cleaning your pitted chrome rims, the next step should be to give them a nice look.

Before you start polishing, run your fingernail along the pitted surface to assess the level of damage and find out if there are tiny scratches left behind during the initial cleaning.

If you come across anything that compromises the quality of your cleaning or the appearance of your rims, you should reach out for some 8000-grit sandpaper or 0000-grade fine steel wool. Gently rub down the scratched area until smooth and brush off any debris before polishing.

Apply a layer of metal polish over your chrome rims with a rag, working in small sections. Then, using a clean cloth and some elbow grease, start buffing away until your chrome rims are shiny enough to see your reflection.

When polishing a pitted surface, do it in a gentle, circular motion followed by rewashing the surface. If the pitting is severe, use steel wool during your second round of polishing. If the pitting is exceptionally light, you may use aluminum foil to act as an abrasive polishing tool that will make the rims shiny and appealing.

Apply Clear Coat on the Chrome Rims


Applying a clear coat is the most important step in this cleaning guide. This coat plays a significant role in keeping away dirt and preventing scratches on the chrome rims.

Unfortunately, this is the most overlooked step during the routine maintenance of chrome rims. Keep in mind that the main reason why pitting happens is that the original clear coat isn’t doing its job anymore. Also, when you remove the pitting, you’re interfering with the integrity of the rest of the original clear coat.

So you have to restore it after cleaning and treating the pitted rims. If not, you will experience more pitting within a short time following the cleaning process. You should apply a clear coat as soon as possible to give your rims an everlasting new look and protection.

Shake-up the can to mix thoroughly, spray a very light coat at first to prevent any runs, and allow to cure for 10-15 minutes. Then apply a second heavier coat while still trying to avoid any runs or overspray.

If you’re unfortunate enough to get a run when spraying, do not try to correct it straight away. Allow the clear coat to completely dry, then with a sharp razor blade, carefully slice off the run. Lightly sand the area, and apply a third coat. Be aware that you have around 48 hours before the spray becomes unusable once you’ve activated the can.

Prevent Chrome Pitting

Once you have cleaned and treated all existing pitting from your chrome rims, you want to prevent it from happening again. The best way to achieve this goal is by keeping the chrome rims clean throughout. How do you go about this?

Make Sure To Clean Your Chrome Rims Regularly

Brake dust, rainwater, and salt can affect the clear coat on the rims. These elements can be corrosive and are known to expose the metal underneath the chrome, causing the pitting effect. For that reason, you must wash the rims regularly to protect the chrome coating on them. Avoid using any harsh cleansing agent because it can interfere with your wheel rim’s protective layer.

Use Ultraviolet (UV) and Rust Protectant

Good quality UV protectant should come in handy to prevent chrome pitting on your car’s rims. This type of solution will prevent the sun from affecting or damaging the clear coating on the rims. You can also go for one of the rust prevention agents to provide an additional protection layer to your wheels.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Do I Ensure That My Chrome Rims Are Always in Good Condition?

There are many ways you can keep your rims looking great. You can wipe them down using rim polish. You can perform this task weekly to make sure that the chrome rims remain dry to keep away rust.

You may also apply some polish to keep pitting and rusting at bay, especially when storing the wheels across the summer period. It’s always a good idea to keep checking your wheels to ensure that your rims are dry and in good condition, ready for when winter arrives.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Maintain My Chrome Rims?

If you don’t maintain your chrome rims properly, they will corrode at the valve stem and bead, cause air leaks to your tires, lose shine, and develop pitting and peel away to expose the metal structure beneath. Once the rim is exposed, it will not last long, and it will force you to replace it immediately; this is an expense that you can avoid by simply keeping your chrome rims clean and free of pitting.

Why Should I Clean My Chrome Rims and Wheels Before Washing My Car?

You should clean your rims and wheels first, before washing your car, so dirty water and brake dust doesn’t make your vehicle dirty. Also, clean the chrome rims when they’re cool to avoid any damage.

What Could Be the Cause Of Pitting?

Pitting comes about when the chromium on the rims becomes unstable when exposed to oxygen. Exposure to oxygen leads to the formation of an oxidation layer. It’s this oxidation that contributes to a pitted chrome rim. That’s the reason you need to keep chrome rims clean and dry all the time.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to keeping your pitted chrome rims clean, nothing should stand in your way. You just need to apply a few cleaning techniques to maintain their appearance. By using a combination of dish soap, fine-grit sandpaper, metal polish, and a clear coat, you can clean and treat pitted wheels, restoring the condition of your chrome rims.

The biggest appeal of your vehicle is the shine on the rims. Sadly, pitting can take that sparkly appearance away if you don’t take action to stop it. All you need is a little work to bring back that look.

Keep on top of your chrome rims; a little maintenance of your car’s rims can be a game-changer for years to come. Remember to clean your rims regularly, keep them protected, and keep them dry.