Metal and Chrome Polishing – Essentials of Auto Detailing


In our previous blogs, we have explained various automobile detailing procedures and highlighted how to protect the vehicle’s paint. However, the appearance of the metal portions are just as important for the overall look of your vehicle as the paint. Vehicle detailing is incomplete without getting the metal trim, bumpers, and wheels polished.

You may ask why metal polishing is essential. The simple answer to this is to prevent the metal portions from rusting. If the spread of rust is not controlled at the right time, the continuous corrosion can destroy the metals beyond repair. Metal polishing gives a high glossy shine to your vehicle as it takes care of water spots and other stains.

We can see chrome finish on various cars and motorcycles. Vehicle manufacturers have been using chrome since long because it has the ability to resist corrosion, and it also gives the machine a glossy and shiny look.

Automobile enthusiasts around the world will tell you that shiny chrome surfaces make the vehicle look more slick and stylish. Chrome polish is used on metal surfaces to keep them clean, rust-free, and streak-free.

Chrome Plating

Chrome Plating is a process used to coat various metal surfaces in chromium through electroplating procedure. Use of chromium improves the overall look of a vehicle as it is a shiny, bright, and reflective metal that is highly decorative, corrosive resistant, and eases cleanliness. It also increases the hardness of the surface, depending on what the underlying foundation is made of.

Chrome-plated products are expensive. Once plated, the chrome has the tendency to deteriorate pretty quickly if not taken care of appropriately.

A good quality chrome polish is the one that helps in restoring chrome to its original sheen and at the same time adding new life and appearance to objects that have been chrome plated. Oxidation is considered the biggest enemy for all metals. Rusting, discoloration, bluing, pitting, stains, flaking, and other metal problems are all results of oxidation. An ideal chrome polish is the one that is not petroleum-based and still capable of resisting and removing oxidation.

Benefits of Chrome Polish

  • You can be assured that the steel underneath is protected – Car manufacturers around the globe use chrome because of its resistance to oxidation that is much higher than other metals. But having said that, you cannot assume that chrome is rust-free. If you have protected the chrome with polish, it will ensure that the metal underneath does not deteriorate because of rusting.
  • It can be applied on multiple surfaces – Application of chrome polishes need not be limited to chrome surfaces. Other metals like gold, silver, steel, and aluminum can also be given a great shine through chrome polish. It would not be wrong to say that chrome polish is all-purpose metal polish.
  • You do not need a separate cleaner – Yes! This is true that chrome polish also acts as a chrome cleaner. Chrome polish is used by automobile detailers to clean the chrome and other metal surfaces while restoring the shine of your vehicle.
  • You can keep your vehicle looking new – Fading of chrome wheels and bumpers is a normal phenomenon as your vehicle gets older. It happens because of exposure to environmental elements. With chrome polishing, you can prevent the chrome from looking dull and dirty, and you can always give a glossy look to your vehicle.
  • A protective shield against elements – Chrome polishes not only adds to the shine but also increases the life of the chrome surfaces. This is due to the fact that it acts as a shield against destructive elements.
  • Expect your vehicle to be appreciated always – The purpose of chrome polish is to give a newer look to the chrome surfaces on your vehicle. If you follow a proper schedule for getting your vehicle chrome polished, you would possibly get habitual of receiving great reviews from whosever looking at your vehicle.

Disadvantages of Chrome Polishing

  • Chrome polishing requires a lot of care. Once you have got the metal surfaces polished, regular cleaning and maintenance is required so that the polish can last long.
  • If the chrome polishing is done insufficiently, it can result in cracks on the chrome surface.
  • The chemicals used in metal or chrome polishing are a little harmful to the human skin. So a great amount of expertise is needed to apply these polishes. It is advisable that you do not treat it as a DIY task.

Types of Chrome Polish

Different types of chrome polish is recommended for various chrome surfaces. Let us understand this.


If you want a quick and effective way to polish chrome, Liquid chrome polish is ideal. Though not suited for surface level jobs, it is still the most popular form of polish because of its easy-to-apply characteristic. It cleans the chrome very effectively but will not restore chrome surfaces that have already been faded or corroded.


This type of chrome polish is recommended for deeper levels of cleaning and polishing. Cream polish is stickier, and this characteristic makes them more effective as compared to the liquid form. Chrome surfaces that have faded, damaged, or have accumulated surface-level rust can be treated through the cream polish. This form of polish is extensively used by professional automotive detailers.


The paste form of chrome polish is far thicker than the liquid and cream forms. Though its application requires a lot of effort, it is considered to be the best type of chrome polish. An expert automotive detailer knows that paste form of chrome polish comprises of very strong ingredients and should only be used for the most difficult chrome finish restoration.

Use of Steel Wool

Professional detailers come across metal surfaces that have never been polished or cleaned. In such cases, just using a metal polish isn’t always enough. They use steel wool and a metal polishing compound to remove tough grime, dirt, and carbon build-up. Steel wool helps in additional scrubbing and polishing. This is followed by machine buffing.

Depending upon how dirty the surface is, detailers decide whether to use steel wool and buffing both or just one of them.

Difference between the metal surface and chrome surface (for automobiles)

When we talk about the metal surface on an automobile, we are referring to the components made out of metals (like engine components of Royal Enfield bikes) other than chrome. If not chrome, you would mainly find surfaces made of stainless steel in automobiles.

Mostly, the bright and decorative items fastened on vehicles are chrome surfaces such as wheels of Royal Enfield bikes. In industrial terms, the chrome surface is achieved when the steel goes through several plating processes. This is done so that your vehicle (bike or car) can withstand the weather and temperature changes. In the automobile industry, one of the most durable processes is the Triple Plating. In this process, the steel is first plated with copper and then with nickel before applying chrome plating.


It is a fact that the automobile industry has been using a lot of chrome. However, the usage has dipped lately because of the tendency of chrome surfaces to deteriorate rather quickly. We can now see more of aluminum and plastic, which does not deteriorate so quickly. If we look for vehicles around us that are 2-3 years old, we will find that most of them have chrome surfaces that are rusting or deteriorating. The extent of corrosion depends on how the vehicle is being cared for.

Chrome Wrapping

Vehicle wrapping is a very common practice world-wide. It basically refers to giving a durable vinyl covering to the car’s paint. The two most popular vinyl wrappings are Chrome Car Wrapping and Matte Wrapping.

Matte wrapping is subtle, sleek and non-reflective. Chrome wrapping, on the other hand, gives a mirror-like reflectiveness to your car. It is shiny and the finish is almost like looking at a real chrome.

Chrome wrapping provide a good amount of resistance to ordinary contaminants like oil, dirt, salt, grease, and water. However, the main purpose of chrome wrapping is to give a newer, glossy look to your vehicle rather than expecting paint protection.

Some tips

  • Before polishing a chrome surface that has already rusted, make sure the rust is scrubbed-off as much as possible. This is essential for the polish to get maximum penetration. An experienced detailing expert would know how to do this. A steel wool brush is usually used for this purpose.
  • Though you will notice the effect of chrome polish immediately after it is applied, in some cases, the chrome’s luster may be visible after two to three coats.
  • Chrome polish works on many metals like aluminum, stainless steel, gold, silver, brass, and even copper. However, it can be harmful to certain metals. An automotive detailer would know what surfaces a chrome polish is good to be applied on.
  • Applying a layer of wax on top of the chrome polish can add an extra layer of protection to the chrome. It can also enhance the shine.
  • For cleaning a chrome polished surface, always use a soft cloth with some water.


Every metal is prone to corrosion and oxidation. Some metals deteriorate faster than others when exposed to environmental elements. Metals such as chrome and stainless steel are preferred choice for car manufacturers because of their longevity and aesthetic value. However, keeping them protected is also essential. Polishing is one way of keeping metal and chrome surfaces safe.

While taking your vehicle for its regular service, always take some time out to inspect whether the metal or chrome surfaces need polishing. Your auto detailer can propose a polishing schedule for you. Follow this schedule in order to maintain the shiny looks of your vehicle. Some chrome polish are capable of handling tougher jobs than others. Choose the right polish for your vehicle as recommended by the detailer, else you would end up damaging the chrome.

For the professional metal & chrome polishing of your vehicle, you can contact us.

Metal and Chrome Polishing – Essentials of Auto Detailing
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