Tools and Materials
- Soft cloth
- Rubbing alcohol
- Chrome rim paint
- Small paint brush
- Buffing cloth
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.