How To Remove Heavy Rust From Chrome? [Top 3 Methods Revealed]

I. Introduction

You adore your motorcycle and obviously want the chrome parts like silencer, mudguard, handlebar, and headlamp cover to look good and shine. However, since these parts are exposed to blowing wind, dirt, and rain, the chrome layer on the parts can be damaged and over time, heavy rust may appear on it.

So, how to remove heavy rust from chrome?

The first thing to understand is that the rust is not on the chrome, but on the steel below the layer of chrome. It is possible to remove the heavy rust from chrome and you can do it using the items normally available at home.

However, after removing the heavy rust, you have to inspect the chrome part and decide ‘if the part still looks nice and can be used as it is for more time?‘ or ‘if the chrome layer is peeled off at many places and using it as it is can make it rusty once again?‘. We will discuss this issue in detail in the course of this article.

II. How to remove heavy rust from chrome?

The chrome that you see on motorcycle parts like mudguard, silencer, handle, headlight, and other parts is a thin layer of chromium coated by a process called chrome plating. The parts are made of ordinary alloy steel but have a look of stainless steel due to the thin coating of chrome on them.

Since the motorcycle parts are exposed to blowing wind, dirt, and rain, very tiny pin holes or scratches may form on the chrome layer. These pin holes and scratches expose the metal below the chrome layer to moisture and oxygen in the air, and the exposed metal gets rusted.

The stain of the rust spreads to the surrounding areas. If immediate action is not taken, the area of the rust increases and looks ugly and this is how it looks heavily rusted.

The heavy rust from the chrome can be removed; however, there is no guarantee that the parts will get back to their original finish. Let us discuss the methods of removing heavy rust from chrome.

Method 1: Using aluminum foil

Aluminum is a softer metal than chromium and hence using it will not create scratches on the chrome plating. You can make a ball out of aluminum foil or use it as it is.

Items required:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Saltwater (cola or diet cola can also be used)
  • Soft cloth
  • Rubber gloves and eyeglasses (to wear)

Step 1: wear your rubber gloves and eyeglasses for safety. Clean the heavily rusted chrome part with soap water and a soft cloth, followed by clean water. The cleaning should remove dirt, oil, and debris, and the rusted area should be clearly visible.

Inspect the rusted area. If you observe large areas with chrome plating peeled off, then removing rust will not help and the only option is re-chrome plating. If you find the chrome layer intact, proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Dip the aluminum foil in salt water, and start gently rubbing the rusted area with back-and-forth movements. Dip the aluminum foil in salt water as frequently as required. Heavily rusted areas will require more rubbing.

Aluminum reacts with the rusted layer and this along with the rubbing friction helps to remove the rust from the area. The rubbing aluminum foil fills the tiny opened-up spots on the chrome layer and minimizes further rusting from those spots.

Wipe the rusted area with a cloth towel in between and this reveals the remaining rust to be cleaned.

Continue this process till you remove all the rust. You can use a new aluminum foil when the old one is worn out.

Once the rust is completely removed, wash the part with soap water followed by clean water, and wipe it dry. Allow the part to completely dry.

Inspect the part. If the part looks nice and shiny, and the exposed base metal is limited only to tiny points/scratches, continue to step 3.

However, if there are large areas of exposed base metal, you may use the part by compromising its appearance, or the other option is getting it re-chrome plated. The part can become rusty again if used as it is.

Inquire about the cost of re-chrome plating and analyze if buying a replacement part is more economical than going for re-chrome plating.

Step 3:  Apply a metal polish or wax on the chrome area as directed by its manufacturer. This will retard further rusting to some extent. However, regular cleaning and wax polishing is the only way to minimize rusting.

Method 2: Use mild acids available at home

Items required:

  • Lime juice mixed with salt (vinegar can also be used)
  • Soft cloth

Step 1: Same as in method 1.

Step 2: Apply the mix of lime juice and salt to the rusted area and allow 8 to 10 minutes for it to work. The mild acid in the lime juice or vinegar help break the rust faster and will not harm the surrounding area.

Note: A strong acid is harmful to your hands as well as to the surface of the chrome part, hence do not use it.

Take a soft cloth and rub gently on the rusted area. Clean the chrome area with soap water followed by clean water.

If the rust is still there, repeat the above cycle till the rust is removed.

Wash the chrome part with soap water followed by clean water, and wipe it dry with a clean towel. Allow the part to dry.

Inspect the part as discussed in step 2 of method 1. If you find the part good, proceed to step 3.

Step 3: Same as method 1.

Method 3: Use chrome and metal polish

Item required:

  • Chrome and metal polish
  • Clean and soft brass wool (soft steel wool can also be used)

This is a slightly costly method and you need to purchase a chrome polish. The plus point of a chrome polish is it promises to bring back the original shining to the chrome.

Step 1: Same as in method 1.

Step 2: You can apply and rub the chrome polish on the rusted area with clean brass wool or a soft polishing wheel. Ensure the brass wool is always wet with the chrome polish. Rub the rusted area gently with brass wool in circular motions without applying much pressure.

Wash the rusted area with soap water followed by clean water. Wipe the part dry.

Inspect the part and if you still find some rusted spots, repeat the process once again.

Wash the rusted area with soap water followed by clean water. If the rust is removed completely, wipe the part with a clean towel and allow it to dry.

Inspect the part as discussed in step 2 of method 1. If the part is nice and good to look at, it can be used.

III. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

1 How can I protect my motorcycle chrome parts from rusting once again?
After removing the rust from the chrome part, apply a layer of chrome polish to safeguard the chrome layer.

Clean your motorcycle and the chrome parts regularly and apply a layer of chrome polish after drying the chrome-plated parts.

2 What is the reason for the rusting of chrome parts of my motorcycle?
The chrome parts are made of ordinary alloy steel, but they are given a thin layer of chrome by the chrome plating process, to protect the part from rusting and also to make it shine and look good.

When the chrome layer of your motorcycle mudguard or handlebar is struck with debris in the wind and gets a scratch or tiny holes on the chrome layer, the metal below is exposed to moisture and oxygen in the air and this is how rusting starts.

IV. Conclusion

The chrome parts on your motorcycle enhance the aesthetic of your motorcycle, but rusting of the chrome parts will spoil the look. However, if you clean your motorcycle regularly and apply the recommended chrome polish or wax on the chrome parts, it is possible to make them last longer.

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