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You obviously want the chrome parts on your motorcycle to look good and shine.
Since these parts are exposed to blowing wind, dirt, and rain, the chrome layer on some of your bike’s parts can be damaged and over time. Heavy rust may appear.
So, how do you 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.
But luckily, it is possible to remove the heavy rust from chrome, and you can do it pretty successfully using items normally available at home.
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 in many places and using it as it is can make it rusty once again. We will discuss this issue in detail below.
How to Remove Heavy Rust From Chrome
The chrome that you see on motorcycle parts like the mudguard, muffler, handlebars, headlight housing, rims, 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’s part are exposed to the elements, 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 grows. This is how the parts start looking 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’s discuss the methods of removing heavy rust from chrome.
Method 1: Using Aluminum Foil
Aluminum is a softer metal than chromium and 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.
- Aluminum foil.
- Saltwater (cola or diet cola can also be used).
- Soft cloth.
- Rubber gloves and eyeglasses.
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 initial 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 or cola, 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 can help minimize further rusting from those spots.
Wipe the rusted area with a cloth towel to reveal any remaining rust to be cleaned.
Continue this process until you remove all the rust that you can. 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.
Ask 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 help prevent further rusting to some extent.
However, regular cleaning and wax polishing is the only way to minimize rusting long term.
Method 2: Use Mild Acids to Remove Rust
- Lime juice mixed with salt (vinegar can also be used to remove rust).
- Soft cloth.
Step 1: Clean and prepare the rusty part. Remove all dirt and grime. Inspect the areas that have rusted.
Step 2: Apply the mix of lime juice and salt to the rusted area and allow 8 to 10 minutes for it to sit.
The mild acid in the lime juice or vinegar help break down the rust faster, but 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. 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.
Step 3: Apply a metal polish to further protect the part.
Method 3: Use Chrome and Metal Polish
- Chrome and metal polish.
- Clean and soft brass wool (soft steel wool can also be used).
This is a slightly more expensive method and you need to purchase a chrome polish.
Step 1: Clean and prepare the parts.
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 and 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 soapy 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.
How can I protect my chrome parts from rusting 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.
Why do chrome parts rust?
The chrome parts are made of ordinary alloy steel, but they are given a thin layer of chrome by the chrome plating process. This is to protect the part from rusting and to make it shine.
When the chrome layer is struck with debris in the wind and gets a scratch or tiny holes, the metal below is exposed to moisture and oxygen in the air. This is how rusting starts.
The chrome parts on your motorcycle enhance the aesthetic of your motorcycle, but rusting of the chrome parts will spoil the look.
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.