So you’ve dinged, scratched, or have some unsightly pitting or rusting occurring on your chrome bumper. Gravel, small rocks, salt, and other debris makes chrome pretty easy to rust and show signs of wear if not protected. The good news is there are a few ways to conceal these unsightly imperfections without completely re-chroming or replacing your bumper.
In this blog, I’ll share 3 simple ways to cover (or repair) chipped chrome on your bumper. The same process generally applied to other surfaces like rims as well. Keep in mind that these are simply suggestions, and to proceed at your own risk when attempting any DIY repairs.
Concealing Small Chips in Chrome
Assuming you have a very small chip or two and not a large surface, prepping with a rust remover or polish may be the simplest and most effective way to restore the overall appearance. Especially if you have very minor rusting, it’s usually best to try a polish before trying any other advanced methods. It obviously won’t replace the chrome, but can remove rust and bring your bumper back to life if rust is your main concern.
The process of painting over chrome is quite extensive since you will need to clean, degrease, apply primer, as well as a chrome spray product as mentioned in option 3.
Option 1: Try chrome polish with rust remover
I found this product by Turtle Wax on Amazon you can try made specifically for this application. To apply, follow these steps:
- Step One: Make sure the surface is clean and free of debris before applying product.
- Step Two: Shake well and apply a small amount with an applicator or soft cloth to affected area.
- Step 3: Wait until the product is dry and forms a haze on the surface
- Step 4: Wipe away with a soft cloth and buff to a shine
Option 2: Liquid chrome marker
If you still have imperfections that you couldn’t conceal with option 1, you may want to try applying the Molotow Liquid Chrome Marker. You can pick on up on Amazon in a couple of different sizes, and from what I’ve read is the best thing you can use for small nicks here and there.
It’s actually used for building model cars and writing, but some have said it does the best job at mimicking the natural reflective surface of chrome. Chrome is pretty difficult to match perfectly, but this product may be the closest to natural chrome you can get.
Option 3: Chrome Spray Paint
If you have a larger surface, you may want to try a product called Spaz Stix. Spaz Stix is water-based, and meant for RC cars but works well for small chips. With any paint that you use, be careful before applying a clear coat on top, since this may actually dull the finish. Applying chrome paint is somewhat of an art form, so you may want to practice on a spoon or other metal surface before attempting to touch up a spot or two.
There are many chrome paints you can try, like Testers (CS) Chrome Silver that some have said work well also. Chrome paints should be used to only hide imperfections, not for completely re-coating. Just be sure to tape off the affected area and avoid overspraying.
If All Else Fails…a Last Resort
If all else fails, re-plating your chrome bumper is obviously the best option, but can be expensive depending on the size of your vehicle’s bumper. Environmental regulations have made it pretty difficult to make chroming super-affordable, but there are still shops out there that can do it. Make sure you research an accredited plating shop and get a few quotes.
Another consideration is the quality of the chrome you are looking to get re-plated. Low-grade chroming is pretty common for auto makers these days and re-chroming may not be worth it.
For bumpers, expect to pay around $400 or higher, depending on if you decide to double plate or triple-plate. Triple-plating consists of copper, nickel and chrome and is said to look the best. EPA regulations may make it difficult to find shops that can do this. You may need to mail your bumper to a chrome plater depending on where you live.
Replacing chrome parts
On the other hand, it may be easier to simply replace your bumper altogether. eBay Motors is notorious for having a great new and pre-owned parts selection and Amazon’s Automotive Parts and Accessories section makes it easy to look up chrome replacement parts based on your vehicle’s make and model.
Mimicking chrome with tape
Probably the easiest method I’ve heard about (and used personally for an old winter beater) is chrome tape. You can pick up a roll of automotive-grade chrome tape for under 10 bucks that works pretty well for concealing imperfections on trim pieces.
I’ve used it on a couple of headlight trim pieces where I didn’t feel like trying to re-paint or touch up the area.
Painting over chrome with another color
Another option that you can attempt (at your own risk) is to paint on top of your chrome bumper in a different color, like a matte black or other color. I would highly advise having a body shop do this for you, but if you have an older model vehicle there are some DIY tutorials I’ve found. This video details the entire process for a bumper:
You can also refer to this DIY article for everything you need to know about prepping chrome bumper for paint.
To conclude, replacing chrome is usually one of the more cost-effective methods I’ve found for smaller pieces like door handles or grills (assuming you can find parts). Many automakers are doing away with chrome altogether in favor of other materials to avoid rusting or pitting, so just make sure the surface is actually chrome and not a polished stainless steel.
Protecting your chrome
Water is the ultimate culprit for why chrome rusts, so applying a protective barrier like a good high-quality wax can help prevent water from eventually pitting and rusting. You can use carnauba wax if you already have it, but a good sealant is probably the most effective method for protecting against rust.
A cool product made by Chemical Guys called Jetseal that was designed for the aerospace industry to prevent corrosion that I have heard works wonders. You can read up on the entire process here if you are looking to keep your chrome looking great for as long as possible.
You may also want to check out an article I wrote on fixing and preventing rock chips if your paint is taking a beating as well, especially for trucks, SUVs, or larger vehicles.
Have any other tips or suggestions that have worked for you for hiding chips or blemishes in chrome? Leave a comment below!