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Summary
  • Rechroming is a long and complex process that includes cleaning and dipping a specific part into a vat of chromium-based solution. It involves stripping away old chrome, nickel, and copper before applying a new chrome finish.
  • In electroplating, an electrical current is used to dissolve the chromium atoms, which “plates” them onto the surface.
  • People often chrome plate their bumpers, headers, and grilles.

Steel and other metals are naturally strong, but giving them an extra layer of protection can never hurt. This is where rechroming comes in. Most people think chrome plating is all about making your vehicle’s metal parts sleek and shiny, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what chroming is.

What Is Rechroming?

Much like chrome plating, rechroming is a long and complex process that includes cleaning and dipping a specific part into a vat of chromium-based solution. However, rechroming specifically involves stripping away old chrome, nickel, and copper before applying a new chrome finish.

How Does Rechroming Work?

Restoring old chrome starts with a thorough inspection of the part you wish to rechrome. The chrome shop will typically assess the part for any wear and corrosion before they start with the pre-plating process. Then, they strip away any dirt by cleaning the component with water and chemicals before grinding and polishing it.

The entire process will depend on the type of material being plated, but what typically comes next is electroplating. In this stage, an electrical current is used to dissolve the chromium atoms, which “plates” them onto the surface. The longer the chrome plating specialist leaves the part in the solution, the thicker the plating turns out.

What Are Popular Vehicles for Rechroming?

In the 1900s, the popularity of chrome plating was at its peak. Almost everybody wanted chrome-plated parts and equipment because of their improved durability and protection against wear and corrosion.

Today, however, opinions on rechromed cars are mixed. For many, only classic cars from the 1940s to the 1960s look good with chrome, while modern cars don’t look too flattering with polished metal. However, you can still find plenty of modern cars with chrome plates, so it all comes down to personal taste. Here are some examples of vehicles you can commonly find with chrome plates:

What Are Popular Car Parts for Rechroming?

You don’t have to chrome plate all the metal parts of your vehicle, but there are plenty to choose from if you’re interested in chroming. Here are a few examples of common chromed parts:

Bumpers and Headers

Rechromed bumpers and headers typically have greater corrosion resistance, so they’re less likely to rust even after frequent exposure to rain or snow.

Wheels

Among the most common chrome-plated parts, wheels are typically at the top of the list. Rechromed wheels have an extra layer of protection against all the dirt and debris from the road.

Grilles

Your vehicle’s grilles are also prone to corrosion damage. Much like your bumper, they’re constantly exposed to the elements, dirt, and other debris. Chrome plating can help grilles last longer while giving them that attractive polished metal look.

Types of Chrome Plating

There are two types of chrome plating, and they primarily differ in two things: the thickness of the chrome plating and their purpose. Here’s a closer look at the types of chrome plating: 

Hard Chrome Plating

Also known as industrial or engineered chrome plating, hard chrome plating is typically used for large, steel parts, such as hydraulic cylinder rods and piston rings. This type of chrome plating creates a heavy layer of chromium to provide high resistance to corrosion and lengthen the lifespan of expensive metal parts.

Decorative Chrome Plating

Just like hard chrome plating, decorative chrome plating also protects parts against rust and wear. However, it provides a much thinner coating and therefore less strength and durability than hard chrome.

Because of this, decorative chrome plating is mostly reserved for smaller consumer products, such as kitchen utensils, musical instruments, and hardware tools. It’s also great for various automotive parts, such as bumpers, trims, and grilles.

How Much Does Rechroming Cost?

The cost of rechroming varies depending on several factors, but in general, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $2,500. Bigger parts typically cost more than smaller parts. For example, the cost to rechrome a bumper is likely to be more expensive than refinishing the chrome of a door handle.

How Often Should You Refinish Chrome?

With the proper care and maintenance, your vehicle’s chrome can last for years. Most chrome shops recommend cleaning your car every 7 to 15 days, but this can vary depending on how often you drive, where you live, and other factors.

Always remember that chrome is a soft metal, which means it can easily be damaged if you use harsh chemicals or rough fabrics to clean it. As much as possible, use a soft microfiber cloth and a chrome cleaner to remove dirt and other debris.

Applying a coat of wax can also protect your chrome from scratches and repel water from sticking to it.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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