Polishing ChromeRestoring the shine to smudgy bits
Chrome never goes out of style. Although it was less popular a few years ago when the trend was toward the "Euro" habit of painting all aspects of the car body, chrome is making a comeback. After all, it'd be a fashion felony to sport all that bling-bling around the neck and on the fingers with no light-bursts emanating from your ride.
The car care industry makes polishes that are formulated specifically to make chrome sparkle. They vary in intensity. Products that are labeled for "all chrome" are generally gentle and intended to remove smudges and small scratches, restoring that cornea-cooking brilliance. For bigger scratches and even rust, grittier chrome polishes (akin to jeweler's rouge) can help revive old bumpers and the like. However, these products' labels often warn that they may scratch softer surfaces, like those shiny new 23-inch chromed-spoker wheels.
In addition to the obvious parts such as wheels and bumpers, the gentler chrome polishes can also be used on mirrors, headlight and gauge bezels, that newfangled black chrome and even glass. Many of these products contain polymers that leave behind a protective residue to help ward off smudges and fingerprints. Chrome polish is available in both liquid and paste/cream.
Begin by reading the various products' labels. Then, select one or more that are compatible with the style and condition of the chrome you want to revive. The chromed areas should be washed so that additional grit won't be scraped across the finish during polishing. Let the car cool and park it in the garage or shade so that the polish won't dry too quickly.
Chrome polish can be applied a few different ways. The traditional favorite is a clean terrycloth towel. Other options are cotton polishing pads (cut in half if necessary to access difficult areas) or disposable cotton wipes. Apply the polish to the cotton applicator of choice then rub it on the chrome per the product's instructions. Work in small areas. Buff away the polish with a clean terrycloth towel as the cream hazes but before it completely dries out and hardens.
Finally, many of these products will also shine and protect other metals (such as aluminum and magnesium).