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Cleaning Your Car's Chrome

There's nothing better looking on a car than nice, clean, shiny chrome. It accents bumpers, wheels, and window lines in many vehicles. Shiny chrome has an almost mirror-like finish, providing just the right "sparkle" for any car. Before trying to clean chrome, you should make sure that your car really has chrome on it. Examine what you think is chrome. Is it obviously metal? Does it feel like metal? These aren't silly questions. Many car manufacturers have replaced shiny chrome with shiny plastic in order to reduce weight and cost. Chrome is much sturdier than plastic, and if you try to clean plastic as if you are cleaning chrome, you could ruin the finish on your car. Once you've determined that you really do have chrome, the first thing to do is get rid of any bugs that might be splattered on the metal. A great way to do this is with a scouring pad, such as a 3-M scouring pad. These are not so abrasive that they will hurt the chrome, but they are abrasive enough that they will remove any bug remains. If you want, you can add a little bit of cola (yes, cola) to your scouring pad to help loosen up the remains. On close inspection, you might also find some rust spots starting to form on your chrome. If so, don't despair—you can still get them off. Try the same scouring pad you used for the bugs; it might work great for small spots. For larger spots, crumple up some aluminum foil and rub down the rust spots, or grab some steel wool. If you decide to use steel wool, get some that is a very fine steel wool. If you examine the package that the steel wool comes in, you should find a "grade" rating. Look for a very fine wool, preferably one with a rating of 0000. You don't need to get steel wool that has soap in it since you are going to be using it strictly to clean off those difficult spots. Once you've gotten rid of the bugs and the rust, you are ready to clean and polish the rest of the chrome. While you can get a commercial chrome cleaner from your auto parts store, there are less expensive alternatives. Try using soda water (club soda) or some mineral water. Another good choice is regular window cleaner, vinegar (cider or white) or some lemon peel. You can also use a paste of bicarbonate of soda or use a solution of one part clear ammonia to sixteen parts water.
 

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