How to Fix a Rusted Chrome Bumper

by William Zane
Hemera Technologies/ Images

Chrome plating provides a beautiful, reflective finish when it’s in good shape and is commonly used on classic car bumpers. Unfortunately, it can become very unsightly if rust is allowed to develop on it. And if surface rust is not removed before it pits the metal, it ruins the chrome, and the bumper will need to be rechromed, which is an expensive process. Keep the chrome bumpers on your classic rust-free with a few items and some elbow grease.

Step 1

Wash the bumper with a mild cleaner and water. A good cleaner is Simple Green that has been diluted with one part cleaner to five parts water.

Step 2

Polish the bumper with a high quality chrome polish. Apply the polish with a lint-free terrycloth rag and then buff it out. This will give you a better idea of where the more persistent rusted areas are.

Step 3

Remove rust that has caused minor pitting by rubbing the chrome polish onto the rusted areas with fine steel wool. Use the finest steel wool available to avoid scratching the chrome finish.

Step 4

Use aluminum foil and white vinegar if there is still rust on the bumper. Fold the aluminum foil so that it fits in the palm of your hand. Dip the foil in the white vinegar and then rub the foil over the rusted areas. Repeat the process of dipping the foil into the white vinegar and rubbing it on the rust. If you don’t have any white vinegar, Coca Cola may be substituted.

Apply chrome polish with a clean towel after you have used the steel wool and the white vinegar.


  • Depending on the extent of the rust on the bumpers, they may not be able to be fixed with polishing. If the rust has begun to extensively pit the metal and caused the chrome to flake, the bumper will have to be re-chromed. This can only be done by a professional plating shop and can cost several hundreds of dollars or more.

Items you will need

  • Chrome polish
  • Clean, lint-free rags
  • Steel wool
  • White vinegar or Coca Cola
  • Simple Green

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