How to Repair Salt-Pitted Chrome Wheels

by Brandon Getty
roue ,chrome et reflets image by rachid amrous-spleen from

In areas that receive a lot of snowfall during the winter months, main roads are often salted to hasten the melting of the snow and make driving safer. This salt mixes with the melted snow and dirt, creating a sludge that can wreak havoc on your car's chrome wheels or details. Salt deposits are especially harmful to chrome, as they are a direct cause of chrome pitting--small porelike holes that form on a chrome wheel's surface. If you know what you're doing, you can easily remove mild pitting using household materials.

Step 1

Clean the pitted wheel thoroughly using water, dish detergent and a rag. Pat the wheel dry.

Step 2

Put on your safety goggles and gloves. These will protect you from any chrome or metal shards produced by the sanding of the wheel.

Step 3

Sand the affected area using fine grit sandpaper. Move in a gentle circular fashion, avoiding harsh back-and-forth movement.

Step 4

Rub the freshly sanded area with steel wool. Again, take your time and move gently.

Step 5

Wipe the wheel down with a wet rag to remove any chrome or metal dust.

Step 6

Apply a generous portion of chrome or metal polish to a small scrubbing pad. Let it set for an hour or so.

Step 7

Remove the polish using a buffer cloth and a strong circular motion.

Check your results. If there is still visible pitting, you can repeat steps 3 through 7. Perform these steps on all affected wheels.


  • Depending on the depth of the pits in your chrome, you may need to purchase coarser sandpaper. If you use a coarser grit, gradually move up to a finer grit before proceeding to step 4.
  • Always wash your chrome wheels with soap and water after they have been exposed to salt, dirt or other damaging elements. This will preserve the shiny finish and prevent pitting.


  • Work in a well-ventilated area. Metal shards or dust and fumes from polishing agents can be harmful if inhaled.

Items you will need

  • Dish detergent
  • Rags
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • Chrome or metal polish
  • Scrubbing pads
  • Buffing cloth

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