Can you repair a scratch on chrome wheels?

Chrome wheels are arguably one of the most beautiful and elegant looks on the road (in our humble but accurate opinion!). They are also extraordinarily high-maintenance. And when we say ‘high-maintenance’, we mean HIGH-maintenance. So getting a scratch or scuff on one of them is pretty heartbreaking stuff. Can they be repaired, or is it a singular horror that must simply be lived with and endured?

While it is technically possible to repair damage to chrome wheels, it can be a hazardous and costly enterprise, especially if you’re attempting it yourself. The problem is that you’re not simply dealing with a base metal or even a paint finish, but with a metal plating that has been applied using very complex, harsh and specialist methods. 

Unlike paint, where the new surface is simply sprayed on, chromium (chrome) has to be applied to a base-metal wheel using a three-step electrolysis bath. This involves way more than just submerging the wheel in the soon-to-be-chrome metals, pulling it out and letting it drip-dry, before hey-presto, a chrome-plated wheel! 

The specialist ‘bath’ is filled with either molten nickel, gold or silver, which then has a specific  electrical current passed through it. The electrolytic process then causes the now-dissolved metal ions to cling to surface of the target metal (in this case, a wheel). The thickness of the layer that ends up adhering depends on the time the wheel spends in the plating bath and the amount of current used. 

The chemicals and by-products produced from this process are extremely unfriendly to the environment, creating a toxic wasteload that is surprising, considering the size of what you’re wanting to chrome-plate.

You’re probably starting to see how the repair process would go for a wheel surface created in this manner. If you have a scratch or scuff in your chrome wheel surface, it is not as simple as filling it in and painting over it, or even buffing it down and re-chroming it. The ENTIRE chrome surface would likely need to be removed and reapplied, which involves acid and baths (not nice bubbly ones) and more supercharged electrical currents and pricey metals.

I hear you breathing in sharply. Yes, quite - we weren’t kidding when we said dealing with chrome is seriously high-maintenance. Assuming the scratch isn’t deep and is still in the chrome-plated layer, it might be possible to buff it out without too much distortion in the finish. But even then you’re taking a big risk.

At Salt City Wheels in Utah, we create the highest quality paint finishes and will take on the repair of just about any damage. We love working with different metals, and chrome is undoubtedly the opera diva of them all (when it comes to wheels, at least). However, chrome wheels require so much time and specialist materials to repair, not to mention the process’s environmental impact, that it is simply not a cost-effective service for us to provide to our customers. Because we are determined to provide the highest quality repair service at the best possible price to our customers, Salt City Wheels do not repair damage to chrome wheels. 

However, don’t despair! If your chrome wheel rims have been scratched or damaged by road rocks or curbed by an over-zealous corner, give the mobile wheel repair experts at Salt City Wheels a call today at 801 425 3044. We will be happy to recommend a chrome wheel specialist who will get your wheels back on the road in all their blinding glory in no time!