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topic 40345

How to remove chrome plating peeling off of rims!

A discussion started in 2006 but continuing through 2020


Q. I have recently been given some rims that the chrome plating on the Aluminum rims is peeling off. I am wondering if there is another way other than Muriatic Acid [affiliate link to product info on Amazon] which eats the aluminum. I have tested this on a chrome plated thermostat housing and the results were not good. First it wasn't long enough in the acid then I tried it again after cleaning it off then I let it sit for 15 min and it turned it black it cleaned up after sanding but was pitted and no longer usable I have also tried a grinder and am afraid to go too far and hit the aluminum. Please help if you have any info.

Jonathan Schumann
mechanic - Bismarck, North Dakota


Q. I have the same problem, and I cannot find out how to remove the chrome but so far I been peeling some off, but can't get the rest, I'm going to go to couple body shops and ask, but anyone else has a comment bout them reply here. thanks

Blake Pfoutz
- Lafayette, Indiana


A. Reverse current in 15% sulfuric acid will remove the chrome and underlying nickel without damage to the aluminum, but I don't think you want to do this at home. Most plating shops can easily do this for you.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina


affil. link
"Automotive Cheap Tricks and Special F/X"
by Craig Fraser
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

A. Sandblasting, it's going to be the easiest and safest way to remove the chrome with minimal pitting and material removal.
If you don't have sandblasting gear, check with your local welding shops and see if they can help you out.

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Elizabeth City, North Carolina

April 2, 2008

A. I remember when I wanted to take chrome off my bicycle wheel I would put fire to it (direct fire) the chrome would peel and was easily scraped off. sand and painted.
I'm about to do some rims off my truck from chrome to polished.

Edwin James
- Brooklyn New York

April 6, 2008

! Hi, Edwin. Thanks for joining in and helping. But I don't think I can agree. Maybe you successfully burned off shiny chrome-look paint? I personally don't think you can remove real nickel-chrome plating that way.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

March 28, 2019

A. have heated up chrome plated emblems with propane torch and the chrome starts to flake off and Shrink then fell off

Michael Baltzer
- Nova Scotia

July 9, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Can anyone help: my car wheels are chrome plated; one has started to peel and it's peeling off like wall paper.
The other 3 wheels are fine but now I have 1 bad one can anyone help with ideas for a DIY strip that won't damage the wheel underneath the chrome.
The wheel that has started to peel has what looks like a nice smooth black paint underneath so if I could get the chrome off myself I want have to get repainted as I wanted them black as the chrome is terrible.
Any help would be great. Cheers ROB

robert allen
hobbyist - bridgend s. wales UK

A. Hi Robert. If there's black paint underneath, they certainly are not chrome electroplated. Sounds like shiny chrome-look paint or PVD Chrome.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

November 6, 2008

Q. I recently bought a set of Keystone Klassic rims which were chipped scuffed and the chrome was peeling on all of them. I work at my dad's repair shop and stayed after hours to try different ways to get it off, and so far have been somewhat unsuccessful. I tried sand-blasting them, and it worked great to take off the majority of the chrome, but had minimal effect on the sides and edges which weren't peeling. I used a resin pad on an air tool to remove the rest on one but it left the aluminum shiny and chrome-like, I am now trying to find a better way to rough up the smoothed aluminum while also looking for a different method of removal. I was wondering if there are more abrasive mixtures available for the sand-blasting method (other than glass beads)that anyone has any experience with. or maybe a cleaner that will help. (P.S. the repair shop my dad owns is strictly mechanical, body repair is just hobby of my own, so I have limited resources of which to use) Any ideas?

Terry Knutson
- Bowbells, North Dakota

December 15, 2011

affil. link
"How to Restore Metal Auto Trim"
by Jeff Lilly
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

Q. Hey guys, basically same question most everyone is asking. "How do I strip the chrome off"

I got a set of aluminum wheels that are chrome plated. I'm the kinda guy like some that try's to do it all on a budget. Not the biggest fan of chrome and I want to black out these wheels. Would it be worth my effort to just have the wheels powdercoated black or spend countless hours trying to strip them my self to then paint my self!

Suggestions or comments?

Brandon H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Silverton, Oregon, United States

February 14, 2012

aff. link
Ratchet Wrench Set

A. Hey I found a really easy, quick and kinda cool way to remove chrome by accident. I was at work using my brand new chrome, Matco wrenches when I got battery corrosion on the 13 mm. So of course, what's right in front of me: battery terminal cleaner! Sweet, it comes right off...OH FUDGE (but the other word, lol) my chrome's gone too! So yeah anyways, battery terminal cleaner.

Dillon Mckean
- Sierra Vista, Arizona

February 21, 2012

Q. Battery Terminal Cleaner? Really?
If that actually works, I'm impressed!

Chad Kelly
- Yuma, Arizona

April 4, 2013

A. This was most likely not due to the cleaner but due to the sulfuric acid in the battery corrosion. Sulfuric acid is used in chrome removal as well as car batteries. You can use sulfuric acid to remove chrome by submerging your part in it and hooking up a car battery to the part. The negative terminal or cathode. Hook the anode or positive terminal to a lead bar or just something lead and submerging that to. Watch it bubble. Check the part regularly and be careful this stuff is dangerous! It's called electrolysis and is the reverse of how they chrome plate. Thanks.

Charles Cook
- Batavia Ohio

April 5, 2013

A. Hi Charles. Thanks. You have correctly identified the cathode as the negative terminal (I like the mneumonic 'andode & canthode' to remember the plus and minus), but you have the terminals reversed in your description because the item you want to de-plate must be connected to the positive terminal so electrons are removed from it causing the metal to convert to positively charged ions.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

May 8, 2013

Q. I need a little help here. I have a chrome plated [real thin] breather cover off an old car that I am powder coating. I started out bead blasting it just to etch it up some. Well as I am doing this a small section of the chrome flies off, so I started to see if I could just blast the rest off. Well, it would not release any more chrome. I blast it at 135 lbs of pressure and still no more chrome will come off. I know now that I have to get all the chrome off but no more will come off. This has to be done before I coat it. I just don't know what to do. PLEASE if you know what I need to do to get the rest of this chrome off, please feel free to help me out here. THANKS.

Robert Knick
- Guyton, Georgia

June 12, 2013

A. Robert,
Most of the chemical methods I know of to remove chrome are moderately to heavily toxic and best handled by a professional plating shop, they would also not be cost effective for you I'd think.
Here's what I suggest, take a wire wheel on an angle grinder to it, or a flap wheel, and scuff the heck out of the surface, then go back in and sand blast again. Check the areas where the chrome was with a chemical indicator to see if it's there or gone.

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Boone, North Carolina, USA

June 14, 2013

thumbs up signMarc Banks.
Marc, I did something just like you said and it came out great. Once I coated it with powder, let it cure -- man it was awesome. It really was. But thanks a whole lot for your help. I hope this could help someone else.

Robert Knick [returning]
- Guyton, Georgia, U.S.

Remove chrome from aluminum rims with muriatic acid

April 19, 2016

Q. How badly will a 30% muriatic acid solution attack aluminum and effectively help strip the chrome? I'd like to get some assistance in removing the chrome but would hate to ruin the aluminum of the wheels. I plan on sanding and painting after removing the loose chrome and achieving an even surface.

Orion Alnitak
- Springfield, Massachusetts USA

April 2016

A. Hi Orion. In the narrowest sense of the word, yes, muriatic acid will dissolve chromium. But the plating on wheels is not "chrome" (that's just slang), it's a heavy layer of nickel plating followed by a thin flash of chrome ... and muriatic acid will not remove the nickel plating. The nickel plating is more resistant to muriatic acid than the aluminum is.

Please consider Jeffrey's suggestion of sending them to a plating shop for electro-stripping, or Mark's suggestion of flap wheel sanding and blasting. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


Hydrochloric acid strips Nickel along with Chrome in Nickel-Chrome Plating

September 9, 2016

Q. Hello Everyone,

We are trying to strip only the chrome off of Nickel-Chrome plating, but Nickel also gets stripped off. Could anyone provide insight into this issue? Any insight would be appreciated.


Adi L
- Mumbai, India

September 2016

A. Hi Adi. Apparently you already know that this is not the usual case and will not happen in a reliable fashion. But I think that if you carefully detail your situation, people might be able to help. Are you a plating shop? Did you do the plating yourself so you know there is nickel plating under the chrome? What is the substrate. What is the HCl concentration. How long did you strip for?

Without facts, the situation could be virtually anything including the possibility that this is a piece that actually had chrome-look paint rather than real nickel-chrome plating on it. Full details please!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


October 24, 2016

Q. The chrome is peeling/flaking off of my 20' wheels that came in a package for my 2014 TSS Tundra. I see a nice black finish beneath the chrome foil (that's what it looks like to me... lol) and would like to know a quick and safe way to get rid of all the chrome to expose the nice black finish on the wheels please? It seems ALL TSS Tundras have this same issue and the dealerships in the US would replace it but being that I'm from the islands, corporate offices is giving me the runaround if not flat out ignoring me. Any information you could give me is greatly appreciated. P.S. I bought the car in Texas and shipped it home. Thanks a bunch!

Melisa Jack
- Saipan, MP (CNMI - US Territory)

November 15, 2016

A. Your wheels are PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) chrome, you cannot remove only the nano chrome/clear coat. You need to strip using a full paint strip system done professionally. The black powder primer needs to also be removed, it will be removed at the same time as chrome/clear finishes. Wheels can then be blasted and re powder coated. Budget $175-300 per corner.

Andy McIntosh
alloy wheel specialists - London, ON, Canada

February 20, 2017

Q. I have a set of Foose legend rims that have the same problem as the person with the Toyota Tundra.. The chrome film and a clear film has peeled off in flakes. Of course they said if I pay shipping to send it back to California they would "consider warranting the rim". BTW the rim is only 9 months old and hasn't even been on my car for the last 4 months.

ANYWAY ... I was interested in doing the same thing with my rims, and removing all the chrome to expose the shiny black surface underneath. Anyone know of a shop in the Chicago area that can do this. Or a chemical spray that would allow me to remove the chrome film and clear film off the rims. It actually looks like tint paper that is coming off.

Jim Bays
- Chicago, Illinois

March 24, 2017

A. It has been my experience that removing chrome to then powdercoat is a timely job. Blasting chrome with media will remove the top layer of chromium fairly quickly but the layer of nickel and sometimes copper takes a lot of work. If you have access to a plating shop that will reverse the application and it is in your budget they go that route. However if blasting is the only method available to you the plan on paying for an extended cabinet labor fee. Clear coating on wheels can be simply removed with aircraft aluminum stripper but beware disposing regulations. Podwercoating and chrome are by far some of the toughest finishes available and the toughest to remove make sure of your choice of finish before you purchase for changing can cost almost as much as a new purchase.

Gifford Farmer
G&G Media Blasting - Waynesville, North Carolina,USA

Gold plating over chrome that's not in greatest shape?

May 3, 2017

Q. Hello I just started gold plating. I've plated some small items, and now I'm gold plating some chrome car wheels. While the wheels look good and are still shiny, when up close you do see some wear to the chrome compared to a new set where the chrome is thick and perfect. My question is would using bright nickel after stripping increase the appearance of gold and brightness? I've done one wheel that I cleaned, hand polished, stripped, activated, and gold plated and it looks good but you can see up close the defects under the gold -- scratches, cloudy (trying my best to describe)? Any advice would be helpful, or are the wheels doomed? Just trying to find out how to get the best finish on chrome that's not new on used rims? Thanks

Pablo Roca
Hobbyist - Acworth, Georgia, USA

May 2017

affil. link
"Automobiles of the Chrome Age"
by Michael Furman
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

A. Hi Pablo. It can be a big jump from "small items" to wheels :-)

Second only to plating of jewelry, gold plating chrome car emblems is the easiest thing there is, because you simply strip a few millionths of an inch of chrome from beautifully prepared, highly reflective, nickel plated articles, and put a few millionths of an inch of gold in its place.

Although I'm not sure that I understand you 100%, it seems you have stripped the chrome and, having done so, discovered that the underlying nickel is not in very good condition. The gold plating is not going to be flashy unless the nickel plating under it is flashy; it's not going to be corrosion resistant if the nickel plating is porous, pin-holed, or otherwise compromised; and it's not going to conceal any scratches.

I think you are on the right track in your belief that nickel plating will prove necessary, but I do fear that it may not prove as easy as your experience in gold plating small items might have led you to believe. I hope they are your wheels rather than someone else's because success is not guaranteed. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

May 4, 2017

Q. Thank you Ted Mooney for your helpful response, but I was told I can't bright nickel plate over nickel because it won't stick?

Were you referring to nickel plating, and not bright nickel plating? How would I nickel plate again? Is this a process where the wheel would have to be dipped or could I nickel plate myself? Thanks

Pablo Roca [returning]
- Acworth, Georgia, USA

A. Hi, Pablo. I'm not the plating sheriff so as far as I'm concerned, you're welcome to try any type of plating you wish. But again, in my own personal opinion, in proceeding from gold plating trinkets to gold plating old & damaged chrome wheels you will be trying to leap a large chasm with a number of small jumps :-)

You were told correctly that you can't bright nickel plate over nickel because it won't stick. So now you will be into having to learn to do a "Wood's Nickel Strike" on your wheels first, before you learn to do bright nickel plating on them, before you learn what is different about gold plating a wheel versus a trinket. Best of luck with it, but some smaller jumps in experience is what I'd recommend.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Did plating shop corrode my wheels?

June 2, 2017

Q. Hi,

My alloys were originally chrome and then repainted over the chrome a few years ago.

After some time the chrome has started coming off in strips along with the paint.

Took one of my alloys to a shop that put it in acid to strip and tried to re powder coat.

when collecting the wheel from the shop I noticed what looks like a lot of corrosion on the inside of the rim some of which is fairly deep.

40345-3d   40345-3f   40345-3c   40345-3a   40345-3e   40345-3b  

Can someone advise on what could have caused this as the shop is stating that the corrosion was already there.

Have checked the other rear wheel and it doesn't have any major corrosion on the inside. there was a lot of white residue all over the outside where the chrome was just lifting off.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Kind Regards,

Gary Ross
- Glasgow, East Kilbride, United Kingdom

June 2017

thumbs up sign Hi Gary. Someone might possibly be able to help you, but don't be surprised if they don't. People are generally averse to involving themselves in other folks' contract disputes, which is what this sounds like, when they have at very best one side of the story, and even that is rather incomplete :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

June 7, 2017

A. Hi Garry
Road wheels operate in some of the most aggressive environments that surfaces are expected to face.

Your question has two clues. East Kilbride has harsh winters with lots of salt on the roads and you say the wheels were re-painted some years ago. Old alloy wheels corrode! That is why there are so many companies specialising in re-finishing them.

Chrome plating on alloys can set up corrosion problems and painting on top makes the situation worse.

Your best bet is probably to get them polished.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

Chrome peeling / curb rash

February 19, 2020

Q. Hi, just came across this thread as I am looking for ways to repair my chrome clad wheels on a 2011 caddy dts. I just bought it and then noticed some curb rash on driver's side rear wheel. The other 3 look new. The rash is only minor but has caused some small patches of chrome to get ground off. The area is at the end of spoke (it's a 9-spoke cap ) on 3 of the spokes in an area of about 1,2 inch patch. It's plastic underneath. Can I just get some chrome paint & touch it up or should I sand / clean 1st & maybe put some type of resin / epoxy over 1st to keep more chrome from peeling? Thanks, Marty

40345-4b   40345-4a  

Marty Parlos
- Pendleton, Indiana

February 2020

A. Hi Marty. Others on this page were discussing wheels; you are discussing a plastic hubcap, which changes the economic situation. Have you priced one at a Cadillac dealer?

Some sanding, perhaps body putty, and some spray paint that looks shiny is probably all that can be justified.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

February 25, 2020

Q. Thank you for the response Ted. I did contact the dealer body shop & was told they replace the whole wheel with a new one at a cost of $500-$1000 dollars or to contact an aftermarket distributor. He said they don't sell just the "CHROME CLAD CAP". I explained after marketers sell caps for other cars including Cadillacs but not this style Mf #'sOEM: 09597243, 9597242, FPM OEM Option: N80. I explained I'd watched on pages where they can get the cap off & re-affix a new cap onto the old wheel. I just have a hard time believing they don't have this style cap as in the aftermarket they sell reconditioned wheels? I've seen other comparable caps for $50-$75 dollar range. Other than ordering a new wheel they couldn't help me. I realize touch up can't replace real chrome so just looking for a way to make it look better & last awhile also. I thought about putting an adhesive putty like JB WELD to keep the chrome from continuing to peel & the sand down to a smooth finish & touch up paint. Again I thank you for your comment and I would appreciate any advice offered. Marty

Marty Parlos [returning]
- Pendleton, Indiana

February 2020

A. Hi again. Sorry, I've never looked at one of those wheels or really thought about it. Perhaps I'll learn better some day and have to apologize, but for now I'll say that making a cheap, easily damaged plastic hubcap a permanent non-removeable part of a $500-$1000 automobile wheel sounds like a ludicrous design.

I bought only GM cars from 1968-2005, at which point GM acted in a way I found duplicitous, and I swore off for life; thanks for helping me not regret my decision :-)

Yes, JB Weld is fine stuff, and if you can get some under the loose edges before sanding, that would be great.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

February 25, 2020

A. Have you tried salvage yards for a good one off a wreck?

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

February 25, 2020

thumbs up sign Thank you for the suggestion. That did cross my mind and I checked a local yard and no luck. It's a pull-a-part where you go back and find one like yours. Problem is this car is now 9 yrs old & although in excellent shape finding a nice one will probably be hard to find. I plan on expanding my search area as the weather breaks here in Indiana and they get more cars in sporadically. The wheels on these cars usually won't last more than a couple of days if they're nice. I'm kinda a junkyard dog since at one time I had 4 daughters in college at the same time and trying to keep all their cars and mine running was, well to say the least, a monumental task as since I was & still am broke paying the bills. I am open to any & all suggestions and appreciate your input. Even at my age I can still learn. Again, thanks, Marty.

Marty Parlos [returning]
- Pendleton, Indiana

February 29, 2020

A. Keep looking.

There are websites to which salvage yards subscribe, so one request by you will go out to many.

Also it's worth checking ebay. There are many salvage parts listed there.

Somewhere there is a wrecked car with a good wheel cover.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

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