Can You Wax Chrome Wheels? (Helpful Tips)

Nowadays, there are people who are very serious about detailing their cars. Has a car ever passed you by and you couldn’t help but notice how shiny and nice their chrome wheels look?

Well, as an ordinary car owner, you were probably left wondering how they did that. One of the things that probably crossed your mind is that maybe they have waxed their chrome.

But being the smart motorist that you are, you first had to research whether it is okay to wax chrome before doing it to your car.

Waxing has been a common detailing practice in the automotive industry. Wax, other than making your car look glossy and shiny, protects paint and prolongs its life.

Waxing has been mostly associated with car paint. However, nowadays chrome wheels are being waxed or polished in order to give them that stunning look.

can you wax chrome wheels

Can I Wax My Chrome?

After seeing other people’s cars with shiny chrome wheels, it is normal for you to want your wheels to look like that. However, chromes are quite expensive and before you use any product on them, it is crucial that you know its safety.

There are some car owners who have been waxing their chrome wheels for an extended period and love what the wax does to their wheels. There is another lot that claims wax will cause pitting on chrome. And they don’t recommend it at all.

Chrome, similar to car paint, can be a bit choosy regarding the products that can be used on it. If you own a set of chrome wheels, you have obviously cleaned them using cleaners such as Windex.

Have you heard any problems so far? If you haven’t then you may be lucky, but if you have, you are wise enough not to repeat the same mistake.

The thing about car parts is that they are all unique in their ways. Some products can be used interchangeably on different car parts. However, others can’t.

When it comes to chrome wheels, always use the recommended cleaners and polishes.

That is the only way for you to have clean and shiny wheels. So, yes you can wax chrome wheels but be very keen on the products you use.

Does Waxing Prevent Chrome from Breathing?

There is a lot of mixed opinions regarding the issue of waxing chrome, mostly because of the breathability aspect. I have come across several forums that claim chrome is porous and when waxed, it will seal moisture and make it unable to breathe.

There is no evidence to support this information. And many people have been waxing their chromes for years and there have been minimal complaints indicating that it is wrong to wax chrome.

If you want to wax your chrome then don’t hesitate to do so. What matters the most is that you use the right wax and clean your chrome thoroughly before waxing it.

Later on, I am going to guide you on how to professionally wash and wax chrome.

Will Waxing Chrome Cause Pitting?

Chromium becomes unstable when exposed to oxygen. When oxidation occurs, a layer forms on chrome immediately. And a dull finish emerges.

Fortunately, chrome comes with a clear coating that prevents oxidation from occurring. Not unless your chrome wheels don’t have a clear coat.

There is no way it is going to pit when you wax it. This is another reason why you shouldn’t be afraid of waxing your chrome.

Once chrome pits, there is no going back. Even when you wax or polish it, chrome will retain its dull finish. And you may have to replace it eventually.

Is There a Benefit of Waxing Chrome?

That extra shine is usually what most people go for when waxing chrome. However, wax can do more than that. A proper application of wax will protect the chrome from rusting or pitting.

As mentioned earlier, all chrome wheels come with an added layer for protective purposes. Wax adds another layer to that and this makes it more able to fight oxidation and entry of contaminants.

With an added layer of wax, your chrome wheels will be easier to clean and therefore your wheels will always look sleek. Waxing your chrome wheels gives them the same benefit as waxing your car paint. It retains that new look for longer.

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A Guide to Waxing Chrome Wheels

Having concluded that it is safe to wax chrome rims, it’s time to look at how you can go about it. Chrome rims, even when not waxed, they always have a great finish. But if you want to turn heads wherever you drive, it is important to add a layer of wax.

Before we look at how to clean chrome wheels, I must address one crucial issue. Cleaning chrome wheels is important if you want them to last long.

If not cleaned frequently, chrome loses its shine permanently. You can never wax chrome without cleaning it first. That is the number one rule. Therefore, in our guide on how to clean chrome, we are going to start with cleaning.

1st Step – Washing the dirt

It’s unfortunate how the wheels are the only part of a car that is constantly exposed to dirt. Even if you never drive off-road, your wheels will always get dirty.

Before anything else, take a pressure washer and wash off the dirt on the chrome. Pressure washers do a commendable job at removing debris and dirt from the surface of the chrome.

2nd Step – Apply a Chrome Wheel Cleaner

If you care about how your chrome wheels are going to look, then you must invest in a wheel cleaner, especially one designed for chrome. There are many wheel cleaners in the market, finding one shouldn’t be a problem.

3rd Step – Rub the cleaner gently into the Chrome

For the cleaner to work, it must be rubbed into the chrome. Be gentle so that you don’t scratch the chrome with debris. Rub until the wheels are clean.

4th Step – Rinse with water

Take your hose and point it to the wheels and rinse off the soap. Please feel free to rewash the chrome if you accidentally missed a spot. When cleaning, make sure that you wash the wheel arches and don’t forget about the area behind the wheels.

5th Step – Let your wheels dry

Now that your chrome wheels are clean, take a dry cloth and rub it gently. Wiping is very important especially if you are going to wax it afterward. Once you are done let’s get to waxing.

Waxing Chrome Wheels

Waxing your chrome isn’t a difficult process. Provided the wheels are clean, you can begin waxing your car right away.

Depending on the type of wax you have bought, it may come with an applicator. That is what you will use to apply the wax. If that’s not there, you can always use a dry and soft cloth.

I would strongly advise against the use of polishing tools as they can be hard to handle especially if you aren’t experienced with such tools. Leave those to the experts.

Using your applicator of choice, apply the wax in small circular motions. Do this on all parts of the wheel. As you apply the wax, you will realize that in some areas the wax will start to dry.

This should be an indication that you are progressing well. After applying the wax to your chrome wheels, let it dry for a couple of minutes.

Take another clean soft cloth and rub off excess wax till your wheel starts to shine. You can always use a sponge to rub off excess wax. Follow this procedure on all the wheels till all of them are left shining.

To retain that shiny look, you should always wax your wheels at least twice a month. This will however depend on how frequently you use your car.

Waxing or Claying Chrome – Which is Better?

This has been a huge debate amongst detailers for years. And both are equally as popular. Waxing and claying offer different effects to chrome wheels. Waxing will make your wheels shine and protect them from oxidation.

Claying on the other hand only gives your wheels a deep clean. Claying is mostly recommended when your wheels have been exposed to a lot of dirt and need a thorough cleanse. Its duty is to remove anything the regular wash cant.

Both can be performed on a set of chrome wheels. Alternatively, you can do one now and the other later. The choice is entirely yours.

What about Polishing?

A lot of people confuse polishers with waxes. These two are very different things and give different results. As discussed earlier, the wax will give your chrome a brighter finish.

On the other hand, polishes will only correct imperfections on your wheels. If your wheel is scratched or slightly pitted, get a good polisher and start scrubbing the compound.

You can use chrome polish if your wheels have been on the road for a while and need a little touch-up to look better. Similar to waxing, always clean your wheels before polishing them.