It’s not just the exhaust, but any part of your car with chrome should not be waxed. Chrome is a non-porous finish. When you wax it, you seal in the moisture and make it hard for the chrome to breathe, accelerating pitting.
However, when you go through different forums, you will discover that many car and bike owners wax their chrome exhausts, and the majority of them don’t experience pitting or corrosion.
Such information can often leave you confused, wondering whether you should or shouldn’t wax chrome exhausts. We took the initiative to research this matter further, and here is a comprehensive answer to the question.
Table of Contents
- Why Do People Wax Chrome Exhausts?
- Is It Safe to Apply Wax on a Chrome Exhaust?
- What Should I Use on Chrome Exhaust?
- Is It Possible to Wax Chrome Exhaust Without Sealing Moisture?
- Will Burnt Wax Leave Reside on Chrome Exhaust?
- How Do I Polish Over Chrome Exhaust?
- Why Do Chrome Exhausts Turn Black and Can Wax Help?
- Should I Continue Using Wax on Chrome?
Why Do People Wax Chrome Exhausts?
Before providing you with an answer, let’s look at the main reasons people wax chrome exhausts.
1. To Retain Shine
If you have a chrome exhaust, there is a high chance that you care a great deal about aesthetics. As good as chrome exhausts look, they can look terrible when they accumulate dirt and carbon.
A layer of wax gives your chrome exhaust an extra shine. Every time you pass by the back of your car, you won’t help but admire the shine left behind by wax.
On chrome, the wax works the same way as it does on car paint. This is one of the main reasons why people wax their chrome exhaust.
2. Wax Makes It Easier to Clean Chrome Exhaust
The other reason why people wax their chrome exhausts is to make that part easier to clean. Waxing a surface doesn’t just add beauty, but it also creates a layer that traps dirt and anything else that may settle on the surface.
Cleaning a waxed surface is way easier than cleaning a naked surface. The layer of wax makes it easy for you to wipe off any dirt.
Considering the location of exhausts, they are quite vulnerable to becoming dirty. But with some wax, you should clean it in a jiff.
Is It Safe to Apply Wax on a Chrome Exhaust?
Even though it does have its benefits, most waxing companies are against using this product on Chrome. DIY detailers may have different opinions. But if the product manufacturers advise against the waxing of chrome exhausts, you should heed their advice.
To emphasize once more, chrome is non-porous. When you spread some wax on the surface, chrome won’t be able to breathe, especially if moisture is trapped in between.
This will accelerate pitting. If you put the wax over an uncleaned chrome exhaust, it’s even worse because there could be contaminants such as road salt that will speed up the corrosion.
What Should I Use on Chrome Exhaust?
Wax was not made for chrome. It was, however, created for paint. Understandably, DIY detailers love trying out new things. Some work very well, and others tend to backfire.
For instance, waxing over a chrome exhaust has worked for some, and others were not very fortunate. Most people using wax on chrome exhausts haven’t experienced pitting because this isn’t a process that occurs overnight.
Anyway, if you want to protect your chrome exhaust from pitting, the best product is a special chrome polish. In the same way, wax was made for the paint. Polish is ideal for chrome.
A quality polish should restore chrome’s shine and protect it from pitting and dirt. The best thing to use for car owners with chrome exhaust is a chrome polish.
There are many polishes in the market, such as Mother’s chrome polish. You should have an easy time picking one that meets your preferences.
Windex is an excellent cleaner for a chrome exhaust if you are more of a DIY person. Windex is a glass and hard surface cleaner that has been around for decades.
This product can provide your chrome exhaust with an impressive streak-free shine. It is a strong cleaner that doesn’t require a lot of elbow grease, no matter the amount of dirt or carbon you have on your exhaust.
If you don’t have any chrome polish in your garage, Windex is an excellent substitute. It’s also widely available in most homes.
Other than Windex, there are a bunch of DIY cleaners that can be used on a chrome exhaust. They include rubbing alcohol, toothpaste, and magic eraser. Please note that these only restore the shine of chrome.
They will not offer any protection. If you want to protect your chrome exhaust from dirt or carbon buildup, the best solution remains to be chrome polish.
Is It Possible to Wax Chrome Exhaust Without Sealing Moisture?
After reading about how wax can cause pitting, you may be wondering why some people use wax and haven’t experienced such. Allow us to break down how it’s possible to wax chrome exhaust without sealing moisture.
The issue with waxing chrome is the trapping of moisture between the wax and the chrome. Most people can wax chrome, and it doesn’t pit because they live in areas that experience moderate humidity levels.
High humidity will ensure some moisture and oxygen are trapped between the chrome and wax even if you dry it thoroughly.
As we all know, poor cleaning methods can also lead to chrome pitting. If you leave contaminants on the surface, the wax will lock them in.
Will Burnt Wax Leave Reside on Chrome Exhaust?
Surprisingly, wax that has been well-applied to the surface of a chrome exhaust will not leave any residue when burnt. Wax bonds with chrome on a deeper level.
When you rub it into the chrome to the point that there is no haze or residue, it will hold up. However, the wax will gradually be burnt off as the exhaust gets hot.
Even though wax won’t be burnt off when applied to the chrome exhaust, that is not a recommendation for you to do so. We have already mentioned the risks of waxing a chrome exhaust.
How Do I Polish Over Chrome Exhaust?
Compared to waxing, polishing chrome is safer and more effective at restoring and protecting the shininess of chrome. If you are interested in preserving the lie of your chrome exhaust, here is a quick guide.
- Step 1
You will need to gather the necessary tools to clean and polish the chrome. Please note that the surface must be cleaned thoroughly for the polish to work. Get your hands on a decent chrome cleaner as you shop for a chrome polish.
Ordinary car wash shampoo should be enough. It would be best if you also bought a degreaser which will come in handy in stripping carbon deposits.
- Step 2
As mentioned in Step 1, cleaning the chrome exhaust is crucial before polishing it. Using a microfiber cloth dipped in soapy water, scrub the chrome exhaust and remove surface dirt and carbon.
Because of where the chrome exhaust is located, it is very likely to be exposed to lots of dirt and contaminants such as road salt.
You have to be very thorough when cleaning it. It’s advisable to use a soft brush to scrub off stubborn stains. You should only use this if it’s necessary.
- Step 3
Apply a degreaser and scrub it with super fine sandpaper. This step mainly applies to chrome exhausts that have been neglected for a while and have stubborn carbon deposits.
A degreaser will loosen up any carbon deposits on the exhaust. The purpose of the sandpaper is to agitate stubborn stains. Repeat this process until you have successfully restored the shine of your chrome exhaust.
- Step 4
Dry the chrome exhaust before spreading the polish. We recommend drying the chrome exhaust with a microfiber cloth to get the most out of chrome polish.
You can also turn on the car or bike so that the exhaust heats up and gets rid of any water or moisture. Once you are sure the chrome exhaust is dry, you can spread some polish on the surface and let it dry.
Before finalizing your project, you should wipe off excess polish with a clean and dry microfiber cloth.
Why Do Chrome Exhausts Turn Black and Can Wax Help?
The tips of your exhaust turn black due to carbon buildup. It is usual for chrome exhausts to turn black.
However, if your engine is misfiring, the soot produced would be enormous. And that should be checked by an expert mechanic because it could signal a more serious issue.
Anyway, whether you have waxed or polished the chrome exhaust, it won’t prevent the tips from turning black. The gasses that come from the engine usually contain carbon, and they are pretty hot.
Some will be left on the tip as they exit through the exhaust. The only relief wax or polish will offer is making it easier for you to clean the carbon left behind. But wax or polish won’t prevent the tips from turning black.
Should I Continue Using Wax on Chrome?
Wax may do a great job at making your chrome exhaust shiny, but it wasn’t meant to be used on such a surface.
Continuous use of wax on chrome exhaust can lead to pitting. To avoid that, you should switch to a polish that won’t adversely affect Chrome.