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I have an old motorcycle with chromed parts. Some of them look brand new, but others have rust on them.

Is WD-40 good for preventing corrosion on chrome parts? Can it also be applied after removing rust? Or are there better ways/products?

7 Answers 7

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One time-honored method is to rub the chromed parts vigorously with alumin(i)um foil. That results in the transfer of alumin(i)um ions to the steel surface, further protecting the surface.

WD-40 is a lousy, horrible corrosion prevention agent. If you can get it to last for longer than about 24 hours, you're doing well. It does do some jobs very very well... but it's nearly worthless for preventing corrosion.

If you don't mind (or if you enjoy) handling your bike every couple-or-few months, and if you're not talking about exhaust parts, paste wax does a very nice job of corrosion prevention...

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  • Won't I damage (scratch) the chrome surface with the aluminum foil? I fear that I'll make it look good for a week, but inadvertently increase the corrosiveness of the chrome part.
    – ponadto
    Aug 22, 2014 at 12:27
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    Aluminum is far, far softer than chromium - it will definitely not scratch the chrome if the chrome's clean. If the chrome is dusty, and if the dust is harder than the chrome, then any rubbing with anything will rub the abrasive dust against the chrome and scratch it. Just clean the chrome well before rubbing with foil... and do not use stainless-steel foil. Aug 22, 2014 at 12:42
  • How do aluminium ions protect the surface?
    – Vigrond
    Aug 19, 2015 at 22:28
  • @vigrond: Aluminum is one of the metals that "passivates" by forming an extremely thin layer of oxide, which seals the surface and prevents further oxidation. The transferred aluminum ions build up their own tiny passivation layer over the steel... almost like flash plating. Sep 5, 2015 at 22:55
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Mar 6 at 16:52
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Chrome does not rust, its the steel under the chrome that rusts and flakes off the chrome. In the UK the number one product for chrome is Solvol Autosol. Does what is says on the tube.

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    You are actually wrong. Chrome DOES rust, just not with the orange you see with iron. Like several other metals, chromium oxidizes clear. And when it has a layer of the the chromium oxidation on it, it acts to protect the chrome from further deterioration. For more understanding of chrome, watch this episode of Modern Marvels entitled Chrome. Aug 22, 2014 at 20:50
  • The only metal that rusts is iron. 'Rusting' of chrome is the miniscule porosity of the chrome allowing the underlying metal, ferrus, to permeate through. Aug 23, 2014 at 7:30
  • Rusting is the term used for the oxidation of any metal (as I stated earlier). I guess you didn't watch the episode of Modern Marvels I suggested to really understand anything about chrome. Aug 23, 2014 at 13:24
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Once you have removed rust, use vaseline (yep it's weird but it works :p) every now and then to protect the chrome parts.

When you notice the parts starting to get opaque use light abrasive paste on a cloth to make the chrome parts shining again.

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  • Won't it attract tons of dust, though?
    – ponadto
    Aug 22, 2014 at 13:21
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    Based on my experience on a mate's bike, it doesn't (I helped him in the operation so I can guarantee the method worked). However, we didn't put it on the rims and that may be a dangerous spot (if you also consider the chain grease).
    – Andrew P.
    Aug 22, 2014 at 14:15
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What ive done is get a mixture of engine oil, new oil mind you, and diesel. Now get a suitable amount in a container, that your sure of will cover the entire chrome base youre looking to protect. Once youve got the mixture ready, pressure spray it onto the desired areas. It will attract dust and dirt. It will. But no water can destroy it. Or if you want extreme protection use only engine oil. Similarly, it will attract dust and grime. But whenever you clean it, it will shine like a mirror! Thats what i use to keep my chrome rims from getting anything on them.

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Don't use anything based on petroleum. Petroleum based chemicals turn acidic over time. Use this method to protect your chrome: 1) Polish with a good chrome polish. 2) Apply a top coat sealant or synthetic was. (video here)

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Chrome plating has micro cracks in it. The copper and nickel plating under the chrome do most of the corrosion protection of the underlying steel If rust has shown on the surface, the copper and nickel have failed at tiny locations . A low viscosity oil will penetrate the cracks in the chrome and give some protection to the steel . Not many other choices. I have dissolved grease in gasoline and wiped it on the chrome . My plan is the gasoline carries the grease through the cracks and then evaporates leaving grease on the steel. I don't know about chrome on zinc die cast , but oil couldn't hurt.

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  • Cool idea, would really like to know if it works in the long run.
    – ponadto
    Nov 26, 2019 at 9:32
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I got most of the rust off then painted the chrome with wax oil

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