Buying a used semi truck usually means it comes with the pride of the previous owner. If the former driver took great care to keep the truck and it's components in good condition, you're in luck, and you'll probably have little more than maintenance work to do to keep the truck looking sharp. If the previous owner didn't give a hoot, you might have a longer road ahead of you if you intend on restoring the truck to it's former glory. Here's what you need to know.
The Importance of Polishing
If you're like many people, the idea of rubbing a metal bumper with a cloth for an hour doesn't sound like a anything to write home about. Chrome is famous for it's flashiness and it's ability to withstand corrosion, but that doesn't mean it's maintenance free. Spending a little time polishing it will keep surface corrosion from feeding rust, which is the bane of the existence of everyone who appreciates a good looking truck. Polishing is simple, just follow these steps:
- Apply mild soap and water. Chrome is a soft metal, and therefore can be easily scratched, so use a soft cloth.
- If that doesn't get it clean, try a vinegar and water solution. You'll smell like a salad afterward, but your truck will look amazing.
- If neither of those things work, you can try a commercial chrome cleaner, available in auto supply stores.
If doing all that by hand is too much for you, you can always rig something up on your power drill. Products are available to make doing so easier, or you can do it yourself by attaching an extension piece into the drill and rigging a soft, fluffy cloth to the end. You'll be done in no time.
Protect and Serve
After serving your chrome by polishing it regularly, you're going to want to add a layer of protection. The less water and road dirt that has a chance to make a home on your chrome surfaces, the better. Every so often, it's a good idea to add a layer of wax to keep your chrome water resistant and road ready.
Repairing Previous Damage
If you're purchasing a truck that is already showing the signs of wear and tear on the chrome, never fear. You have options. First, you could let it go to pot. Chrome is simply a decorative material. But if you have an ounce of pride, you'll go the extra mile to get it looking better.
- First, scrub off the corroded chrome. You can do so with a simple rig (also perhaps on an extension piece on your drill) of a wadded up piece of aluminum foil. It sounds crazy, but aluminum is harder than chrome but softer than steel, which will wear away the corrosion without damaging the bumper itself, and aluminum reacts with rust to create a polish.
- Apply a silver automotive paint. It might sound like cheating, but would you rather spray on a coat of paint over a severely corroded bumper or have the whole thing re-chromed? Make sure you remove the bumper from the semi first, so as not to spray paint your bumper's silhouette onto the truck.
- Apply wax. Yes, again. Wax is important in the process of making and keeping a chrome bumper in good shape.
When you're looking at used semi trucks for sale, don't let chrome stop you from making a smart purchase. It's easy to care for with a little bit of elbow grease, and if it looks rough, it's easy enough to restore. It's worth it to take a little time and effort to make your new (to you) truck look great.