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  1. #1
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    removing aluminum trim oxidation

    hi,

    This is my first post on the forum. I have a '90 BMW with clear coat aluminum trim. The trim is moderately oxidized and I'd like to spruce it up. The trim is in good condition except for the oxidation. At this point I'm totally confused about how to do that. I've seen products that tell you that you must sand off the old clear coast and then apply a new one to polish. I've had other suggestions like using Menzerna Nano Polish or a paint cleaner like Klasse AIO. These are all very different approaches and I don't know which is best to try. I'd appreciate suggestions, preferable with a choice that I can use manually (without a buffer).

  2. #2
    Senior Member TheDodgeGuy's Avatar
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    Welcome aboard Steve. Lots of great information for you to browse through here, hope you enjoy the site as much as the rest of us do. Head over to the AG store and type in "aluminum polish" in the search box and you have some great choices right of the bat that are product specific and will make your Bimmer's bling pop again.
    "The only thing that hurts more than paying an income tax is not having to pay an income tax." --Thomas Robert Dewar

  3. #3
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    Quote Originally Posted by stevehecht View Post
    hi,

    This is my first post on the forum. I have a '90 BMW with clear coat aluminum trim. The trim is moderately oxidized and I'd like to spruce it up. The trim is in good condition except for the oxidation. At this point I'm totally confused about how to do that. I've seen products that tell you that you must sand off the old clear coast and then apply a new one to polish. I've had other suggestions like using Menzerna Nano Polish or a paint cleaner like Klasse AIO. These are all very different approaches and I don't know which is best to try. I'd appreciate suggestions, preferable with a choice that I can use manually (without a buffer).
    I think the trim your talking about is plastic and has a plastic clear milar film over it. I would not try and sand it. You
    might try something like Meguairs Plastix to clarify the haze that your talking about. I repeat: Do not sand this. You will be replacing the trim. I have seen this stuff with a chip out of it and there is white or black plastic underneath of the chrome type covering.

  4. #4
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    I think I misinterpreted your material that you are working on. I thought you were saying it was like a chrome trim. Mch of this stuff is plastic. If you know it is aluminum and clear coated, then you are working on the clear coat which is like a clear coat on paint. You can use a chemical polishing agent like Poorboys Pro- Polish or you can use an abrasive polish like you use to polish your paint.

  5. #5
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    OK, so the Menzerna Nano polish is a fine mechanical polish/abrasive that I could try, based on what you just said, correct? But the Klasse AIO is a paint cleaner which is not as relevant, correct? I'm really looking for a polish it looks like, not a cleaner and not something that removes the clear coat with sanding.

  6. #6
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    Hi Steve,

    Welcome to Autogeek Online!

    Quote Originally Posted by stevehecht View Post

    This is my first post on the forum. I have a '90 BMW with clear coat aluminum trim. The trim is moderately oxidized and I'd like to spruce it up. The trim is in good condition except for the oxidation.
    Before you buy anything you need to find out exactly what it is you're working on.

    Is there anyway you can take a picture and post it to the forum? Even if you take a picture and e-mail it to me I'll insert it into the thread for you.

    You wish and hope it's bare aluminum because then you can actually work on it but chances are very slim this is the case. Most of the time if a company uses real aluminum for trim they anodize it and then there's nothing you can do after it goes down hill except to remove the trim, have it de-anodized, then polished and then either put it back on the car or have it anodized again. You can not polish an anodized surface.

    If it's some type of plastic surface and it's all cloudy, then if the deterioration is ONLY on the surface then MAYBE a light polish of some time will remove the deterioration off the surface which would then restore clarity to let you see the beauty under the plastic coating. Chances are good the hazy, clouding appearance is throughout the entire layer of whatever this coating is and if that's the case, working on the surface won't fix the problem.



    Have you tried anything at all yet?

    If not, do you own any kind of cleaner/wax? Or light paint cleaner? For example, ScratchX is a light paint cleaner. Or metal polish? \

    Something light but with either mechanical abrasives or chemical cleaners or both.

    If so, take a white cloth, like a towel or a t-shirt, and rub some polish/paint cleaner/cleaner/wax, etc. onto a small area and then turn your cloth over and see if you're getting any color or pigment or oxidation off the surface and let us know what color it is.

    Also check to see if this small area looks better or more clear.

    Usually if a little bit of rubbing doesn't improve a surface like this then a lot of rubbing won't help either.

    If a little rubbing makes it look better than usually more rubbing will continue to make the entire surface look better.


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  7. #7
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    Owning older BMWs myself, there is nothing you can do with the anodized aluminum but strip the coating and polish, then re-clear if you so desire. I fully polished the bumpers on an '86 535i and they came out looking great, almost like chrome. But it is a bunch of work and not necessarily a lot of fun on a non-garaged daily driver to keep up, since I did not re-coat them.

    Look on Google for "Classic TrimCoat" and you will see a product to re-clear the anodized trim, but I have read mixed results the results and durability within BMW circles.

  8. #8
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike.Phillips@Autogeek View Post
    Before you buy anything you need to find out exactly what it is you're working on.

    Is there anyway you can take a picture and post it to the forum? Even if you take a picture and e-mail it to me I'll insert it into the thread for you.

    You wish and hope it's bare aluminum because then you can actually work on it but chances are very slim this is the case. Most of the time if a company uses real aluminum for trim they anodize it and then there's nothing you can do after it goes down hill except to remove the trim, have it de-anodized, then polished and then either put it back on the car or have it anodized again. You can not polish an anodized surface.
    Mike, thanks much for the comprehensive reply. I am 99% sure that it's clear coated (anodized) aluminum. I will try to take a pic and get it over to you.

    I can't tell you how many different opinions I've received from folks on various forums about this. Autogeek's tech phone line told me to use Flitz Metal Polish, that it will be fine on clear coat. Someone else said to use Klasse AIO paint cleaner. From what you say below perhaps a fine polish is worth a try. Many people have told me that 'sanding is not necessary, just polish it'. I am 99% sure it's clear coated aluminum (anodized).

    If it's some type of plastic surface and it's all cloudy, then if the deterioration is ONLY on the surface then MAYBE a light polish of some time will remove the deterioration off the surface which would then restore clarity to let you see the beauty under the plastic coating. Chances are good the hazy, clouding appearance is throughout the entire layer of whatever this coating is and if that's the case, working on the surface won't fix the problem.
    My trim is not plastic, so I doubt that the oxidation is only on the surface of the anodized aluminum.

    Have you tried anything at all yet?

    If not, do you own any kind of cleaner/wax? Or light paint cleaner? For example, ScratchX is a light paint cleaner. Or metal polish?

    Something light but with either mechanical abrasives or chemical cleaners or both.
    I don't own anything like that, but that's why I thought the Menzerna Nano Polish might work, because it is a very fine polish. Someone on the VW Vortex said they used it on clear coat it and it worked well. Maybe there are even finer polishes out there that might work too. Do you recommend the Klasse AIO to try as a paint cleaner?

    If so, take a white cloth, like a towel or a t-shirt, and rub some polish/paint cleaner/cleaner/wax, etc. onto a small area and then turn your cloth over and see if you're getting any color or pigment or oxidation off the surface and let us know what color it is.

    Also check to see if this small area looks better or more clear.
    What color would the oxidation be if it was being removed? How do I tell if it's not something else like paint or pigment? (I don't think the aluminum is painted.)

    Thanks again. You seem to be saying that using a polish or a paint cleaner most probably won't work, but that's it's worth a try. The oxidation is not really apparent from more than a few feet away so if the fine polish or paint cleaner approach doesn't work I'm not sure I'd go with the Bavarian Auto product (a sanding/recoating approach) which is most probably the same product sold at Classic TrimCoat (see below).

    Quote Originally Posted by howejt
    Owning older BMWs myself, there is nothing you can do with the anodized aluminum but strip the coating and polish, then re-clear if you so desire. I fully polished the bumpers on an '86 535i and they came out looking great, almost like chrome. But it is a bunch of work and not necessarily a lot of fun on a non-garaged daily driver to keep up, since I did not re-coat them.

    Look on Google for "Classic TrimCoat" and you will see a product to re-clear the anodized trim, but I have read mixed results the results and durability within BMW circles.
    I have also seen mixed reports of the effectiveness of this product on BMW sites. Given the fact that howejt and Mike agree that polishing most probably will not work, I'm not optimistic but I guess it's worth a try. I might try two products (like Flitz and Menzerna) just in case one of them is helpful.

  9. #9
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    There's a HUGE difference between something that's clearcoated and something that's anodized.

    Anodizing is not a coating or clear paint on the surface, it's the electrochemical process by which aluminum is converted into aluminum oxide on the surface of a part.

    Once the surface becomes cloudy, whitish or dull, you have to de-anodize the part, fix the appearance issue, (polish the aluminum metal), then either bolt it back on the car and skip anodizing to avoid the problem in the first place, or have it re-anodized.

    I'm not an anodizing expert, I've had a few parts anodized, de-anodized and then re-anodized so I've been through the process before.

    I've also had a couple of buddies that had Drag Boats like mine only unlike mine with polished aluminum motor mounts and brackets they both had anodized motor mounts and brackets and their's were always dull and ugly. Mine always looked like chrome but that's because I was pretty good about keeping everything polished.

    It's really a lot of work to fix it the way described above. Most people will learn to live with it or find some other remedy like painting it and then taking care of the paint.

    It's too bad car manufactures don't make cars using coatings or materials that the average person can work on and maintain.

    I'll stick to my old Chevy... it doesn't get the best gas mileage but it's paid for so I mentally offset what I spend on gas as my car payment and the benefit is I get to drive what I like and no hard to work on trim.




    Seriously, if it's anodized aluminum then do some more research because I'm not an anodizing expert, but to date I've never seen or heard of any quick and easy remedies, only hard and difficult ones.

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  10. #10
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    Re: removing aluminum trim oxidation

    Thanks Mike. I've resolved to try using a DA on the trim even though I understand its success is doubtful. Replacing the trim is prohibitively expensive. I'm trying this based on the experience of a correspondent who told me he had good success on his clear coated aluminum trim using the PC 7424, Menzerna Nano Polish and a white pad. My question is: Does it make sense to start with an orange pad first and then move to a white pad? Would I need a less fine polishing product when using the orange pad? (Excuse all the questions, but I'm a noob at this--but motivated!)

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