The replated chrome peeled off

June 1, 2008 | By Richard Beatty


I recently had the bumpers replated for a 1957 Ranchero. I received them wrapped in plastic, bubble wrap and cardboard. The following day I installed the rear bumper and found that there were no holes in the bumper for the license plate bracket. This bumper must have come off of a wagon or 300 sedan.

Rather than ship the bumper back and wait a few weeks for the correct bumper, I decided to drill two 1⁄4-inch holes myself by measuring, using a center punch and masking tape.

As I began to drill, the chrome came right off and curled around the bit like a cork screw. Work stopped then and there. The tape was removed to get a look and the chrome peeled off with the tape. I notified the plater and they said you never drill chrome. They also said they would replate the bumper for a fee plus shipping.

Is it correct that you can’t drill replated chrome? In the past I have drilled into bumpers with no problems.

Is the problem I have because of modern day replating or am I being led down the rosy path? Also, how do I care for replated bumpers? Frankly, I’m afraid to even wax them.


It is not a good idea to drill holes in, machine, or otherwise remove the chrome plating because you expose bare metal that is then very susceptible to corrosion. When you do have to drill or machine it is advisable to prime and paint the exposed metal to inhibit corrosion.

That aside, in my opinion there is clearly something wrong with the plating on the bumper you have. When done well, chrome plating clings to the underlying steel very stubbornly and should not lift up when a hole is drilled or when a piece of tape is pulled off of it. The surface was not properly prepared or something else was not done correctly and I don’t think you should bear the responsibility for this. A reputable plater should fix this problem without charging you again.

Though irrelevant to the quality of the chrome plating, it sounds as though you didn’t get back the same bumper that you sent out and I’m wondering why. I’m also curious as to why the bumper from a wagon or 300 sedan wouldn’t be drilled for a license plate bracket when the bumper from a Ranchero would be.

A bit of general advice is warranted— whenever possible, insist upon getting your actual parts back rather than purportedly identical exchange parts. It is

almost guaranteed that the parts you took off your car will go back on with little or no difficulty and the same cannot be said for exchanges, which are sometimes different enough from the pieces you removed to not fit exactly right.