BMW Chrome Accessories – The Truth


Similar to M badges, there are many myths surrounding chrome accessories for BMWs. Probably the most common myth is that a product described as chrome is made from metal.

Chrome accessories can be categorised into four main groups:

* Chrome on metal

* Chrome on plastic

* Metal

* Painted plastic

Chrome on metal is what most believe chrome to be. This is where a metal substrate or base is plated with chrome. However, a large number of chrome accessories do not fall into this group.

Today, many original BMW items are chrome plating on an ABS plastic substrate. The quality of the finish of the plastic is critical to achieving a good chrome finish and BMW excels at this.

The likes of BMW 3 series E36 chrome window switch surrounds, BMW chrome SRS badges, BMW chrome door locking pins and BMW chrome gear knobs to name a few are all based on an ABS plastic substrate with a perfect almost mirror finish. As would be expected of chrome, they are also scratch resistant, hard wearing and will last for years. Using chrome on ABS also probably allows BMW to keep the cost of their chrome products lower.

Aftermarket plastic based chrome products never seem to be able to replicate the quality of original BMW products of the same type. The finish on many of them can only be described as average, whereas some are not fit for sale in my opinion. It is these products that have given the chrome on plastic concept a bad reputation.

Most vendors won’t mention in the product description that an item is chromed plastic as it frightens customers away who, often incorrectly, assume that the quality will be poor. Indeed some assume just as incorrectly that a plastic based product cannot be chrome.

Because many aftermarket manufacturers are so bad at the chrome on plastic game, maybe this is why they have turned to using other metals.

These are metals that have the bright and shiny appearance of chrome but are stainless steel, polished steel, polished aluminium or nickel to name but a few. These products are generally described as ‘chrome style’ and do the job very well. BMW even use nickel for their range of key rings.

Finally there are the items that are painted with a chrome or silver paint. In my experience, these are best avoided as I have never yet seen any of them with a finish that is anywhere near the quality that is required.