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Old 09-07-2015, 11:12 AM
roadkill los angeles
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 9
Unhappy Help! Anodized Aluminum Trim Oven Cleaner FIASCO!!


I've read in a few places that applying oven cleaner to cloudy anodized aluminum trim will restore its original shine. That seemed so easy as my trim is darned cloudy. Great! So I tried it out this past evening on my '84 300SD and the results are an utter FAIL. The trim looks WAY WORSE than it did a few hours back --- much more cloudy and blotchy and totally unacceptable. I now realize the posts I've been reading that refer to this magic oven cleaner resolution speak in the most vague of terms and never explain exact steps to take for the promised results. As for me, I first tried to spray it onto a sponge and wipe it onto the trim; no result. Then I sprayed directly on the trim and wiped the drips and overspray from the car. An hour or so later the tragedy reveals itself to me. I can't even look at it without my stomach falling out my a-hole.

Now certainly this is a problem in a general sense, as who wants crap trim on their benz, but I've been working all summer personally sanding the car down to primer getting it readied for a paint job scheduled in two weeks. If I'm going to try reapplying a caustic agent I need to do it before I repaint the car so not to damage the new paint. But also, my pride is on the line here; friends have been watching me go through this epic sanding project all summer long and are certain I've turned a crappy paint job into a hideous paint job. I know am going to prove them so wrong and it will be gorgeous, but this anodized trim fiasco will really get the hee-haws out of them and ultimately compromise the new paint job I've already put untold killer, sweat-drenched hours into. I'm panicking.


Can anyone confirm oven cleaner will remove the anodized layer from aluminum and give back its lustre? And if so, can someone explain just exactly how the cleaner is to be applied and for how long? An explicit run-down is what I'm looking for here, but I'll take generic how-to's as well -- anything to get the trim at least back to where it was before. The questions that came to mind as I began this bad idea were: how do I get the cleaner on the trim? how much cleaner goes on the trim? how long does the cleaner stay on the trim? do I wash the car to remove the trim when I think it's been on there a long enough time? what results should I expect after the cleaner has been removed and what further steps, if any, are required to get it to an acceptable finish?

The car right now looks like hell. While I could explain away the sanding a one step in the much larger painting process, I simply have nothing to say come tomorrow when people see the car, other than I F* it up.

And now I have to say I'm hesitant to go through with repainting as planned if I've ruined the trim. But I have to! I've sanded to the primer and it needs to be painted pretty much now. I don't know what to do.

Anyway, thank you for your time and insights into my traumatic morning. And please someone help.

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Old 09-07-2015, 12:20 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Southeastern PA
Posts: 2,993
Check some local salvage yards for replacement trim pieces. From what I have read there is no way to restore anodized aluminum trim. You would need to have it re-anodized, if that's even possible.
Fred Hoelzle
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Old 09-07-2015, 01:01 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Alhambra California
Posts: 2,054
Oven cleaner will not work. Anodized trim can be restored by a professional. If you decide to go with a professional, take all of your pieces at once as normally there is a minimum charge. Also make sure you get "bright anodize" as there is also a dull anodize. It is possible to simply have the trim re- polished without re-anodizing, but you will need to continually polish the trim.
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Old 09-07-2015, 01:19 PM
Stretch's Avatar a shield of steel
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Somewhere in the Netherlands
Posts: 14,453
I've used polishes like this before

Autosol Anodized Aluminum Polish 75ml Tube

They do quite well on the metal but tend to make the plastic look not so great which is a problem for W123/6 trim as it is often inbedded in the stuff - so you kind of go round and round with aerospace303 and then the metal polish...
1992 W201 190E 1.8 171,000 km - Daily driver
1981 W123 300D ~ 100,000 miles / 160,000 km - project car stripped to the bone
1965 Land Rover Series 2a Station Wagon CIS recovery therapy!
1961 Volvo PV544 Bare metal rat rod-ish thing

I'm here to chat about cars and to help others - I'm not here "to always be right" like an internet warrior

Don't leave that there - I'll take it to bits!
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Old 09-07-2015, 06:34 PM
roadkill los angeles
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 9
Thanks you guys. Such a bummer. Going out and looking once more it isn't quite so drastic as it initially came off in the morning light, but nonetheless needs improvement before I get that paint job... what brand of metal polish would you recommend? There's at least 6 or 7 different kinds at Pep Boys alone all of which claim miracle results.

I also read -- and this is likely just as quacked as the oven cleaner scheme -- the Goo-Gone takes some of the cloudiness away. Would this be something you recommend or shall I stay clear of things that seem too good to be true?

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Old 09-07-2015, 06:57 PM
roadkill los angeles
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 9
The aerospace303 looks like a good lead in general for overall protection, according to the 3M webpage. I'll also see if it might lend itself to a more healthy looking trim. Thanks for that tip as well.

In the meantime, searching the forums for "polish"....
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Old 09-10-2015, 04:34 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: TX
Posts: 3,606
there is no way to restore them without sanding them, you sand them with very fine paper till they start to shine like chrome, once that is done you then have to apply a coating to it for protection. like a clear coat.

I couldnt do that on my W124 as it has hematite finish anodized trim, I did find a shop that said they would restore it to the hematite finish but the larger back and front trims also need to come out for a good result which means I need to remove the glass and its not a walk in the park.

I believe the oven cleaner will severely blacken the trim out as it will rapidly oxidise the aluminium.
2012 BMW X5 (Beef + Granite suspension model)

1995 E300D - The original humming machine (consumed by Flood 2017)
2000 E320 - The evolution (consumed by flood 2017)
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:22 PM
rg2098's Avatar
Detailing Moderator
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Rochester Hills, MI
Posts: 2,415
There's no shortcut, pull the trim and have it re-anodized. Much cheaper then chrome (I was right about $500 for my entire 300D). It will be perfect and last another 30+ years.
Adam Lumsden
(83) 300D
Vice-President of the MBCA International Stars Section
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Old 02-16-2016, 05:56 AM
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Trevor Hadlington
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Worcestershire in England
Posts: 1,206
Sorry to sayy you wont get it to look as new now the finish is missing over time it goes bad. Polish it and varnish it was something i did on my beamer . Or try a carbon wrap on it ,you can see this on youtube .
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