Is there any real difference in the rims that come on the sle that are painted and the rims on the slt that are polished aluminum? Is the painted more likely to have problems? Don't they look the same?
My 98 Grand Prix came with the polished aluminum wheels vs. the painted finish. In my opinion, the difference between the two is night and day...when the car is clean. I have some Maguire's tire cleaner/shine that i put on my wheels after I wash it....and it looks so sharp...along with putting some tire shine as well. For me, it's worth the upgrade.
The standard XLT rims are machined, which is much shinier than painted, but they are not polished, which results in an almost chrome-like level of shine. The optional 19s are polished. On my price comparison site I equate machined with regular aluminum wheels, while polished I equate with chrome. These wheel comparisons are necessarily crude, though, as there are many different grades of finish. Many chrome wheels these days are only "chrome clad," meaning they have chrome-look plastic fastened to them.
Painted aluminum wheels can be a real pain. If the paint chips or is scraped around the bead it can cause slow leaks. This has been my experience and that of several other people I know. I ended up replacing the factory painted aluminum wheels on my '97 Grand Prix GT with American Racing polished aluminum wheels. The original wheels developed leaks where the factory clipped on the wheel weights around the bead. I had glue on weights put on the new wheels just to be safe.