I have seen these wheels where the clear coating starts to peel and corrosion gets under it. I personally would only powder coat them if it came to this point. My wheels don't seem to have the clear coating ('05). Is this an early model thing? Or are they all clear-coated?The lightweight forged aluminum factory wheels are too nice to powder coat. I'd buy an extra set of steel wheels and do them and use the same center caps. The thing with painting or powder coating anything black is that beyond 10' or so distance you just lose all the detail, whereas if left polished, you can still see the detail. The lack of attractive detail with a steel wheel can be hidden with the black, though. Just my $0.10 worth.
You need a powered polisher... Makes quick work of it and saves your hands, knees, back, fingers, & neck. After polishing, put on a couple coats of wax. You are right, virgin polished aluminum won't stay that way long.My '05 has clear coated wheels and compared to a set of uncoated forged aluminum wheels, they are so much easier to clean and look just as nice and stay that way longer. My uncoated forgings have been a pain in the neck (and hands and knees and back and fingers).