It has irked me for some time that TrueDelta’s price comparison tool does not make finer distinctions in two areas: wheels and upholstery. So a few weeks ago I decided to undertake what I thought would be a minor task, and upgrade the features database to include finer distinctions in these areas and a few additional features that have only recently become common (and so weren’t in the original database).
This turned out to be an extremely time-consuming task that swallowed up a good chunk of my time for a few weeks. But it’s now done, and I can move on to pricing the 2009s.
In the next few blog entries I’ll discuss the upgrades. Today: wheels.
To date there have been essentially two levels of wheels: regular / machined and polished / chrome. Not only was I never comfortable with combining polished wheels and chrome wheels, but there are two types of chrome wheels. Some wheels are actually chrome-plated. Others are regular alloy wheels with a fake chrome plastic face attached, essentially a full-face hubcap that looks like a chrome-plated wheel. In industry parlance, these are “chrome-clad” wheels.
To further complicate matters, GM (and others to come) now offers a spoked steel wheel that uses a plastic cover to make it look very much like an alloy wheel. Most steel wheels do not have spokes, so that they were visible through the holes of any hubcap styled like an alloy wheel. GM refers to these much more convincing simulations as “fascia spoke” steel wheels. TrueDelta will initially refer to them as “alloy-look steel wheels.”
So beginning with the 2008 model year TrueDelta will classify wheels in the following ways:
1. Regular steel (no wheel listed)
2. Chromed steel (rare, on some trucks)
3. Alloy-look steel (spoked steel wheel with plastic cover)
4. Chrome-clad steel wheel (above with a fake chrome on plastic cover)
5. Regular alloy (painted, including those painted to be “ultra-bright”)
6. Machined alloy (alloy wheel with face machined to make it shiny; paint is a clearcoat)
7. Polished alloy (like above, but finely polished to make it almost as shiny as chrome)
8. Chrome-clad alloy (alloy wheel with fake chrome plastic face)
9. Chrome-plated alloy (alloy plated with real chrome)
Still not dinguished: cast alloy vs. forged alloy. Most alloy wheels are cast. They are formed by pouring molten aluminum alloy into a mold. Others are forged, formed by stamping and/or machining them out of a solid block of aluminum alloy. Forging yields a stronger, lighter wheel, but is more expensive. Maybe next time…