Enclosed and Open Trailers by Mirage/TNT

There is a lot of debate about steel vs. aluminum trailers.

There is a lot of debate about steel vs. aluminum trailers.

This debate has been going on since some horse trailer manufacturers started using aluminum in the 70’s. Cargo trailer and small utility trailer manufacturers followed some time later. Aluminum trailer manufacturers claim weight savings, corrosion resistance, smoother ride, and longer life. I would like to point our a few comparisons between steel and aluminum and hopefully dispel some rumors and misinformation that has been passed as fact for too long.

Basic properties:

Steel is 66% stronger when compared pound for pound. This means it takes 3 times as much aluminum to equal the same structure as steel. Often times the weight gains claimed by aluminum trailer manufacturers are unsubstantiated when trailers are compared equally.

Steel has a natural memory, aluminum does not. This means when steel is flexed to a point, it returns to it’s original shape. Aluminum does not.

Aluminum has a much higher rate of metal fatigue than steel. This means that steel can resist flexing much better than aluminum. Aluminum tends to crack at flex points. This is why many aluminum trailers are bolted or riveted together. Aluminum welds crack much more easily than steel welds.

Steel trailers are much easier to repair than aluminum. Aluminum is much more difficult and requires more specialized equipment to weld.

Steel bends and stretches when impacted. Aluminum tears and breaks when impacted. This equals more extensive and expensive repair costs.

Aluminum resists corrosion better than raw steel. Fortunately steel trailers are not sold in raw steel form. They are typically painted with very durable finishes. There are differences in paint processes and materials and the better the coating, the longer it will last. One thing the Aluminum trailer manufacturers don’t tell you is that aluminum corrodes also. It is not as visible as it is in steel, but the chemicals and environmental conditions that affect steel trailers also affect aluminum trailers. The aluminum erodes and weakens over time.

Steel trailers are typically 20% less expensive than equally compared aluminum trailers.

Keep in mind there are many things we use every day that are made of steel rather than aluminum because of the reasons outlined above.

  • bridges
  • ships
  • cars
  • skyscrapers
  • construction equipment
  • cranes
  • military tanks
  • semi truck frames
  • trains
  • school busses

Please consider these factors when making your choice.

» by Trailerman.

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