Which is Better for Truck Modifications: Aluminium or Steel?
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Which is Better for Truck Modifications: Aluminium or Steel?
Have you come across our blog whilst looking for truck accessories? You’re probably familiar with several suppliers, and have noticed that some of them offer predominantly steel products whilst others feature aluminium materials. Perhaps, you’ve been wondering which metal is better for off-road mods? Steel is the more conventional choice, but aluminium truck accessories are becoming more and more popular since they’ve entered the market. Both aluminium and steel are man-made alloys that have basic elements.
Here at KP Fabrication & Welding, we prefer the former over the latter.
In this article, we will explain why aluminium is always a better option than steel when it comes to truck accessories.
Overview of Aluminium Truck Accessories
In general, aluminium truck accessories are more expensive than their steel counterparts, however the benefits of aluminium outweigh its cost. It’s true that you can rely on steel for its strength, but it can give your truck the burden of its weight. On the other hand, aluminium is lighter and resistant to corrosion, therefore it does not require the same amount of maintenance needed for steel, especially in coastal areas. Generally, here are the advantages of aluminium accessories over steel mods:
Not prone to corrosion so it requires less annual maintenance
Better fuel economy due to being lighter in weight
Better resale value because it does not rust
Longer warranty for aluminium accessories
Production produces fewer greenhouse gases
Aluminium accessories are typically lighter than their steel counterparts by 40%. For instance, a truck bed made out of steel can weigh around 2,000 pounds, but in contrast, an aluminium truck bed of the same strength can be 800 pounds lighter. The difference can be useful for increasing your truck’s payload capacity, as when you increase your payload, you also save on operation costs. This means that there would be fewer trips needed to deliver products, allowing the same fleet to deliver products on time with fewer labour hours.
Since your truck accessories have lower weight, they can also offer other benefits, including better gas mileage. Those who have tried using both materials can attest to how smooth the ride is with aluminium accessories. What’s more, they still offer the same strength as steel materials. Just take the 2015 Ford F-150 as an example; its body is made of aluminium and yet it is still durable and reliable on the road. Because it is lighter than regular SUVs in its range, it also has better fuel economy. You can enjoy the same benefit when you turn to KP Fabrication & Welding and opt for aluminium accessories.
In general, pure aluminium offers one-third of the strength and weight of steel, and materials used for truck modifications are typically made of aluminium alloys, therefore it goes without saying that they are significantly stronger than pure aluminium. About 95% of the alloy’s makeup is composed of aluminium, whilst the rest is comprised of metals such as titanium, chromium, copper and zinc. In some cases, other elements like magnesium, silicon and lithium are combine processed with pure aluminium to make it as strong, if not stronger than certain steel materials. Overall, you can virtually compare the strength of aluminium truck accessories to steel materials.
It’s also worth noting that aluminium is used by NASA and the US military in building structures and vehicles that can withstand in some of the harshest conditions in the world. Military aircrafts from the US Air Force are also primarily made of aluminium. As a matter of fact, the famed fighter jet F-16 has an airframe made of 80% aluminium.
It’s important to note that steel alloys have significant amounts of iron, making it more vulnerable to corrosion. Typically, steel accessory manufacturers use different galvanizing techniques to protect their products, such as coating the material with a galvanic layer of zinc. While it’s true that zinc does not rust, the steel accessory’s protection only lasts until the galvanic layer is compromised.
There are some manufacturers who protect their steel products using paint, however truck accessories are always exposed to abuse. Trucks are used for carrying cargo and are constantly battling the harsh weather conditions of Australia, therefore it would only be a matter of time before the protective layers wear out and by then, the steel will once again be vulnerable to rusting.
You should also know that galvanizing is quite an expensive process, which can add up to the cost of manufacturing steel truck accessories. On the other hand, since aluminium has anti-corrosive qualities, it can be installed as is. It will be durable and strong enough to withstand the harsh Australian conditions, and of course will last longer than steel.
In general, aluminium truck accessories require less maintenance. The most significant problem you have to deal with is lubricating the latches and hinges, but apart from that, you wouldn’t have to regularly coat the material. In contrast, steel accessories need more maintenance to prevent it from rusting, and require frequent inspection to check for exposed steel, and for touch ups on the galvanic layer and paint scratches. Obviously, these practices can prove to be very tedious and time consuming.
You should also know that it can be more expensive to repair galvanised steel accessories. This is because the galvanic layer must be removed before you can weld the steel, as when you attach screws and rivets, you could risk damaging the galvanic layer. After the repairs, it would be imperative to properly finish the areas in question with a galvanic layer. More labour hours go into removing and reapplying the galvanic layer during the repair process. Since aluminium is now widely used in cars and pickups, many body shops are equipped to weld aluminium, so you shouldn’t have trouble looking for an auto repair shop that can efficiently repair the damaged component of your aluminium accessory.
Are you ready to experience the impeccable difference of aluminium? Well, contact KP Fabrication & Welding today!