If you’re in the market for a new trailer, you’ve likely noticed two different types of trailers as you’ve begun your search: aluminum and steel. These are the primary materials used to make trailers, and while it may seem like a small difference, there are pros and cons to each material. Each type of metal has different features that may suit you better depending on what you’re looking to get out of your trailer.
When it comes to the purchase cost, steel is definitely the winner. Buying a steel trailer is cheaper than an aluminum trailer upfront, but you’ll want to keep in mind that steel requires a little more upkeep than aluminum does. With a steel trailer, you may have to invest in repainting and rust-proofing it every now and then, whereas, with aluminum, a quick acid bath will generally help keep it looking good as new. For that reason, aluminum trailers typically have a higher resale value than steel.
That brings us to the topic of corrosion. Aluminum has better longevity than steel and is less prone to rust. It does oxidize, which is why the aforementioned acid bath is good for it every once in a while, but you won’t need to worry about as many preventative measures with aluminum. One important question to ask yourself is what kind of environment will you be using your trailer in? If you plan on driving your trailer on salted roads in the midwest during winter, then your trailer is going to be more prone to rust. Also, consider the type of jobs you’ll be using it for. If you’re going to be hauling livestock, it’s important to know that the acidity of animal waste can eat through steel floors and corrode them faster.
Steel takes the prize in this category. Steel trailers are stronger and more rigid, meaning they’re less likely to bend or dent. However, it’s still important to know that aluminum trailers are mostly aluminum alloys, meaning they’re made of a combination of different types of metals with aluminum as the main ingredient. Aluminum alloy is stronger than pure aluminum, and some aluminum alloys are stronger than others. While steel is stronger, once it bends, it’s tough to get it back into its original shape. While it doesn’t take as much to bend aluminum, its flexible quality means small dents and bends can sometimes be repaired. One thing to ask yourself here is what kinds of surfaces you’ll be driving on. Aluminum is less likely to bend if you’re driving on mostly flat surfaces, but if you’ll be driving through rough terrain, you may want to consider steel.
Finally, the weight is often one of the most important factors for people looking to purchase a trailer. The lighter your trailer is, the more weight you can haul. Aluminum is the best choice if you want to keep your trailer light, as it’s usually around 10-15% lighter than steel. A trailer with heavier weight means an additional workload for your truck, which in turn means your fuel economy won’t be as good. With aluminum, you can haul more in the same amount of time, and with the same amount of fuel than you can with steel.
Aluminum vs. Steel Trailers
In short, aluminum trailers are less prone to rust, lighter and typically have more longevity. Steel is cheaper and stronger. It really depends on what’s most important to you to say which type of trailer is best for you. Our staff at Kate’s Kars and Trailer Sales is here to help walk you through the process of deciding whether an aluminum or steel trailer suits you best so that you can put your new trailer to work as soon as possible. Contact us today to get started on figuring out which trailer is right for you!