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Trailer Talk: Aluminum Trailers vs. Steel Trailers

Road with Mountains

Since the 1970’s when horse trailer manufacturers began using aluminum, there has been a debate about which type of trailer frame is better: aluminum or steel. Different manufacturers and trailer dealers will have different opinions on the matter but, the truth is, it all comes down to what you’re looking for in a trailer. Here are a few things to consider when deciding between an aluminum trailer or a steel trailer.

1. When it comes to strength…

There is plenty of back and forth when discussing the strength of steel versus aluminum. Steel is considered one of the toughest common alloys and is often viewed as the more resilient of the two, but this isn’t entirely true. Just like steel is an alloy of iron, the aluminum used in all-aluminum trailers is an alloy as well, giving them similar compositions. That means that, when it comes down to it, steel trailers and all-aluminum trailers are equally as strong.

2. When it comes to flexibility…

Rather than focus on strength, the real consideration should be about malleability. While aluminum is as strong as steel, it also has the ability to flex to a greater point and return to its original shape without bending or breaking. Steel, however, is more rigid and will hold its shape for longer than aluminum. If a majority of your trailer work will be done on uneven surfaces, then steel’s rigidness would be a greater asset. Otherwise, you’re probably better off with an aluminum trailer.

Bluebonnet Trail

3. When it comes to weight…

Because steel is generally 66% heavier than aluminum when compared pound for pound, steel trailers are the heftier and denser option. Aluminum is incredibly lightweight, making it easier to navigate on the road and onsite. It also means that, because the trailer weight is lower, you’ll be able to haul more and you’ll save more money on gas when transporting the aluminum trailer.

4. When it comes to corrosion…

Aluminum’s greatest attribute is its corrosion resistance. While steel needs to be painted or treated (and then repainted and retreated) to protect it from rust and corrosion, aluminum requires no further corrosion-resistant upkeep. This can be an especially large factor if you’re operating your trailer in a moist, damp, or abrasive environment (like Southwest Florida), where the paint or coating on a steel trailer will corrode faster.

5. When it comes to cost…

When calculating the cost of a trailer, it’s important to consider the long-term as opposed to fixating on initial, upfront costs. While the purchasing price for steel trailers is cheaper, one needs to incorporate the cost of corrosion maintenance. During repairs, steel trailers will also require a costlier, more proper finish in order to prevent rust. Because of this rust and corrosion, aluminum trailers tend to have lower maintenance costs, longer warranties, and higher resale values.

Still not sure what type of trailer is right for you? The experts at Tropic Trailer are happy to help! Call 239-482-4430 or 800-897-4430 and we’ll get started on finding the perfect trailer for your unique needs.

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