If you’re in the market to get a new trailer, you might have already seen the wide range of options available for you. Among these options, you can find that many of the trailers are made from either aluminum or steel. Your choice of materials can have an overall impact on the stability, security and durability of your trailer.
To answer the question on which one is better, you’ll need to check a series of factors:
Lightweight trailers generally have higher payload capacities. On average, aluminum trailers are about 10-15% lighter than steel trailers. This means that you can load heavier equipment or more items onto an aluminum trailer before reaching the maximum payload weight that your vehicle can tow.
The upfront cost of steel trailers is generally cheaper than aluminum trailers. But before you decide, you also need to factor in future maintenance costs for painting, anti-corrosion and general maintenance and other costs that may arise depending on your usage. For instance, if your area or travel destinations expose your trailer to salt on the road or salty ocean breeze, it will magnify the rust-forming tendencies of steel which in turn could compromise the integrity of your trailer.
Steel trailers are generally cheaper than aluminum trailers. But, to make a good purchase, make sure to factor in future cost for painting, anti-corrosion and general maintenance as they are unavoidable and their frequency will depend on your particular usage scenario.
Moreover, with a steel trailer, you need to conduct regular inspections so that you can immediately repaint any minor scratches. After each repair job, you also need to pay more for a proper finish to ensure that rust will not form on the repaired area.
Conversely, aluminum trailers are more expensive up front but they could give you savings for overall maintenance over time. You may need to do an acid wash every few years on your aluminum trailer but other than that, you will have nothing to worry about on rust or corrosion. Moreover, manufacturers typically give longer warranties for aluminum than steel trailers.
Aluminum and steel trailers don’t differ much in terms of strength per se but in their flex. Aluminum is as strong as steel. However, aluminum is more flexible which means that it will flex to a greater point and still return to its original shape before it would permanently bend. On the other hand, steel has a lower flex point and is more rigid. Rigidity is a strong point if you will be travelling mostly on uneven surfaces.
Aluminum is far superior when it comes to longevity as it is not prone to rust. Once rust has started, it will begin to eat away your trailer especially if you are near the ocean or in a wintry environment.
Which is the winner?
Both the aluminum and steel trailers can get the job done. But at the end of the day, if you want to save on cost, consider getting an aluminum trailer. If you are frequently passing through unpaved and uneven roads, a steel trailer may do the job better. The important thing is when making a decision to buy a trailer, consider what your needs are as well as the environment where you will be using the trailer.