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Even the tiniest part can impact your truck’s uptime. Drivers looking for parts that will outlast their OEM parts are beginning to seek aluminum or stainless steel alternatives.  In this blog, we’ll discuss the difference between aluminum vs stainless steel semi truck parts to help you determine which one is the best for you.

Aluminum Semi Truck Parts

Aluminum is used in numerous truck parts, such as battery boxes, steps, and more. For decades, it has been a go-to replacement material for other metals. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not the best automotive material on the market today. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of using aluminum for semi trucks.

Advantages

1. Long Lifespan

This isn’t an advantage over stainless steel, however in comparison to metal this worth mentioning. Aluminum is more resistant to rusting and corrosion than regular steel. Thus, it offers a longer lifespan compared to steel. 

Other automotive materials used for automobiles, such as galvanized steel, can easily deteriorate when continuously exposed to moisture. This is especially true for semi trucks that frequent the salt belt.

1. Lightweight

Aluminum truck parts are generally more lightweight than steel and other automotive metals. This can possibly help increase fuel economy. 

2. Cost

Aluminum tends to be more expensive than steel, however, cheaper than stainless steel. It does however, take more skill as well as specialized equipment to weld. Even with these considerations aluminum tends to be cheaper than stainless steel.

truck-made-of-aluminum-parts

Truck made of aluminum parts. (Source: CM Truck Beds)

Disadvantages

1. Vulnerability to Salt

Contrary to popular belief, aluminum still corrodes, it just looks prettier than corroded steel. The combination of salt and water can expedite the corrosion process of aluminum. This means if your truck frequents the salt belt or the ocean side, your aluminum parts will be quicker to corrode. This is why here at Shoreline, we choose to build our Kenworth HVAC boxes with stainless steel. We also spot weld our boxes instead of using aluminum rivets for assemlby.

Stainless Steel Semi Truck Parts

Stainless steel is commonly used for truck parts like mirrors, sun visors, radiator grilles, and grab handles. However, because of its numerous benefits, it’s also used in other operational units, such as the HVAC system. 

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using stainless steel semi truck parts:

Advantages

1. Highest Resistance to Corrosion

Stainless steel has the highest corrosion resistance. In fact, it can last a lifetime without developing rust despite being exposed to moisture, water, and road salt. 

Aside from this, the chromium content of stainless steel forms a protective layer when exposed to oxygen. This also makes the stainless steel less vulnerable to dirt — another material that triggers corrosion.

2. Fabrication Ease

Stainless steel is a highly malleable metal. Its high chromium content makes it more ductile and less brittle, which means it can withstand extreme pressure without breaking. 

This feature is especially important for semi trucks. Since trucks are subject to numerous upgrades, they have various custom-fit parts that demand flexible materials such as stainless steel.

3. Durability

Aside from chromium, stainless steel is also filled with silicon and manganese, which increases its durability. When exposed to excessive stress and pressure, it will bend but is less likely to break. 

stainless-steel-hvac-box-semi-trucks

Sample of a stainless steel HVAC box for semi trucks

Most importantly, stainless steel can also withstand excessive heat without melting. This makes it a perfect material for heat-related elements in vehicles, such as the HVAC system. 

4. Eco-Friendly

Stainless steel is one of the most environmentally friendly materials in the world, as it’s 100% recyclable. In fact, studies show that more than half of the stainless steel used in the world today is repurposed. 

Aside from this, manufacturing stainless steel products doesn’t produce toxic waste. It leaves a significantly lesser carbon footprint compared to other automotive materials.

5. Offers the Longest Lifespan

Ultimately, because of its durability, malleability, and high resistance to corrosion, stainless steel offers the most extended lifespan among metals. It can practically last a lifetime when used correctly.

stainless-steel-coolant-tube

Stainless steel coolant tube

Needless to say, stainless steel is a worthy investment. Since it requires less replacement, drivers can truly get their money’s worth while enjoying the optimal performance of their semi trucks.

Disadvantages

1. Cost

Like other materials, stainless steel also has its downside. Some stainless steel semi truck parts can be expensive. However, as mentioned earlier, they require little to no replacement, which saves you from additional expenses later on. 

2. Scratches and Dents

While stainless steel doesn’t get damaged with high pressure, it’s prone to scratches and dents. Luckily, these scratches can easily be removed with sandpaper, specialty cleaning solutions, and other DIY procedures. On the other hand, the dents can be removed by exposing the surface to heat.

Best Material for Semi Truck Parts

Both aluminum and stainless steel are better than regular steel. However, it’s worth noting that with semi trucks’ continuous exposure to harsh weather conditions, their main problem is corrosion. And in terms of corrosion resistance, stainless steel is the best.

premium-stainless-apu-semi-trucks

Sample of a premium stainless APU for semi trucks

Secure a premium stainless steel Kenworth HVAC box that can resist corrosion from water, dirt, and salt. Note that moisture buildup from these things significantly affects the performance of your AC system.

It’s also highly recommended to get high-quality aftermarket parts made of stainless steel. Most AC parts experience wear and tear, which means they eventually deteriorate due to continuous use. However, stainless steel replacement parts mostly just require regular maintenance procedures and occasional repairs to maintain their optimal functionality.

Extend Your Semi Truck’s Lifespan with Stainless Steel Semi Truck Parts

When it comes to semi trucks, it’s essential to get high-quality parts with long lifespans. Conventional cab trucks are more expensive than other vehicles, so they can only be profitable if they maintain their optimal productivity for an extended period. 

Fortunately, Shoreline Truck Parts is helping to rid the trucking industry of rust and corrosion problems by providing stainless steel tubes, Kenworth HVAC boxes, and APU skins. With these products, truck drivers can get the most out of their semi trucks without worrying about costly maintenance and repair services.

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