Do aluminum trailers crack? (how to prevent and fix it)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Do aluminum trailers crack? We will explain why aluminium trailers crack and also help you prevent it. We will also discuss whether steel trailers are more resistant. 

Do aluminum trailers crack?

Yes, the aluminium trailer can crack, if there are plenty of stress cycles put into it. Aluminum is said to be weaker than steel, therefore trailers need additional reinforcement leading to an overall trailer weight similar to a steel trailer. Aluminum is also more prone to metal fatigue and shear and tear when damaged.

So, a steel trailer will not crack? 

Steel trailers, in fact, do not crack as often and as easily as aluminium trailers do. Choosing the material between galvanized steel and aluminum for your trailer could mean the difference between function, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 

Which are better: Aluminium or Steel Trailers?

Each type of metal has its own advantages and disadvantages that easily translate into the type of end product that they are used to making, in this case, trailers. Knowing and comparing the attributes of galvanized and aluminum trailers lead any towing enthusiast to make informed decisions about purchasing one.

Let’s see in the table below the main differences between aluminium and steel trailers. 

Steel VS Aluminium Trailers

Steel TrailerAluminium Trailer
Properties: Galvanized steel trailers are durable trailers. Steel is resistant to metal fatigue, more scratch-resistant, and easier to work with than aluminum. 
Steel is also a poor conductor of heat than aluminum which means that steel horse trailers could provide a more comfortable ride when transporting live animals such as horses.
The problems with a galvanized steel trailer are that it is heavier to haul and has a shorter lifespan due to being prone to rust.
Properties: Aluminum trailers are around 25 per cent to 35 percent lighter than steel, making them easier to navigate. 
Aluminum trailers are claimed to last longer than steel trailers as aluminum does not rust and painting and repainting is not required. Aluminum trailers are not without problems.
Aluminum is said to be weaker than steel, therefore trailers need additional reinforcement leading to an overall trailer weight similar to a steel trailer. 
Aluminum is also more prone to metal fatigue and shear and tear when damaged; Anything inside the trailer becomes a risk of injury or damage.
Maintenance and repair: Steel, even galvanized steel, is prone to rust, and therefore steel trailers require storage to prevent or minimize the formation of covered rust. 
Due to the threat of rust, steel requires periodic anti-corrosion treatment and repainting. However, despite more maintenance costs, steel trailers are easier to repair.
Maintenance and repair: Aluminum trailers appear to be almost maintenance-free, as they do not rust and therefore do not need to be repainted. 
When aluminum trailers are damaged, however, it becomes more expensive, as they are more difficult to repair, since it is a less plastic material than steel.
Costs:  Steel trailers are cheaper compared to aluminum trailers as steel is a cheaper material to work with. Repair costs tend to be lower than that of aluminum. 
However, the weight of the steel trailers combined with the maintenance costs make operations or hauls using more expensive steel
Costs: Aluminum trailers are more expensive than steel ones. The difficulty of repairing them also makes the repair costs more expensive. 
However, maintenance and use are more economical as aluminum trailers are lighter to tow and do not require repainting or anti-corrosion treatment.

Considering the facts regarding steel and aluminum trailers, the best option depends on what problems a potential trailer user can endure. As we mentioned already, aluminium trailers crack more often than steel trailers. But is this a break dealer for you? 

Other questions you may be interested in

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How to prevent trailer cracks: Aluminum cleaning and maintenance

In this section, we are going to develop a series of practical tips to carry out the cleaning and maintenance of aluminum trailers. To preserve its aesthetic finish and functionalities on the first day, it is important to take into account its periodic care.

The first thing is to recognize the surface finish of the aluminum element, lacquered or anodized. The method of cleaning and maintenance of aluminum must be appropriate to the dirt and the frequency of cleaning. Also, methods should be progressively tried from gentler to more aggressive until stains and dirt deposits are removed.

These tips are applicable to any aluminum trailer:

  • Never use acid cleaners
  • Do not clean the metal when it is very hot or very cold to the touch
  • Organic solvent cleaners deteriorate sealant materials
  • Before using harsh cleaners, the first test in a hidden area
  • Do not rub with abrasives to remove stubborn stains
  • Low-pressure water only
  • Warm water and mild soap
  • Gentle brushing and pressure water
  • Use butanone-based solvents with a soft cloth when cleaning. 

How to fix cracks in an aluminium trailer?

If it happens and you see a crack in your aluminium trailer (usually it’s on the roof so make sure you check it frequently), do not despair. There is a solution for everything. 

To do this, we need very fine-grained sandpaper or steel wool to polish the entire surface; a cotton or natural fibre cloth, to be able to clean the surface to be treated; and an aluminum polishing product. You can also use metal cleaning products such as magic cotton or other similar products, although you must rinse it later with alcohol.

Steps to follow:

  1. Polish any scratches. Use steel wool or fine-grained sandpaper to polish the damaged surface. We have to be careful when doing this because aluminum is a soft material and we can make the scratch worse.
  1. Clean the surface. Next, we dry the surface with the cotton cloth (which we will have chosen from a lint-free material). Then we apply water and neutral soap to remove any remaining residue and dry well.
  1. Polish the aluminum. The next step is to apply a small amount of aluminum polish with a dry, lint-free cloth. In the market there are different options that can be in liquid or paste format, you just have to choose the one that suits you best. 
  1. Now is the time to start spreading the product with care and circular movements, always overlapping our movements until the surface shines. Finally, we will clean again with soapy water and dry carefully.

Conclusions

Usually, aluminium trailers crack because they are not properly maintained and cared for. It is important to regularly check and repair your trailer, no matter how small the problem seems. Finally, if the crack looks too large for you to repair, it is best to ask for help from an authorized mechanic. 

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions about this content. 

FAQ on Do aluminum trailers crack?

How is aluminum repaired?

To repair any aluminium surface, follow these steps:

  1. Polish scratches. Use steel wool or fine-grained sandpaper to polish the damaged surface. 
  2. Clean the surface. Next, we dry the surface with the cotton cloth (which we will have chosen from a lint-free material). 
  3. Polish the aluminum.

Which is stronger: steel or aluminum?

Steel will hold about 4 times more impact than aluminum. Steels: are heavier than aluminum, they are also more resistant. Raw steel has the disadvantage of rusting so it must either be protected or made stainless.

Are aluminium boat trailers better than steel?

Many consider aluminium boat trailers better than steel, and we can see why.  All aluminium trailers are made of metal, except the axles and hitch. This makes them more durable.  They are more expensive than steel trailers and have a higher resale value even after years of use. Also, aluminum trailers are lighter than steel ones and can be towed easier. 

References