Why Is Steel Used for Car Bodies?

by Thomas James

Steel is commonly used in the construction of the chassis and body panels of trucks and automobiles. The reason for steel's use in the automotive sector is steel's unique set of characteristics as a construction material.

Material Properties

Steel is very hard and strong.

Steel consists mainly of iron with a small amount -- between 0.2 and 2.1 percent -- of carbon. Steel is very hard and strong. Steel has a very high strength to weight ratio. All these properties make it suitable as a material for car bodies. Steel is often alloyed with small quantities of manganese, chromium, tungsten and vanadium to make it even stronger.

Ease of Manufacture

Steel is able to be shaped and poured to form specific parts of a car.

Because steel is malleable, it is capable of being shaped into the forms needed to create the chassis and body panels of automobiles. Steel is able to be poured into molds and cooled to create other forms, such as an engine block. And steel is easy to bond together using welding techniques.

Cost

Steel is relatively low cost.

The price of steel is low relative to many other metals. Although aluminum is lighter than steel and has a similar strength-to-weight ratio, it is significantly more expensive and so is only used in high-end automobiles. Steel is plentiful and cheap. When combined with its material characteristics and its malleability, these factors make it an ideal choice for car bodies.

About the Author

Thomas James has been writing professionally since 2008. His work has appeared on the science-fiction blog Futurismic. He writes about technology, economics, management, science fiction, politics and philosophy. James graduated from Trinity Catholic School and holds A-levels in physics, maths, chemistry and an AS-level in English language.

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