What's my vehicle made of?
In the modern era, vehicle designers use all manner of materials to make the vehicle you drive every day. As the auto industry has evolved, it has incorporated more materials into its manufacturing. This produces vehicles that are more sophisticated, more efficient, and much safer. Many owners are curious as to the makeup of their current vehicle, remembering the cars of their youth being made of different material. Here are some of the current ingredients that make up the vehicles you’ll see on the road.
The most commonly used material in the manufacturing of cars is steel. Being cheap, readily available, easy to work with, and durable, it is the perfect material to make up cars’ chassis. Your engine, wheels, brakes, and exhaust are often steel. On top of its strength, steel is also flexible. This means that any impact will cause it to bend instead of break, increasing the vehicle’s safety in case of accidents. Finally, because it is resistant to rust, automakers use stainless steel for bolts, brackets, and exhaust ports.
Making up roughly half of new vehicles’ composition today is plastic. Auto manufacturers choose plastic for car interiors because the material is light weight and easily mold-able into any desired shape. Dashboard parts, gauges, switches, and other interior minutia are plastic as well, meaning they are easily replaced if damaged. Car makers choose plastic for bumpers and other body panels as well to keep prices down for lower end vehicles.
Lighter and stronger than steel, aluminum makes up body panels for more performance-oriented vehicles. It is, however, much more expensive than steel, so auto makers commonly do not use it in this respect. Aluminum engines are also lighter and offer a boost in performance.
Auto makers don't use iron much in modern car manufacturing, but they considered it the go-to metal for many years due to its weight and durability. Manufacturers use titanium to create lightweight, tough parts due to its high strength for its density. It is a more exotic choice of metal, however, so manufactures hesitate to choose it.