Steel Vs. Aluminum Horse Trailer Weight

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Horse trailers can be made from steel or aluminum.
Horse trailers can be made from steel or aluminum. (Image: red horse trailer image by studio vision1 from Fotolia.com)

Horse trailers are used to transport horses and other livestock from one location to another. Originally, they were manufactured using steel, which had its drawbacks. Aluminum horse trailers became an attractive alternative during the 1970s and 1980s. They are still perceived to be the best when considering the purchase of a new horse trailer today.

Both steel and aluminum horse trailers are marketed. Each has it own benefits and downfalls. Aluminum trailers are lighter and can be pulled using a regular-duty pickup as apposed to larger steel horse trailers requiring a heavy-duty pickup.

Function

A horse trailer is essential to transport a horse over a long distance. Whether you are attending rodeos, shows or just out for a pleasure ride, a good horse trailer will keep your horse comfortable for the journey.

History

Early horse trailers were manufactured from steel. The original steel had problems with rust and deterioration, and a new trailer would have to either be stored out of the weather or replaced within a few short years. The trailers were also much heavier when manufactured by steel and would require more fuel for the truck to use to pull the trailers.

Aluminum horse trailers were a great improvement over the original steel horse trailers. Though much more expensive initially, aluminum does not rust. The life expectancy of the horse trailer was much longer and the lighter weight saved on fuel costs. Aluminum horse trailers are between 25 to 35 percent lighter than steel horse trailers.

A basic steel 20-foot bumper-pull trailer has a gross vehicle weight of 14,000 pounds. A comparable all-aluminum trailer would have a gross vehicle weight of 9,800 pounds.

Considerations

Today's steel that is used in horse trailers does not rust. New developments have led to galvanized steel as well as powder-coated steel that protects the metal from the elements. It is, however, still heavier than its aluminum counterpart.

Aluminum conducts heat rapidly. This makes it harder to keep horses comfortable during hot summer days. Also, if you do not keep the floors of your aluminum horse trailer clean, they will deteriorate.

The price for aluminum is much higher than that of steel, therefore an aluminum trailer will cost much more initially.

Warning

While aluminum horse trailers are much lighter than today's steel horse trailers, there are some problems that can develop in the aluminum horse trailer. Aluminum is weaker than steel. Welds may break through extended use. If you are in a small accident, the aluminum can tear, or shear, into sharp jagged pieces that can hurt your horse, while steel will contain more of the trauma of the same impact.

It is also more difficult to repair an aluminum horse trailer. Aluminum welding is a specialty and it is difficult to find qualified welders to do the repair, much less welders who have the knowledge to accomplish the task. Aluminum repair welds are never as strong as the initial weld.

Benefits

Overall, the higher initial cost of an aluminum horse trailer can be spread over a longer period of time. The resale value of an aluminum trailer is higher when compared to a steel trailer. You will also save fuel costs as towing an aluminum trailer is easier on the tow vehicle than a steel trailer.

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