The debate around ute tray materials has been raging for a while now. Ute owners need a tray that is strong and sturdy while remaining lightweight and affordable. Ute trays are mainly made using two materials, alloy and steel. Each material has its advantages and flaws.
Let’s start with alloy ute trays. In general, alloy ute accessories are lighter than their steel counterparts. This will cause a slight improvement in how easy it is to handle the car, as it will be lighter. The reduced weight could increase the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Alloy ute trays are also more resistant to rust and corrosion, as they are usually made from an aluminium alloy. Alloys have the advantage of maintaining their shape better in the long run. They dissipate heat better, which minimises the chances of causing a fire hazard when ferrying flammable materials. Alloy accessories are also considered better looking than steel accessories
Despite the advantages that alloy trays offer, they do have a few flaws. First, although alloy ute trays are light, they are not as high strength and sturdy as steel trays. They can only take little damage before getting destroyed, whereas steel trays can take quite a banging. Therefore, if bad roads are part of your daily commute, you should reconsider getting alloy ute trays.
Another point is since they’re lighter, the car chassis to safely hold more cargo weight. Unfortunately, while the vehicle can handle the excess weight, the tray might not manage it without collapsing. And due to their complexity in production, alloy ute trays are not only expensive for the manufacturer to produce, but also too costly to buy and repair. They may cost between 75% and 80% more than their steel counterparts.
Now for steel trays. As mentioned before, steel accessories are more sturdy and resistant than alloy accessories. This makes steel ute trays ideal for trucks engaged in activities that make them prone to damage, such as the building and construction industry, or areas with bad roads. Steel is much cheaper than alloy accessories due to its relatively inexpensive methods of production.
Steel ute trays are heavier than alloy trays, and therefore make the truck heavier, hence slightly reducing its fuel efficiency and handling. They make the car sit lower on the road, so while the tray’s weight can withstand rough driving, think about any ridges and rises in the road that may pierce the bottom of the vehicle. It could lead to undercarriage damage.
In the end, the choice of ute tray is mainly dependent on the preference of the ute driver. However, it is recommended that for drivers who carry out activities that require transportation of heavy materials. These materials may hit and destroy the ute tray, so steel ute trays are your best bet. If your cargo isn’t as likely to ding and dent your tray, and if your daily route is better paved, an alloy ute tray is advisable.
For added convenience and to combine the benefits of both materials, it is possible for a manufacturer to manufacture a ute tray using different materials for different parts. For example, trays can be made using heavy gauge aluminium for added strength, while the bolts, hinges and nuts can be me using stainless steel. This reinforces the build of the ute tray and prevents water damage. For an extremely tough ute tray, a combination of anodised iron an stainless steel can be used. The tray itself is made using anodised iron while the hardware is made from stainless steel. This sort of ute tray is ideal for off-road driving in the Australian outback.