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Posted by Michael Lamaster on September 09, 2014
Which Fender Is Better?
Many people ask when they think about purchasing fenders; "Which is better, steel, plastic, or aluminum?" There is no right answer, as each has their own pros and cons. Also, depending on their use, one material may be better suited to your needs and the environment you will be using your trailer in.
Steel fenders have been widely used since the dawn of the trailer industry, and because of this, are typically cheaper and more available in a wide variety of sizes and styles for customers to get. Also steel will hold up to dents, cracking, and other forces applied to them better than fenders made of other materials. They are however, much heavier and require a bit more prep work before they are ready to be applied to the trailer. Steel fenders will have a much higher chance to rust, and need to be painted in order to be protected from the elements (especially salt water if you’re outfitting a boat trailer) and help elongate their life. Steel fenders will take and hold paint very well and even if it is a simple clear coat, you will want to have this done before you mount these fenders. Browse our selection of steel trailer fenders in our online store.
Aluminum on the other hand is much more resistant to the elements and weather conditions than a steel fender. It is lighter overall and will provide you with a longer lifespan than steel with fewer needs for repair if maintained properly. Aluminum is however, more likely to flex and crack under pressure or weight than steel. Another big disadvantage of aluminum is that if you are planning to customize your fenders to match your trailer through painting, aluminum does not hold the paint as well even when prepped correctly compared to a steel fender. It is also generally a more expensive option to choose than both steel and plastic fenders but will still have a large selection of aluminum sizes and styles for you to choose from.
Plastic fenders are in a world of their own, with a much shorter list of pros and cons. Being plastic, they are typically the cheapest option for a fender, and will not be subject to much if any damage from rust or corrosion and will remain durable for a longer time. They will not dent, and rarely scratch, but once the material is broken (it will crack straight through) it is much harder to repair then reshaping metal. They also do not have as many options when it comes to the look of your fender. There are a few choices in the color of plastic used to make the fender (usually white or black), but beyond that it gets hard to find more exotic colors. Most plastic fenders are just a basic guard to help protect your trailer from kicking up debris both onto your trailer body and the windshields of those driving behind you. As many states do require fenders on a trailer, plastic fenders are a cheap option to satisfy these requirements. Plastic is also very hard to maintain a good paint job on if you decide to go that route. They do mount up considerably easier than either steel or aluminum in part due to the light weight of the plastic, and also do to the ease of drilling through on suspending from brackets. You can view our selection of plastic trailer fenders at our online store.
Identifying Your Fender Material
Just bought a trailer and are unsure of what material they are made out of? A few easy ways to tell steel and aluminum apart is the color, weight, and imperfections of the metal. Steel is a dull dark grey color, where aluminum will be a much lighter grey/white color with a bit of a sheen on it. Steel is also much heavier by volume than aluminum will be, even a triple axle aluminum fender will weigh roughly 10-12 pounds at the most where a steel tri-axle will be closer to 28-30 pounds. Aluminum is also one of the few ferrous (contains iron) metals that is not magnetic where steel will be, so any simple magnet will stick to a steel fender and not an aluminum one. Lastly, if there is a yellowish orange rust color you are most likely dealing with steel as aluminum will oxidize and leave a chalky white color instead of rusting.
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