Interested in Auto Body Training? 3 Differences Between Unibody and Body-On-Frame Construction

auto body technician training
Just about every vehicle today uses either a unibody or body-on-frame construction. In a body-on-frame construction, the body and frame are two separate components, with the body resting on top of a ladder-like frame. With a unibody frame, on the other hand, the body and frame are a single unit. While those definitions may seem simple, they lead to a lot of other differences.

What are some of those differences? Continue reading to find out three of the biggest ones.

1. Unibodies Are Heavier and More Fuel Efficient than Body-On-Frames

Perhaps the biggest difference between a unibody and body-on-frame construction has to do with weight. A unibody frame is much lighter than a body-on-frame construction. That’s because with a unibody, weight and stress can be distributed over the entire body. This reduced weight also makes unibodies cheaper to produce and more fuel efficient, which explains why the vast majority of vehicles today use unibody construction.

Unibody frames are made even lighter and more fuel efficient because they use lightweight materials. For example, after your auto body training you may find when working on a unibody frame that the frame itself is made up of aluminum and carbon fiber components. With a body-on-frame, on the other hand, the frame must support the entire weight of the body, which means it has to be built of much stronger and heavier materials, such as steel.

Ladder frames used in body-on-frame vehicles are heavier than unibody frames
Ladder frames used in body-on-frame vehicles are heavier than unibody frames

2. Safety Differences Are Why You’ll Be Working on a Lot of Unibodies After Auto Body Training

You might think that because a body-on-frame utilizes a stronger and heavier frame that it must be safer than a unibody construction. In fact, a unibody is safer than a body-on-frame! That’s because a unibody frame is designed to absorb the force of an impact. A body-on-frame is built of much sturdier materials, which means the frame doesn’t actually absorb the impact very well. One study even found that fatalities were 18 per cent lower for crashes involving unibody SUVs compared to body-on-frame SUVs.

However, for unibodies there is a downside to this improved safety. Because a unibody absorbs more of the force of the impact, it also sustains more damage when involved in a collision. That’s important to keep in mind if you undertake auto body technician training as it means a lot of the work you do could be on unibody frames.

3. Body-On-Frames Are Good for Tough Jobs Like Towing and Off-roading

Given that unibodies are lighter, safer, and more fuel efficient, you may wonder why automakers even bother with body-on-frame construction anymore. Body-on-frame construction actually does have a few advantages. For one, they are great for off-roading since the ladder frame is better able to withstand the extreme forces that rough terrain subjects it to. Second, because that ladder frame is so strong, it is much better at towing large loads. Those two reasons are why most of the vehicles utilizing body-on-frame construction today are pickups and large SUVs.

Body-on-frame vehicles are better for off-roading adventures
Body-on-frame vehicles are better for off-roading adventures

Are you ready to start your career in the automotive industry?

Contact Automotive Training Centres to learn more about our auto body repair courses!

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