Whether it’s an expensive sports car or an affordable subcompact, every car that you see will have been built with materials that tend to meet a few important requirements. These requirements are the following:
- That the material is light, to improve fuel efficiency
- That the material is durable, to help protect drivers in case of an accident
- That the material is as inexpensive as possible, to help keep prices affordable
There are a few materials that tend to hit the sweet spot of meeting all of these requirements, and allow manufacturers to make great cars for a relatively low price. Other materials, on the other hand, might have one stand-out quality, but offer less of an advantage where others are concerned.
Which materials are best suited to car parts? Here are three common materials you might see.
Steel May Be Fairly Heavy, But it Provides Necessary Strength
Steel isn’t the lightest material, but it’s relatively inexpensive, incredibly strong, and plays an important role in keeping a car’s occupants safe. Typically, most of a car’s frame will be built from steel, as will the engine, wheels, roof, and other parts where durability is crucial.
The use of steel is quite prevalent. In fact, it can account for about 80 per cent of the weight of a car. This is because many other metals are either too weak or too expensive to replace steel for many of its uses. For that reason, expect to see a lot of steel used for parts throughout your future career as an auto parts specialist.
Future Auto Parts Specialists: Aluminum Helps Reduce Overall Vehicle Weight
When possible, many automakers will make use of aluminum parts in their vehicles. Aluminum is much lighter than steel, and is also less prone to rusting. It is, however, typically more expensive to use, and not quite as durable. For that reason, aluminum is mostly used for parts like pistons, the transmission, brake components, and other smaller parts where bearing weight or protecting from impact aren’t as important.
Despite the heavier price tag associated with using it, aluminum has become more common in cars over recent years. As aluminum production and manufacturing technology improves over the course of your career, expect to see more and more of the metal used in the cars you work on.
After Auto Service College, You’ll See a Lot of Rubber Used for Parts
Cars look pretty sturdy, but it takes a lot of “squishy” parts to make them work the way we want them to. That’s where rubber becomes very useful. From tires, to transmission belts, to the many seals that are around a car (including in the engine, around the door frames, and in other spots), a mixture of synthetic and natural rubber helps keep parts moving or tightly sealed. What’s more, rubber is lightweight and inexpensive, making it a compelling choice for automakers.
Aside from plastic, which shows promise as a tire material, and which is already used by some manufacturers for various seals around a car, there aren’t really any effective alternatives to rubber’s uses in automobiles. Expect to work with rubber parts for a long time after finishing auto service college.
Auto parts need to fit a few important criteria, which limits the kinds of materials they can be made from. For that reason, expect to see a lot of steel, aluminum, and rubber used in the parts you work with in your career. They have many of the qualities automakers look for!
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