Thousands of individual parts go into making a car, each one of them performing a job necessary to make the whole machine work. In other words, there are thousands of opportunities to improve upon to create a faster, more reliable vehicle. With a variety of materials, design methods, and aerodynamic philosophies available to them, engineers are constantly looking for ways to improve their cars.
Within the past few decades, engineers have been increasingly using aluminum to produce parts because they’ve identified a few natural characteristics of the metal that make it ideal for automobiles. The innovative uses of aluminum in the auto industry create faster, more reliable vehicles.
Production of Performance Parts
Performance manufacturers use aluminum in the production of their parts. Aluminum is ideal over steel because it is lighter, and less weight means faster lap times. Especially with large car parts, when comparing the weights of aluminum and steel driveshafts, there can be up to a ten-to-twenty-pound difference—and that’s just for one piece. Aluminum is also used as a material in the construction of powertrains, chassis, suspension, fuel systems, and countless other performance parts.
Although aluminum isn’t as conductive as copper, it is lighter and less expensive, meaning that manufacturers often use it in the electrical parts of vehicles. The use of electronics in cars continues to grow with each passing year. Initially, the only electric thing in a car was the stereo, but now there are entirely electric vehicles where aluminum and other conductive materials play a significant role. The alloy most often used in electrical work is 1350.
Protect Against Weather Damage
Aluminum alloys are well known for being highly corrosive resistant. This is because aluminum is naturally reactive, but when exposed to air, a protective oxidized layer called aluminum oxide forms. This aluminum oxide layer protects the metal from rusting quickly in harsher conditions.
For those who live in northern areas, the cold winds and ice of winter can eat away at metal parts. Components can rust or crack, speeding up the time between needing replacement parts. After a partially bad season of driving in the winter, you might already need to change out a steel component. Therefore, mechanics will replace exposed parts with aluminum bits when winterizing vehicles.
As you can see, the innovative uses of aluminum in the automotive industry have been a critical factor in the advancement of car performance over the past few decades.