Over the years, trucks have changed in more ways than one. Some of them good, some of them bad. Perhaps one of the worst ways they’ve changed is the result of companies making the switch over to aluminum based frames. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Ford. The working men and women who need their truck beds to not look like Swiss cheese after picking up a load of gravel would like to have a word with you. That highly-entertaining commercial where an empty toolbox gets pushed into the back of a F-150 with an aluminum bed and immediately punctures a hole in it? That’s not fake. Aluminum just doesn’t have the same strength as the steel frame (and bed) found on the Chevy Silverado.
Here are a few reasons why a high-strength steel frame is necessary, and why you should put your faith in steel — not aluminum. I understand that putting your faith into something holy is the right choice, but when it comes to the “holy” nature of the aluminum F-150, it’s a bad move.
If you can make it past that horrible joke, check out this video here so you get what I’m referencing.
Why High-Strength Steel is Necessary
The frame and body is perhaps the most important part of a pickup truck. Not the engine, transmission, chassis, suspension, tires, or touchscreen are nearly as important as the frame. Why? Because the frame directly determines how successful a truck will be in the scenario it’s typically bought for: working.
Without a strong, high-strength steel frame and body, you’ll be sorely disappointed to realize how poorly a truck will perform. Sure, the F-150 has a high-strength steel frame mixed with aluminum alloys — which is almost on par with the Chevy’s frame — but the body? They’ve crossed the line, and made it with a “military” grade aluminum alloy.
Going off of that fact, this lends credibility to the commercial we just saw. Aluminum simply isn’t as strong as steel, and if an empty toolbox did that to the F-150, what would cinderblocks do? Or a bucketload of gravel? Furthermore, what does that mean for the rest of the body? If it’s all made out of aluminum and it gets into a car wreck, imagine the damage that will be done to that F-150, compared to a Silverado?
So, why is high-strength steel so necessary? Simple – because people buy trucks for durability. That’s the primary reason. Talk to anyone on the job site and ask if they’d rather have a steel-body/frame, or an aluminum-body/aluminum-influenced frame on a truck, and see what they say. I’ll bet they’ll say they want the one made out of steel.
Aluminum is Lighter… Spoiler: No One Cares!
Ford’s argument is that their trucks are just as strong and durable, but help by saving on gas money. Here’s a spoiler: no one cares about fuel economy with a truck! Except for a small fraction of consumers who use trucks as a daily driver, but have no actual need for a truck’s versatility and capability. Something I’ll never understand.
Anyway, the working man and woman buys a truck for its durability and strength. We’ve already talked about (and seen) in that commercial that your F-150 aluminum body doesn’t hold up to steel. So, why would anyone who needs it for work buy a truck with a bed that can’t even withstand “impact” from a toolbox? Because it gets better fuel economy? No, that’s highly unlikely.
Not to mention, aluminum is a whole different animal when it comes to repairs, and a lot more expensive to fix. So, all that money you’ve saved in fuel? It will disappear if a repair is needed to the body or frame.
In the end, having an aluminum body makes the F-150 lighter and better on gas, but it’s the Silverado that still wears the crown for durability. Proving — once again — that it really is the longest-lasting pickup truck on the road.