The Advantages of Steel: A Consumer Vehicle Shopping Guide


When shopping for a new car, truck or SUV, the ultimate goal is usually the best combination of price, safety, performance and value to meet your needs. This is a perfect time to understand the significant role high-strength steel plays in today’s vehicles.

If you’re already a savvy shopper who looks for high-strength steel on the dealership floor, you’re not alone. There’s a reason more than half the consumers surveyed by an independent research firm said steel was the most important material in their vehicle’s frame or body structure. And 43 percent said they would be less likely to buy or lease a vehicle from automakers who replaced steel with aluminum. There’s simply no other automotive material delivering value to consumers like today’s modern high-strength steels.

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, here are a few tips for being a steel-savvy shopper on the showroom floor:


Safety matters above all else. It’s the most important quality today’s consumers look for in a car, truck, crossover or SUV. It’s why automakers are quickly transitioning from traditional steel grades to advanced high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels, to cocoon drivers and passengers in unprecedented strength and safety.

When looking at safety, it’s important to ask questions about what kind of steel forms the “skeleton” of the vehicle you’re considering. Has the automaker used the most modern and strong steel grades in features such as the pillars, which must withstand the vehicle’s weight in a rollover, or the door beams bearing the brunt of a T-bone collision? In an accident, what’s between you and potential harm?


In addition to safety, the strength of today’s modern steels allows automotive designers to create roomier vehicles with more flexibility to provide better visibility for both drivers and passengers. When comparing new vehicles, pay attention to the strategic use of steel, which allows for bigger windows, smaller pillars, more spacious cabins and less obstructed sightlines.

This is one of the areas where alternative materials, such as aluminum, fall short. Designers have to use more aluminum to meet the strength of advanced high-strength steels, meaning they “bulk up” areas where designers who work with the latest steels can create slimmer designs without sacrificing strength or protection.


Environmental Impact

For drivers who care about their environmental footprint, there are numerous options to consider – and many of those go beyond fuel economy. Powertrains, vehicle size and other various factors can make an impact. When it comes to vehicle materials, the most environmentally friendly option is steel. Today’s higher strength steels mean vehicles need less steel to accomplish the same environmental goals by reducing the total volume used in a vehicle.

When it comes to recycling, nothing beats steel’s existing recycled content, its ability to be recycled repeatedly and indefinitely with no loss of performance, and the existing nationwide infrastructure ensuring every steel vehicle can and will be recycled.


The ideal scenario is a low cost of ownership, combining fuel efficiency and low repair costs with no expensive insurance requirements. If you’re purchasing a new vehicle, you want to be confident it will last a long time and ultimately retain its value as a trade-in.

If you’re looking for value, you should be shopping for a steel-intensive vehicle. Today’s advanced steels help provide unprecedented fuel efficiency through vehicle weight reduction without sacrificing safety. Virtually every auto body repair shop in the country can repair a steel vehicle with confidence. It’s not necessary to search for specialists to repair more expensive body materials, or to potentially pay higher insurance premiums to cover those repairs.

You can also trust strong and resilient steel vehicles to last longer on the road, perform to your demands and maintain value.

What criteria do you consider when shopping for a new vehicle? Let us know in the comments below.

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