The Anatomy of a Vehicle: What are cars made out of?

Updated Nov 19, 2020 | Same topic: Automotive FYIs

An automobile is made up of different components and materials, and here's a rundown.

If you think that the price range of a car highly depends on the numbers of its horsepower and torque power outputs, then you surely do need to hear this. A car is made up of numerous materials that are engineered together to make it functional and operational.

With that being said, these materials can differ depending on the intended design of a manufacturer. This is exactly the reason why cars have huge price differentials. Choosing a material for a car has trade-offs, but mostly relates to costs. Some materials are way cheaper than the other, while some materials are expensive yet more efficient.

So, what are cars made out of? We have listed a total of eight materials that are commonly used in today’s automotive manufacturing industry. Let’s talk more about it and see what can each material give to a car.

Rubber

Once in a while, we get to inhale the smell of rubber when we are out on the road. This is because rubber is the primary material used for tires. There are different materials used on tires such as wood, stone, fabric, and steel. However, these are not used in passenger and commercial vehicles. They are seen mostly on classic wagons or auto innovation facilities.

rubber car tires

Tires are essential in a car's operation

Rubbers are used for hundreds of years already and it seems like it will likely be used for more centuries to come. This material provides excellent benefits such as it can be filled with free air, provide great grip, it is lightweight, and easy to maintain.

Steel

Steel is the most common material used for a car’s structural components. Around 1,200 kg of steel is used on the cars we have today. This number can go up to 1,750 kg for larger vehicles such as an SUV or a pickup truck.

A car under a garage

Most cars are constructed with steel since it is affordable

This is used in a car’s underlying chassis, door beams, roof, and body. With its high strength, it can withstand most collisions that will keep passengers safe. The only downside of steel is that it’s heavier as compared to aluminum.

Aluminum

One of the most common benefits that most people are aware of is that aluminum is way lighter than steel. However, aluminum is said to be three times more expensive than steel. In terms of strength, steel is usually stronger than aluminum. But aluminum can be stronger than steel depending on how it is forged.

An alloy wheel of a BMW

Alloy wheels are the most common type these days

The reason why people recommend aluminum more than steel is that its lighter material construction will help you get a better fuel efficiency rating, saving you fuel in the long run.

>>> Related: Shoes for your ride: Steel vs Alloy wheels

Titanium

Titanium is primarily used in the automotive industry due to its good corrosion resistance, high strength, and low density. This is the reason why this material is used on high-stress components such as engine connecting rod, engine valve, valve spring, and exhaust system.

The only downside of titanium is that it is expensive. Many high-end cars come with titanium to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers in the event of an accident. To conclude, titanium kills the idea of practicality in a car.

Magnesium

Magnesium is lighter than common materials such as aluminum and steel. It is primarily used for weight-saving purposes. The most common components you can find magnesium are in the gearbox, seat frames, and fuel tank covers.

However, magnesium is only used in small portions of a car. The reason why it is used minimally is to avoid imbalance in a car. The center of gravity of a car is really important to not throw the vehicle when running.

Plastic

When being asked "What are cars made of?", plastic might be the most common material that come to one's mind. In fact, plastic is most popularly used in a car aside from steel.

This material has come a long way. In fact, the interior of some affordable cars is made up of plastic. 

Plastics are extremely lightweight in construction and it saves a lot of money in terms of production cost. You can find plastics in components and parts such as door handles, dashboard, interior trims, a/c vents, and more.

Carbon Fiber

If you are into auto mods or just watching auto shows, you would probably have heard of carbon fiber before. Carbon fiber is a common material used to serve as a lighter alternative to most car parts and kits.

A sports car's wheel

Carbon fiber will significantly help a car run faster

It is mostly used by high-performance vehicles to help them drive race tracks faster. This material is also used in some brakes due to its tough construction and stopping power. Many people dig carbon fiber not only for its lightweight construction but also its high strength and the aesthetic it brings.

Glass

Another common material used in the automotive industry aside from rubber is glass. This material is primarily used on windshields, side windows, and rear windshield. Glass will help provide drivers with better visibility while keeping debris out of the interior.

Interior view of a car

Be aware at all times as replacing a windshield can be expensive

Glass is also used for the side mirrors and rearview mirrors that will help drivers see the surrounding of their car.

Hopefull this post has given you an adequate answer to the question: "What are cars made out of?". Make sure to follow us at Philkotse.com for more helpful automotive tips and advice. Here at Philkotse.com, we value your interest in the automotive industry.

FAQs about car materials

Q: What is the common material used in the auto industry?

The most common material used in the auto industry is rubber. So far, no one has found a better alternative to rubber.

Q: Which one is lighter, steel or aluminum?

Aluminum is lighter than steel. However, steel is cheaper as compared to aluminum.

Q: What can carbon fiber do to my car?

Carbon fiber can help reduce weight in your car which would improve the power-to-weight ratio.

Q: Are cars made of plastic?

Most affordable cars are made up of plastics. The reason why plastic is used is that this material is cheap and easy to replace.

Rex Sanchez

Rex Sanchez

Author

Rex started off his career in the aviation industry before entering Philkotse as a staff writer. Two things excite him the most: first is staying up to speed with the latest news in the industry that uses engines as their heart and soul. The second is imparting them in a well-detailed manner. His passion for anything with wheels started when he was young – from Tamiyas to family-friendly sedans, and anything in between.

Someday, Rex only wishes to drive on random highways with friends in a third-gen Mitsubishi Delica with aftermarket sunroofs, if he couldn’t get the Starwagon Super Exceed edition.

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