Tacoma Underbody Aluminum Skid Plates Close Up

Close Up on Toyota Tacoma Skid Plates. 100% 5052 Aluminum

It’s a common debate among overlanders–steel plates versus aluminum plates. Which one is more beneficial? Which one is superior? With size, cost, and various positive and negative effects of both, there are several factors that need to be considered when choosing your rig’s protection. The best way you can make a decision when it comes to your vehicle is to come into it with a well-informed perspective of what steel plates offer and what aluminum offers.

Why choose steel?

You’ll find many sources that advise steel plates for the intense, rock crawling drives. If you anticipate rigorous terrain with high volumes of rock, then steel can offer a more sturdy option in most cases compared to aluminum. After a few bumps and bruises, the steel should hold strong and intact.

Another perk to steel is the cost. It’s generally cheaper than aluminum. This is an incentive if you’re on a budget. (However, customers find our aluminum costs are comparable to steel, if not cheaper in the U.S.!) Keep in mind steel is overwhelmingly heavier than aluminum (250% denser than aluminum). This can be an advantage or disadvantage based on the size and needs of your rig, but it’s always a disadvantage on fuel costs.

Underbody of Toyota Tacoma

Light-Weight Aluminum Underbody Protection

Why choose aluminum?

Many rely on aluminum for its wide range of overlanding protection. While it’s not meant for traversing over highly rocky ground, it will be a great option for your trailblazing and country driving.

Aluminum is much lighter than steel. And when you’re using plates that are half of the weight (sometimes even a third of the weight!) of steel, your gas bill will thank you for choosing aluminum.

While the cost may be higher, aluminum tends to be easier to work with. Many have noted the ease of being able to work with this lighter material and feel more self-sufficient with repairs. Should your plate bend or take on a few hits due to rocks, the ability to bend it back is a well-liked feature you won’t find with steel plates.

Aluminum is also a lighter metal that will not rust. Even though some will bring a counterpoint that aluminum does corrode, keep in mind that one layer of corrosion will be the extent, and no further damage would eat through the metal, unlike the continuous rusting of steel. And, with one simple paint coat, your aluminum should be protected. Steel requires additional care to prevent rusting damage.

Summary of steel vs. aluminum

Steel

  • Heavier and best for large vehicles/rigorous rocky terrain
  • Sometimes cheaper
  • Rusts and requires more maintenance to prevent future rust

Aluminum

  • Lighter and best for overlanding/“Ultra-Light” in Overland style
  • Comparable if not cheaper than steel
  • Does not rust
  • Easy to work with/repair

If you’re worried about the wear-and-tear in regard to reinstalling after oil changes and such, keep in mind all of our skid plates offer “service openings” that allow your rig to be serviced without disassembling!

Visit our store to find out more about the ultra-light armor ASFIR can provide you. We can’t wait to get your rig ready for its next epic adventure!