Steel Dump Trailer VS. Aluminum: What’s the Difference?

Dump semi-trailers have always been the most in-demand type of trailer in the construction industry. As the construction industry picks up, so does the demand for dump semi-trailers.

Dump semi-trailers are usually divided into two categories: steel or aluminum. This is also one of the first important decisions you need to make before buying a dump truck. Because metals can make or break a job’s success, you must choose your materials wisely. The factors that make the choice can be considered from the following aspects: weight capacity, strength, durability, cost, safety, daily maintenance needs.

Pros and cons of steel dump semi-trailer:

Steel is an excellent choice for heavy-duty jobs. If the items you want to transport are abrasive materials like rocks and boulders, a steel trailer will work better. Steel, by far the denser metal, is the best choice for durability.



  • Cost: Steel is a more economical upfront investment than aluminum, and it’s easier to repair. If you’re on a budget, choosing steel is the best way to keep costs down.
  • Greater Durability: Steel is a thicker metal that can withstand harsh conditions or tougher cargo. If the road conditions are bad, steel is a better choice. Its durability keeps it from bending or losing its structure.
  • Ideal for heavy-duty jobs: If you frequently transport heavy loads, steel may be your only option. Because of its durability and strength, it helps to withstand enormous pressure. These pressures are beyond the reach of an aluminum trailer.


  • Repainting: Since steel trailers often load heavier loads, they may need to be repainted every two years. But if the trailer uses high-quality paint, you can reduce the frequency of maintenance.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Steel dump semi-trailers may consume more gas as their weight increases. Depending on the price of the fuel, the cost of refueling may offset the initial cost.
  • Weight: Different countries have different total weight requirements for semi-trailers. The heavier the body, the less the payload. The tires and fuel system may be more stressed, which reduces life expectancy. But because the price is cheap, it is reasonable to have a shorter service life.

Pros and cons of aluminum dump semi-trailer:

It is a new entrant to the market, disrupting the steel standards that many are accustomed to.

dump trailer unloading sand


  • Reduced fuel expenditure: Aluminum is lighter than steel, so less fuel is required. These fuel savings help you recoup the amount you spent upfront on an aluminum dump semi-trailer. For contractors who often travel long distances, these savings are hard to match.
  • Effectively increased load: Under the condition of constant legal total weight, the lighter the trailer body weight, the more cargo can be transported.
  • Minor corrosion: Aluminium has a natural property: it forms a protective oxide layer that resists rusting. This is very important for semi-trailers that are often exposed to wet conditions. This can help them avoid high maintenance fees.


  • Cost: There is no doubt that the upfront cost of aluminum is much higher than that of steel. For those on a budget, this can be a deal-breaker. Typically, aluminum dump trailers are about 30% more expensive than steel.
  • Less dent resistance: Since aluminum is a softer metal, it is easily scratched by cargo. And it dents and cracks easily when left unprotected.
  • Not suitable for heavier loads: While it does have a larger payload, it can be damaged if transporting heavy loads.

How to choose?

It mostly depends on your needs and budget, both metals have advantages and disadvantages.

But Three Horses Trailer independently developed a new type of steel: SH800, with the addition of molybdenum and vanadium alloys to further enhance yield and tensile strength. And other alloys such as antimony alloys are added to the steel to enhance the corrosion resistance of the semi-trailer.

This steel is lighter than normal steel but more durable. Compared with the high price of aluminum, it is cheaper and can reduce a lot of costs in the early stage.

If you are not sure which kind of dump semi-trailer is more suitable for you, you can also contact us and we will recommend it to you.

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