Complex Connections

Because trucking fleets expect their trailers to have a long and productive service life, trailer OEMs consider the details of the construction of those trailers – and the right fasteners play a key role. Although it may just look like a bolt, the proper fastener choice is not as easy as it might seem. There are a lot of tradeoffs, particularly when choosing between coated carbon steel and stainless steel fasteners.

Here are just a few:

  • Mechanical performance
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Cost
  • Compatibility with materials being joined
  • Installation techniques and challenges

Stainless vs. Carbon Steel

While stainless steel fasteners cost more, they are more corrosion resistant. However, if used improperly, they may promote or accelerate corrosion of any non-stainless parts that they touch.

Stainless steel bolts aren’t as strong as their carbon steel counterparts. A “common” stainless bolt would only be equivalent in strength to a grade 2 carbon steel bolt, and “high-strength” stainless steel bolts would be almost as strong as a grade 5 carbon steel bolt. However, when used properly they are well suited to specific applications and they don’t rust nor do they need to be coated or painted.

Because stainless steel bolts are not as strong as a grade 8 carbon steel bolt, carbon steel bolts are preferred when high strength is required in the fastener application.

Carbon steel threaded fasteners are usually used on areas of the trailer that are out of view, and they have finishes applied to their surface as a part of the fastener design to protect the fastener itself from corrosion. Depending on the type of finish, the corrosion resistance of a coated carbon steel fastener can approach that of a stainless steel fastener, and in many cases the trailer manufacturer applies an additional coating to the fastener after installation.

Making the Right Choice

Although this topic is complex, you can rely on the Great Dane engineering team to choose the appropriate fasteners for your specific trailer. With decades of experience, industry knowledge and access to technical data, the engineering team will select the right fastener for each application to ensure your trailer will achieve a long and productive service life.