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Unibody Structure vs Body on Frame: Which is Best for Off-Roading?

 photo by Petrichuk via iStock

The age-old question which seems to be surrounded by many misconceptions – unibody vs body on frame?

There are benefits to both structures and each one of them suits certain types of vehicles best. 

This article should address the misconceptions while also providing useful information regarding the two structures. 

What is a Unibody Structure?

Unibody Structure

 photo by Chesky_W via iStock

A unibody construction means that the vehicle does not have a separate frame that the body is bolted on. The whole structure is one piece, and every panel is crucial to the integrity and stiffness of the vehicle. 

What are the Benefits of Unibody Construction?

SUV

 photo by MarioGuti via iStock

The benefits of a unibody construction are that the whole structure is lighter, and a lower center of gravity can be achieved as the vehicle doesn’t need to sit on a frame. 

The drawbacks are that it is more expensive to manufacture, it cannot be repaired as easily. It can also be harder to modify. 

Unibody Structure vs Body on Frame: What is Body on Frame?

Body on Frame

 photo by Woverwolf via iStock

Well, as the name suggests, a body on frame construction includes a body that is bolted onto a chassis. The chassis is what provides all the mounting points for vehicle parts and the body while also being the crucial part of the truck’s structural rigidity. 

What are the Benefits of a Body on Frame?

Jeep at sunset

 photo by AlexD75 via iStock

A body on frame construction is a heavy piece of steel and because of that it typically performs better at towing as it is considered stronger.

However, here is where many people get it wrong – a body on frame construction isn’t stronger than a unibody construction. The same amount of material and weight would make a unibody construction just as strong if not even stronger than a separate frame one. 

Another benefit of a body on frame is that it typically provides better ride quality as the body can be separated from the chassis using rubber mounts that absorb vibrations. Furthermore, if you happen to damage a frame or if rust repairs are required it is far easier to work on a body on frame vehicle as the two parts can be separated. 

For proper off-road use, a body on frame construction tends to be preferred as it is much easier to fit big axles and suspension parts underneath them. The improved ride quality and ease of maintenance are also a plus. 

Unibody Structure vs Body on Frame: Which One is Best?

Jeep in the woods

 photo by RichLegg via iStock

You can’t really deem one of the two as best because it depends on the kind of vehicle. A normal car that will spend most of its life on-road will benefit from a unibody construction as it is lighter and therefore will increase efficiency. 

A truck that will see off-road use and towing is better off with a body on frame construction which will increase off-road abilities due to the ease of fitting big axles and long-travel suspension. You also have the added comfort and ease of service which are both crucial parts of a long overland trip. 

We hope this article has helped you better understand the differences between the two. If you have any questions leave them on the forum section of the page!

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