What Are Cars Made Out Of?

A lot of different materials are used in the construction of a car, but most modern vehicles include steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, or fiberglass components.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Many different materials are used to manufacture cars—from raw materials like aluminum, magnesium, and iron ore to alloys such as steel to processed materials like fiberglass.
The process of making cars has come a long way. In the past, very little attention was paid to things like recyclability and clean emissions. But thanks to decades of research, today’s automakers manufacture vehicles with improved fuel efficiency and durability, keeping vehicles’ environmental impact top of mind. 
Learning what cars are made out of is part of being a responsible consumer. It may even help you get a better deal if you’re looking to
sell a junk car for cash
Want to learn more about what materials are used to make a car?
, the
car insurance
comparison tool and
app you can trust
, is here to answer all your vehicle-related questions.

What materials are cars made of?

If you’ve ever bought a new car—or a used one—you might have taken the time to walk around your vehicle and examine it. Even someone without knowledge of auto manufacturing can tell that a car is made from a lot of different things. 
At a glance, you can see the vehicle body is made from metal, and the windshield is made from glass. And looking inside the car reveals various types of plastic, fabric, and leather
Here are some of the most common materials in car manufacturing and the ways they’re used.


Just about every car—no matter the make or model—uses steel in its construction. This metal is mainly found in car parts like the chassis, frame, body panels, door panels, roof, mufflers, and exhaust pipes. 
Known for its strength and versatility, steel is also fairly inexpensive compared to other metals and is easy to shape with tools such as stamping presses.    


Another common material used in cars is aluminum. Once used exclusively in the construction of exotic and luxury cars, today almost all new passenger vehicles include some aluminum components. 
Aluminum is more malleable and lighter than steel, which helps boost fuel economy. It is usually used under the car’s hood in the engine block, on the wheels, and on certain parts of the car body like the doors and hood. 

Carbon fiber

A carbon composite called carbon fiber is another material often used in auto body manufacturing. It’s both stronger and lighter than steel, but it’s also very expensive. Because of the price tag, it’s used almost exclusively in high-end sports cars, such as the
Audi R8
, to help them go faster and utilize engine power more efficiently. 
Carbon fiber is especially useful in the construction of brakes since its high-heat stability and thermal conductivity can improve a car’s stopping power from very high speeds. 


Fiberglass, a type of plastic that’s heavily reinforced with glass fibers, is another material that’s becoming more popular in the construction of modern vehicles. Because carbon fiber is fireproof and corrosion-resistant, it's often used in place of steel for cart parts that are more susceptible to rust damage or more likely to sustain damage in an accident. 
Fiberglass is most commonly found in car bumpers, doors, roofs, casings, and wheels. 
Jerry sends free alerts to keep your car up-to-date so you can avoid costly repairs
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score
Get ahead of my car maintenance
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score

Why are many modern cars still made of steel?

If materials like aluminum, carbon fiber, and fiberglass offer benefits such as improved strength and corrosion resistance, you might be wondering why so many automakers continue to make heavy use of steel. As it turns out, steel still has a few advantages over stronger metals and other materials.
  • It’s inexpensive. This helps keep the cost of the mass production of cars down.
  • It’s designed to crumple. Steel can efficiently absorb the force of impact in an accident.
  • It’s relatively lightweight. In general, lighter cars get better gas mileage.
  • It’s easy to repair. Steel parts are cheaper to replace than parts made from other materials.
Key Takeaway Carmakers continue to use steel in the construction of vehicles because it’s inexpensive, improves gas mileage, and can absorb impact efficiently.

How to find cheap car insurance for your ride

Most car manufacturers have research teams dedicated to finding new ways to ensure vehicles are both affordable and safe. But no matter what your car is made from, getting into a car accident is sure to cause damage. That’s why it's so important to protect your vehicle (and yourself) with a great
car insurance
If you need a little help finding cheap coverage, turn to
. As a
trusted broker
, the Jerry app partners with more than 55 of the nation’s top insurance companies to find you the best coverage and rates in less than a minute. Just answer a few questions about yourself and your vehicle to create a personalized driver profile, and Jerry will generate a list of affordable plans customized especially for you. 
Tap the policy and price you like, and we’ll take care of all the phone calls and paperwork to get you signed up. We can even help cancel your old policy. 
“Thanks to
, I went from paying almost $500 to a little over $200 with Travelers! I got identical full coverage for two cars. That is amazing!” —Jeannine Q.
Let Jerry find your price in only 45 seconds
No spam · No long forms · No fees
Find insurance savings


Most car frames are made from a combination of steel and aluminum, although carbon fiber components might be found in the frames of higher-end luxury vehicles or sports cars.
Steel is the most common material used across the automotive industry. In use for more than 100 years, this type of metal is durable, inexpensive, and has the ability to crumple on impact, making it safer than other metals in the event of an accident.
Estimate your repair costs for free with GarageGuard™
Simplify your car maintenance with Jerry.
Try GarageGuard™

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings