Why Fastener Material Selection Matters to Sports & Performance Automakers

When it comes to manufacturing high-performance sports cars, every single detail matters. From engine power to aerodynamics, each element contributes to the overall performance and driving experience.

One often overlooked aspect is the choice of fastener materials. While these small components may seem inconspicuous, their selection can significantly impact the vehicle’s performance, safety, and longevity.

Why Material Matters

When specifying C-parts and fasteners for sports and performance vehicles, engineers will typically be faced with choosing parts to withstand more extreme conditions and parameters than those found in regular automotive applications.

Some of the factors specific to sports and performance vehicles, which will ultimately determine fastener selection, include:

Strength and Durability
Sports cars are exposed to very intense forces, vibrations, and temperature fluctuations, especially during high-speed driving and aggressive manoeuvres. Fasteners need to possess high tensile strength in order to withstand these conditions without breaking or becoming loose.

Weight Reduction
Low weight is absolutely crucial in sports cars to improve acceleration, braking and driving dynamics. Fasteners made from lightweight materials contribute to the vehicle’s overall lower weight while maintaining structural integrity.

Corrosion Resistance
Sports cars can be exposed to harsh environmental conditions, including rain, humidity, and road salts. Fasteners exposed to these environments need to use corrosion-resistant coatings to prevent rusting and corrosion over time.

Heat Resistance
Some parts of a sports car, such as the engine compartment and exhaust system, can generate extremely high temperatures. This calls for fasteners made from materials that can withstand heat to prevent deformation or failure under extreme temperatures.

Aesthetic Considerations
In luxury and high-end sports cars, aesthetic appeal matters – and materials selection can make a big difference to a car’s overall design aesthetics.

Conductive Properties
Fasteners in sports cars can also play a role in electrical conductivity and is even more important when it comes to EVs. Proper electrical connections and grounding can be heavily dependent on material selection, ultimately delivering both performance and safety benefits.

Sound and Vibration Damping
Because sports and performance cars are often operated on the very limit, excessive noise and vibrations can easily transmit through to the cabin. Fasteners made from materials with sound-dampening properties are often used to reduce both.

Recyclability and Sustainability
With the growing emphasis on sustainability, some sports car manufacturers are increasingly looking to utilise fasteners made from recyclable materials or those with a lower carbon footprint.

Cost Considerations
Sports car manufacturers are always looking for performance. However, they still need to be profitable, which is why manufacturers may choose fasteners made from materials that offer a sensible balance between performance and cost-effectiveness.

Regulatory Compliance
Depending on the region and market, certain regulations and standards may dictate the materials used by the manufacturer. Fasteners must meet these standards to ensure the safety and compliance of the vehicle.

Material Selection

When most people think of fasteners, they probably think of stainless steel nuts and bolts. However, in reality, fasteners come in a multitude of different materials which are used in sports car production to address specific performance, durability, and aesthetic requirements.

Here are just a few of the different fastener materials commonly used in sports car production:

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel has long been used for its corrosion resistance and durability. It is often employed in exterior applications to prevent rusting and maintain a polished appearance.

Titanium is valued for its high strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion. It is used in applications where weight reduction is crucial, something which is highly valued by high-performance and sports car manufacturers.

Aluminium fasteners are super lightweight and offer great corrosion resistance. However, aluminium is generally not as strong as other materials which limits its use to non-load-bearing applications.

Lacking the protective oxide layer which makes stainless steel corrosion-resistant, steel fasteners are still used extensively in the manufacture of sports and performance vehicles. There are many reasons why steel may be chosen over stainless – for non-critical components for example, or where weldability is a priority. Alternatively, the choice could be driven by cost as steel is generally more cost-effective than stainless.

Whilst not a widely used material, brass fasteners can be selected for non-critical and non-structural components or for decorative applications such as interior trims. Brass fasteners also have good conductivity and can therefore be used in electrical components and grounding applications.

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP)
CFRP fasteners are lightweight and offer high tensile strength. They are suitable for applications where weight reduction and strength are priorities.

Certain plastic fasteners are used in non-load-bearing applications or for securing interior components. These include clips and retainers, grommets, rivets, plugs and trim fasteners.

Zinc-Coated Steel
Zinc-coated (galvanised) steel fasteners provide corrosion resistance and are often used in exposed underbody components.

Chromium-molybdenum alloy steel (Chromoly) provides excellent mechanical properties such as high tensile strength, toughness, and resistance to fatigue. These attributes make it a good choice for sports and performance-oriented vehicles, where it is used in a wide range of applications including suspension components, exhaust systems and roll cages.

Nylon fasteners are typically used in areas of the vehicle where electrical insulation and vibration damping are required.

Copper fasteners are chosen for their high conductivity and are used in electrical connections.

Nickel-plated fasteners offer corrosion resistance and are sometimes used for decorative purposes.

Zinc-Nickel Alloy
Zinc-nickel alloy-coated fasteners provide enhanced corrosion protection, making them suitable for exterior applications.

Magnesium fasteners are even more lightweight than aluminium and are used in specific lightweight design applications. One of the disadvantages of this material is that it can be more susceptible to corrosion compared to other materials.

Ceramic fasteners offer high-temperature resistance and are often specified for engine components and exhaust systems. The drawback to ceramic components is that they can be quite brittle and therefore not a good choice if impact resistance is a consideration.

Superalloys are a group of metal alloys that exhibit exceptional mechanical properties and resistance to extreme conditions. These alloys are designed to withstand high temperatures, corrosion, extreme wear, and other challenging environments, making them well-suited for use in high-performance engineering. One such super alloy often found in performance exhausts is Inconel, which is used due to its exceptional heat and corrosion resistance.


Because sports cars are designed to push the boundaries of technology and performance, it’s critical that designers and engineers optimise every single component – right down to the very smallest of C-Parts.

This takes a supplier partner who can deliver a full range of fasteners – from a conventional stainless steel nut and bolt, right through to a sophisticated bespoke component crafted from a super alloy.

That partner must also have specialist knowledge and understanding of the sports car and performance market. Critical in being able to collaborate, help and advise on material selection to ensure the very best outcome for the automaker.

Get In Touch With Auto-Fasteners Today

Auto-Fasteners exists to connect with its automotive customers as a partner, not just a parts supplier. Our aim is to really understand the problems you are facing, to collaborate with you and to help you solve that problem.

Get in touch with our team by clicking here to discuss your automotive fastener requirements.

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