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Frame vs. Chassis: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on December 15, 2023
A frame is the structural, load-bearing part of a physical structure, while a chassis is the base framework of a vehicle, including the frame and wheels.

Key Differences

The frame in various contexts refers to a rigid structure that shapes or supports something, like in buildings or eyeglasses. A chassis, specifically in automotive contexts, is the base frame of a vehicle along with its integral components like engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential, and suspension.
A frame is widely used across various fields, from construction to art, implying any structural system that bears load. The chassis, however, is predominantly used in automotive and machinery contexts, indicating the lower frame of a vehicle or machine, integrating key operational parts.
In architecture, the frame is the skeleton that holds everything together, be it a building or a piece of furniture. In vehicles, the chassis acts not only as the frame but also integrates key components, serving as the vehicle's foundational structure.
Frames can be made from a variety of materials (wood, metal, plastic) and designs, depending on their purpose. Chassis designs are more complex, often tailored to specific vehicle types and performance requirements, typically made from sturdy materials like steel or aluminum.
Frames have evolved from simple wooden structures to complex architectural designs. Chassis development has been more dynamic, influenced by advancements in automotive technology, leading to various types like ladder, monocoque, and tubular space frame chassis.

Comparison Chart

Primary Context

Used in various contexts (construction, art, etc.)
Specific to vehicles and machinery


Provides structure and support
Houses and integrates vehicle components

Material Diversity

Made from wood, metal, plastic, etc.
Primarily made of metals like steel, aluminum

Design Complexity

Varies from simple to complex
Generally more complex, vehicle-specific

Technological Influence

Evolution driven by architectural needs
Evolved with automotive technology advancements

Frame and Chassis Definitions


In photography and film, a frame is one of the many still images that compose the complete moving picture.
The director focused on the perfect frame to capture the emotion.


The base frame of a vehicle, along with its integral components.
The car's chassis was damaged in the accident.


A structure that provides support or border to something.
The wooden frame around the mirror enhanced its look.


Chassis refers to the frame plus the "running gear" like engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential, and suspension.
The sports car has a lightweight chassis for better performance.


Frame also refers to a person’s body with reference to its size or build.
He has an athletic frame suitable for sports.


In computing, a chassis is the case that contains the main components of a computer.
The server chassis houses multiple hard drives.


In terms of data or networking, a frame is a digital data transmission unit.
Each data frame contains important control information.


In radio and television, chassis refers to the frame holding the circuitry.
The technician repaired the chassis of the old radio.


In bowling, a frame is one of ten divisions of a game.
She scored a strike in the last frame.


In manufacturing, a chassis is a framework to which the working parts of the machine are mounted or attached.
The industrial robot's chassis was designed for heavy-duty tasks.


A structure that gives shape or support
The frame of a house.


The rectangular, usually steel frame, supported on springs and attached to the axles, that holds the body and motor of an automotive vehicle.


The structure or physique of a human or animal body
A worker's sturdy frame.


The landing gear of an aircraft, including the wheels, skids, floats, and other structures that support the aircraft on land or water.


What does a vehicle chassis contain?

It includes the base frame, engine, transmission, suspension, etc.

Where is the term chassis mainly used?

In automotive and machinery contexts.

Can a frame be non-metallic?

Yes, frames can be made of wood, plastic, or metal.

Is a picture frame a type of frame?

Yes, it's a structure that encloses a picture.

What is a frame?

A structure that provides support or border to something.

What's an example of a frame in sports?

In bowling, it refers to one of ten divisions of a game.

Is a bed frame considered a frame?

Yes, it supports the mattress and box spring.

Are chassis always made of steel?

Mostly, but materials like aluminum are also used.

Do frames have a role in electronics?

Yes, in the form of housing or support structures.

How does chassis design affect a vehicle?

It influences vehicle performance, strength, and safety.

Can the term frame refer to a person’s physique?

Yes, it can refer to someone's body size or build.

Do chassis have different types in vehicles?

Yes, like ladder, monocoque, and tubular chassis.

Can a chassis be part of electronic devices?

Yes, it can hold the circuitry in radios and TVs.

What’s the importance of a car chassis?

It's crucial for the vehicle's overall integrity and function.

Can frames be decorative?

Yes, especially in cases like picture frames.

Are window frames a type of frame?

Yes, they are structures around windows.

Is chassis relevant in computer technology?

Yes, as in the case of a computer server chassis.

Do motorcycles have a chassis?

Yes, they have a chassis that includes the frame and engine.

Is the term frame used in art?

Yes, as in framing a canvas or artwork.

Does the chassis include wheels?

It usually includes the base frame and wheels.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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