So you think you’ve done all your homework before settling on the perfect drop hitch – you know your preferred drop, required towing capacity, and the ball mount size. But one thing catches your eye as you shop through various options…some are made from steel, while others are aluminum.

This can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the differences between the two metals. And a lot is riding on your hitch selection – literally and figuratively. Fortunately, the decision between the two can be broken down into several pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know to make the best decision when it comes to steel vs. aluminum drop hitches.

Why Choose Aluminum?

There are a couple main benefits to choosing aluminum, with one of those being that it’s lighter than steel. If you don’t mind picking up and carrying heavy weight, this probably isn’t a big deal. But, there are many situations where reducing weight by 10 to 15 pounds is a game-changer.

Perhaps the most common reason to choose aluminum is that it’s naturally corrosion-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about rust. For people living in humid, coastal climates or areas with hard winters and road salt, a rust-resistant hitch is a huge benefit. However, before we crown aluminum hitches as the superior product, don’t forget about some of the outstanding coatings that exist to protect metals from the elements. More on that later.

Why Choose Steel?

Regarding prices, steel is cheaper than aluminum, so expect steel hitches to be less expensive. Additionally, aluminum is not as strong as steel. Aluminum is more likely to bend and move under stress. And just like there are different types of steel, not all aluminum is the same. Without going down a rabbit hole, there are different grades of aluminum and some are stronger than others. Some companies choose cheaper aluminum and this is where you might hear horror stories about bent shanks and worn out parts.

This is where buying from a reputable company is critical. When you buy from a company that’s truly invested in its products, you can trust their hitches are made with superior components to withstand the required towing capacities.

Perhaps the biggest downside to steel is that it rusts. It could be next month or it could be years from now, but it will rust at some point with exposure to moisture. However, some advanced coatings used on drop hitches help fend off rust in the worst conditions imaginable. Again, this is where buying from a trusted company makes the difference between experiencing buyer’s remorse and owning a product you can trust for the long haul. This is one reason our signature wrinkle black coating has a 700-hour corrosion resistance rating – we need to know our products can withstand everything a customer could expose them to.

Making the Right Choice

At the end of the day, choosing between an aluminum and steel drop hitch is a personal decision. If you want the strongest material possible and don’t mind the possibility of rust, steel is an affordable choice. If you live in a humid environment and want a long-lasting hitch that’s lighter and easy to carry, aluminum will be the best bet. You might even find a hitch that seamlessly blends the benefits of both, such as an aluminum shank to reduce weight and a steel ball mount for maximum strength at the most critical point. No matter which metal you decide on, be sure to buy from a reliable company that stands behind their product. This ensures your hitch has been engineered and tested to provide a lifetime of service whether you choose aluminum or steel.