Running Boards, Nerf Bars, Side Steps – Really useful tuning!

Today, many motorists want to create an original appearance, as well as improve the characteristics of their car. Trucks tuning is one of these areas, which has unlimited opportunities to improve the pickup.

With the help of tuning, you can significantly improve the car’s aerodynamics. Make it even safer for yourself and your passengers, as well as improve the passability and endurance.

Even the most nondescript small car can be significantly transformed thanks to such an element of tuning as running boards. It is the various steel side steps that not only serve as a decorative element but also protect and complement the car.


American Muscle

Side Steps

Side steps are parts that are installed below car doors (usually for trucks and SUVs) on both sides to allow easy cab access. They, in particular, make getting into the car less difficult and dangerous, especially for young children who are not yet able to reach the base of the door with their foot to get into the car. 

In any case, the higher the cab of a pickup truck or SUV is located from the ground, the greater the need for side steps. 

Pickup truck owners are particularly concerned with choosing an accessory such as side steps. For those who like to drive their car in an area with a complete lack of roads, the following characteristics are important:

  • fixing the side step to the body’s power elements;
  • reinforced brackets. When the car bottom touches any surface, the fasteners must not bend;
  • stainless steel elements of the side steps. High humidity and constant mudflow should not affect the appearance and reliability of the side steps;
  • high load capacity. The amount of vertical load must be able to withstand at least two people;
  • after setting the side steps, the clearance should remain unchanged. This is important when overcoming deep ruts and pits.

Different types of side steps

Running Boards

Running Boards are flat, continuous footboards made of various materials, including stainless steel, chrome, aluminum, or pressed plastic. These footrests provide better stability when entering and exiting the car. You can check out the running boards for Ram 1500 article, which covers some useful details.

Initially, due to their size and design, running boards were used to stand on them while cars were moving. For example, well-known (at least in American films) gangsters in the early 1920s stood on the side steps, aiming at the police and gangsters – “competitors,” and the car at this time was gaining speed.

When choosing from a large number of running boards, you need to consider several important points:

  • load capacity. The load capacity of running boards ranges from 300 lb to 500 lb. Naturally, running boards made of pressed plastic have a low load capacity, they are more likely to serve purely for decorative purposes, but their price is lower than that of metal running boards;
  • anti-slip protection. If the surface of the running boards does not have special rubber pads, it is easy to slip off, for example, during the rain;
  • size. If you have a quad cab, weighing about 2,000lb, then it is better not to install thin narrow running boards on it, because they will not exactly match the look of the truck, and it will look cheap;
  • color and style. Here, of course, everyone is guided by personal preferences, but we can say that the choice of colors and style of running boards is diverse. There are matte, shiny, black running boards. There are even running boards with LEDs, descending automatically when the door opens and are retracted back when the door closes;
  • installation. Will you be able to install the running boards by yourself, or will you have to contact the car service? This is important because some running boards can be installed when the car is on the ground, and to install others, you need to lift the vehicle. On average, it will take about an hour for a specialist to install the running boards. First, special brackets are attached (in the factory holes) to the bottom of the car using bolts (usually 3 pcs. on each side), then it is necessary to attach the running boards to these brackets also using bolts.
  • brand. Running boards are offered by companies such as Tyger Auto, APS iBoard, MaxMate, TAC, and others. Some well-known brands tend to set higher prices because of their reputation and excellent quality. But we can mention the Tyger Auto manufacturer because you can find running boards with low cost and excellent quality.

Nerf Bars

Nerf bars are curved round (3-4 inches in diameter) or flat pipes that are placed on both sides of the car (usually a pickup truck or SUV) below the doors. Nerf bars can be made of stainless steel, chrome, aluminum, fiberglass, and ABS plastic. They can be of different colors, depending on the final processing of the material from which they are made: chrome coating, polished stainless steel, aluminum, black polyester powder coating.

Nerf bars, just like running boards, help a person (especially an older person) to get into and out of the cab without any problems. The difference between running boards and nerf bars can be understood if you imagine the difference between a step on a regular ladder (when the foot is fully supported on the step) and a metal ladder up, for example, on a sports or children’s playground.

Most nerf bars have a load capacity of about 300 lb., but you can also find models that have additional support to carry about 500 lb.

Each manufacturer produces running boards for cars of a specific model and year of production, because all trucks, for example, have different shapes and sizes. This must be taken into account (i.e., know exactly the make of the car and the year of manufacture or the size of your vehicle) when choosing the nerf bars.

It may take about an hour or more to install the nerf bars. For installation, you will need (if you will install it by yourself) an electric screwdriver. First, we attach the brackets to the existing holes in the bottom of the car with bolts included in the packaging set, and then we attach the nerf bars to them also with bolts. If there are no factory holes on the bottom, you will have to drill them yourself. Please note that this is a common way to install nerf bars.

There are several types of nerf bars that owners of pickup trucks and SUVs like:

  • Wheel-to-Wheel nerf bars are much longer than other types of nerf bars. They are located on the sides of the car from the front to the rear wheel (on average, their length is about 100 in). The primary function of these nerf bars is to facilitate access to the cargo compartment of the pickup, as well as to help the driver and passengers get in and out of the car. As a rule, these nerf bars have inserts made of polyurethane, and some also have protrusions in the form of two or three steps;
  • Step Bars. They are small, curved in the shape of the letter U tubular nerf bars or small steps. Usually, they are installed in two pieces on both sides of the vehicle. Although sometimes they are installed only on the driver’s side. These nerf bars can help protect the sides of the car if the car is moving in a mountainous area, between rocks.
  • Oval nerf bars.

In any case, no matter what car you own, you can find several options and styles of side steps that will meet your needs.

Advantages of car side steps

  • The stylish aesthetic appearance of the car. Side steps for trucks and SUVs give the vehicle a more solid look and a special charm.
  • Side steps with a platform, create comfort when women and children get into and get out of the car.
  • The front and rear side steps protect the car body from dirt from under the wheels and scratches.
  • They serve as body protection in case of side collisions or incorrect parking.
  • If you want to improve your comfort and make your car more stylish, then you should buy the running boards.
  • Properly installed side steps with a platform, as well as running boards and step bars, can easily withstand up to 350 lb. of weight.

Often all SUVs go on sale with the factory side steps, but if they do not exist or they need to be changed, you can buy stylish and high-quality side steps for SUVs in the online store that will protect the car and give it an unsurpassed style and comfort.

Mounted equipment is far from the last place in the rating of necessary components for the car. At the same time, some elements of attachments have long passed from the category of aesthetic tuning, designed to improve and individualize the appearance of the car, to the category of useful and practical components.

Also, car side steps are not only additional protection of the lower body and interior from dirt, mechanical damage such as scratches or small dents, but also a way to make the car more fashionable and stylish.


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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