A step bar, also known as a nerf bar, side step or running board, is a bar or board that connects to the lower side of a vehicle providing a step to assist you with getting in and out of your vehicle. To some degree, step bars serve to protect the side of your vehicle from ground obstacles while off-roading along with adding a sleek, stylish look to almost any vehicle. There are multiple types of step bars to choose from, here is a guide to help you take a step in the right direction.
Types of Step Bars
Cab length Step Bars: A cab length step bar is that runs the length of the cab. Beginning behind the front wheel well and ending near the back of the vehicles cab. Offering an individual step pad at each door. Most cab length step bars come in either a round or oval shape and sit within a few inches of the vehicles rocker panels offering a single step pad at each door. Cab length step bars are the most popular step bar on the market, as they serve the important purpose of assisting you in and out of your vehicle at an affordable price.
Wheel-to-Wheel Step Bars: A wheel-to-wheel step bar is very similar to that of a cab length step bar but, they starts behind the front wheel well of the vehicle and ends at the rear wheel well of the vehicle. Providing you with extra rocker panel protection, and in some circumstances, an extra step at the rear to help with ease of access into the truck bed. Wheel-to-wheel step bars normally come in either a round or oval shape and sit within a few inches of the vehicles rocker panels offering a single step pad at each door and in some cases at the truck bed.
Running Boards: Very similar to that of a step bar, but most running boards offer a step pad that runs the entire length of the board, rather than having an individual step pad at each door. Running boards run the length of the cab of the vehicle or also offered in a wheel to wheel length and are usually extruded to a square or rectangular shape. Offering a wide step area and good grip for your feet even when in wet conditions. Most running boards are at least 4” in width and sometimes offered in an automated option.
Automated Running Boards: These step bars extend and retract as the user opens and closes the door of their vehicle. Though automated running boards are costly, they offer more advantages over your standard running board. Higher clearance when not in use, they will not collect as much snow or mud, they are sleek, and they provide a large foot surface with good grip in wet conditions.
Truck Step: A truck step, rather than a step “bar” is an individual step that is mounted at each entry location of the vehicle and offers a step about the width of your foot. Truck steps don’t run the length of the cab but rather just the length of the stepping area. Truck steps don’t change the appearance of the vehicle as much as the step bars do. They also don’t take up as much ground clearance from the vehicle which makes these steps more for the off-road and ranching lifestyle option.
Most step bars come in either a black or chrome finish normally based on owners personal preference and also what goes best with the vehicles look. Step bars are offered in a couple of different material options including aluminum, Steel, Stainless Steel, and Plastic. Some black textured finishes will change the appearance and give you more of a matte, satin or flat look, and some black finishes give you a gloss finish. Another popular finish option with step bars is a chrome or stainless-steel finish. These step bars are a little bit more expensive but do offer that more “luxury” style look especially of your truck has chrome/stainless steel in other places.
Durability is also an important aspect to consider when choosing the correct step bar for your vehicle. The material, mounting position, and build of the step bar is going to be the determining factor of strength and durability. A steel step bar of course is going to be more durable on impacts than that of an aluminum step bar and most running boards aren’t going to serve any means of protection for an off-road enthusiast. An aluminum step bar is going to be a lighter option and a better option if you are just using it strictly for assistance getting in and out of your vehicle. Most step bars are mounted onto the vehicles rocker panels using a no-drill application. If you are looking for more of a rock slider step bar to protect from off-road impacts and rubbing, frame mounted step bars or rock sliders are more likely a better option for you.
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