If you have a big truck or SUV without running boards, it can be difficult to get in and out of your vehicle, especially if you’re not so tall or are of an older age.
Luckily, there are a number of aftermarket running boards available on the market today. These will not only give you a boost into your vehicle but can also improve the exterior look and protect the side of your vehicle from scratches or dents.
Many trucks and larger vehicles already have specified mounting areas for affixing aftermarket running boards to. That means you probably won’t have to modify your vehicle to attach them – just bolt them on and go. Aftermarket running boards also won’t void your vehicle’s warranty, but it’s best to check with your manufacturer beforehand.
You can also easily install aftermarket running boards yourself, so you won’t need to take your vehicle into the shop if you purchase a set of running boards online – even if you’re of limited experience.
There are two different types of running boards: side steps and cab length running boards. A side step attaches to the rear of your truck just behind the rear wheel well, giving you a step to easier reach into the bed. A cab length running board, meanwhile, runs the length of your truck’s cab and makes it a bit easier to step into the cab. There are also nerf bars, which run the length of your truck’s cab but also feature integrated steps.
We’re going to go over some of the best running boards on sale today before answering some of the most common questions consumers have in regards to truck side steps and running boards.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: APS iBoard Running Boards
- 2. Best Budget Option: TAC Side Steps
- 3. Best for Crossovers: Westin Brite Aluminum Step Board
- 4. Tyger Auto Star Armor Kit
- 5. Ionic Stainless Steel Curved Nerf Bars
- 6. Tyger Auto Riser Running Boards
- 7. Lund Oval Curved Nerf Bars
- 8. Westin Black Pro Traxx Oval Step Bar
- 9. Bully Black Aluminum Side Steps
- 10. Westin HDX Drop Step
- What Are Nerf Bars and Running Boards For?
- What Types of Running Boards Are There?
- How Do I Install Running Boards?
- How Much Weight Can They Hold?
- What Are Running Boards Made From?
- Will Installing Running Boards Void my Vehicle's Warranty?
1. Editor's Pick: APS iBoard Running Boards
The APS iBoard Running Boards are available in chrome or a powder-coated matte black finish and in a number of lengths and diameters, giving you plenty of choices when shopping.
This product comes in at under $200 for a 5-inch set of running boards for extended cab pickups, making them more affordable than many running boards on sale today but more expensive than some budget options on sale.
The iBoard running boards also have a full metal construction, making them durable, and feature a low-profile design so they don’t get in the way when they are not in use.
Buyers of these running boards appreciate the modern-day design, slim construction and simple installation. Common complaints are that the boards can scratch easily and that the brackets and screws are visible once the boards are installed.
2. Best Budget Option: TAC Side Steps
The TAC Side Steps are an inexpensive set of running boards that are available in a number of diameters and for a variety of vehicle applications.
They are available in bright and black finishes and feature rubberized step sections for added grip. They easily mount to your truck’s existing running board mounting points and will prove to be extremely sturdy so long as they are mounted properly.
TAC says these running boards are built to a high standard and feature a 3-year warranty protecting against manufacturing defects.
Some consumers say the instructions included with these running boards are a little vague and difficult to understand, so you may need to look online for additional guidance if you are planning on installing them yourself.
3. Best for Crossovers: Westin Brite Aluminum Step Board
The Westin Brite Aluminum Step Board is unique in that it is universal.
This product manages to be “universal” as it’s sold in a variety of lengths, ensuring it will fit your truck whether it’s a regular cab, double cab, crew cab, long box, short box or diesel. There is one downside to this, however: you have to buy the mounting brackets separately, which are vehicle-specific.
With a no-nonsense straight step design, these running boards won’t upset the look of your truck or SUV. They also feature slip-resistant rubber steps and are available in brite, brushed or black finishes. Westin also sells as a light kit for the running boards, allowing you to install bright LED lights on them for added visibility at night.
Commonly reported downsides of these running boards are that they are difficult to install and aren’t as wide as some other steps. They are available for many different vehicles makes and models, however, and are sturdy once installed.
4. Tyger Auto Star Armor Kit
The Tyger Auto Star Armor kit is a unique-looking nerf bar that is available for not only popular American trucks such as the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500, but also other vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Titan XD, Nissan Frontier and more.
This nerf bar is tough-looking, featuring a powder-coated matte black finish with star insignia’s and the ‘Tyger’ logo cut into it. It can hold up to 500 lbs and will easily bolt on to your truck or SUV’s existing running board mount points. The running boards are made out of heavy-duty two-inch metal and feature a one-piece design.
One con to these running boards is the weight. Their heaviness makes installing them a difficult one-man job. We’d suggest asking a friend to help you install this relatively heavy product.
If you want a tough, nerf-bar style running board with a unique look for your truck or SUV, there’s no good reason not to get the Tyger Auto Star Armor Kit.
5. Ionic Stainless Steel Curved Nerf Bars
Ionic’s stainless steel curved nerf-bar running boards have a classic look that won’t look out of place on any truck or SUV.
These particular nerf bars measure 5-inches in diameter and feature cut-out step pads with grips so your shoes (or work boots!) don’t slide off.
The running boards, manufactured from stainless steel, are rated at 350 lbs. They also come with all the necessary hardware you’ll need for bolting them to the mounting zones on your pickup or SUV.
These running boards are relatively well priced and also come with a limited lifetime warranty that protects against manufacturer defect.
One con to this product are the mounting brackets – some consumers would rather mount their running boards using bolts instead of brackets.
6. Tyger Auto Riser Running Boards
The Tyger Auto Riser running boards/nerf bars have a more conventional design than the Tyger Auto Star Armor Kit above and are also a bit slimmer and lighter.
These running boards have a clean original manufacturer look and are available in bright chrome and black finishes. They measure four inches in diameter and feature non-slip step pads with UV-resistant black grips. Tyger also offers a no-hassle lifetime warranty, so on the off chance these running boards don’t last, you can easily replace them.
These running boards are relatively straightforward to install, simply bolting onto your vehicle, although some buyers reported issues with the hardware included and said the instructions were a bit hard to follow. The bars should remain sturdy when in use so long as they are installed properly, however.
7. Lund Oval Curved Nerf Bars
These oval curved Nerf bars from Lund are available in both four- and five-inch diameters.
Powder coated in a black finish, these steel bars are designed to be corrosion resistant and feature non-slip step pads. They are rated at 350 lbs and come pre-assembled (no two piece construction here) with all necessary mounting hardware.
Users have positive reports after using this product, but say the included mounting clips are a bit weak. They are easy to install, however, and are inexpensive, coming in at just over $150 for the four-inch model.
8. Westin Black Pro Traxx Oval Step Bar
Westin’s oval step bars are available for a number of different vehicles and are offered in both four- and five-inch diameters.
These steps feature no-slip step pads and come with all necessary mounting hardware. They feature an inconspicuous rounded design that won’t upset the look of your vehicle, especially in black, and are well-priced.
This product should also prove to be easy to install. One con is the three support bars that attach the bar to your vehicle – they can flex if you are very heavy.
9. Bully Black Aluminum Side Steps
While not technically a running board or nerf bar, these black aluminum side steps from Bully are also designed to make accessing your truck’s cab easier.
These side steps mount on your truck where the running boards would typically be mounted. They have a universal fit for most trucks and SUVs and feature a non-grip surface and a corrosion resistant a black powder coated finish. They are rated at 350 lbs per step and sold in sets of four or two.
These give your truck a rugged look, but aren’t as neatly integrated as conventional running boards or nerf bars. We also would suggest against getting these if you take your truck off-roading, as they diminish the ground clearance by quite a significant margin. You may also need to drill holes in your vehicle to install these, depending on the make and model.
While perhaps not as user-friendly as normal running boards, these side steps are inexpensive.
10. Westin HDX Drop Step
The HDX drop step from Westin is unique, mixing a rugged nerf-bar style look with a conventional running board to deliver a product that can give an aggressive look to your truck or SUV.
These running boards have a 1 piece construction and are made of die stamped steel, making them heavy and extremely durable. A mounting kit is included with purchase as well.
While these running boards look tough, some users say the powder coating began to come off after only a short period. The installation instructions are also a bit vague and unclear so you may want to get a hand from a friend when installing these – it can be a bit of a process.
What Are Nerf Bars and Running Boards For?
Nerf bars and running boards simply help you get in and out of a high-up vehicle easier.
While running boards are most often affixed to tall vehicles such as full-size trucks and SUVs, sometimes shorter people or those with limited range of movement will install them on crossovers and small trucks as they may still have trouble getting into these vehicles.
Many truck or SUV owners also appreciate aftermarket running boards for the tough, rugged look it gives their vehicle. As such, many running boards are designed to enhance the exterior appearance of a truck or SUV and come in multiple finishes such as chrome, black or brushed metal.
What Types of Running Boards Are There?
There are three types aftermarket steps for vehicles: running boards, nerf bars and side steps.
A running board is a completely flat step that mounts to the side of a truck or SUV underneath the doors.
A nerf bar, meanwhile, also mounts to the side of a truck or SUV underneath the doors, but feature cutout sections for the passengers’ feet. These sections usually feature rubber grips or a textured surface, giving the user extra grip when getting in and out of the vehicle.
Side steps are a narrow, single step that serve the same purpose as a running board. These can be installed on the side of a truck or SUV underneath the passenger doors, or behind the rear axle on a truck to help the user access the bed more easily.
How Do I Install Running Boards?
Installing running boards is usually a simple process, although you may want to have a friend help you out, as a second set of hands can be extremely useful if your running boards are heavy.
Many aftermarket running boards, nerf bars or side steps will come with instructions on how to install them. Many vehicles will have factory-drilled mounting points in the frame for mounting running boards, so all you’ll have to do is fit them in place and fasten them down with the hardware included with your running boards.
If your vehicle does not have pre-drilled holes, you’ll need to drill them yourself. We’d suggest getting a professional to install them if the holes aren’t pre-drilled, however, as you don’t want to compromise your vehicle’s frame.
In short, follow the instructions provided with your running boards for details on how to install them. You can also look online for how-to videos, such as the YouTube clip embedded below.
How Much Weight Can They Hold?
Most running boards are rated at 350 lbs to 400 lbs, but this differs from product to product. The most weight a running board will be rated at will be around 500 lbs, most likely. Because they are only holding body weight, it’s not likely you will need them to be any stronger than this.
What Are Running Boards Made From?
Steel is the most common material for running boards. Usually they are made of stainless steel, but some are also made of cold-rolled steel. Some running boards may feature rubber grips where passengers’ feet may go, along with rubber or plastic end caps to prevent water from pooling up inside.
Some running boards are also powder coated, usually in a black color, which helps to prevent corrosion.
Will Installing Running Boards Void my Vehicle's Warranty?
No, most likely not. It’s always best to check with your dealer beforehand, but aftermarket running boards will not void your vehicle’s factory warranty. If you are concerned about this, you can also see if the manufacturer of your vehicle sells a factory running board instead of opting for an aftermarket one from a third-party manufacturer.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.