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Running Boards & Nerf Boards 101: Things to Know

BY Thomas S.

You love your truck or SUV for many reasons – its rugged good looks, off-road capabilities and the versatility that comes with that added cargo and towing capacity. One thing you and your passengers may not love, however, is how difficult it is to reach the cabin. If that sounds like a problem you’ve been experiencing, a set of running boards or nerf bars come in handy.

They provide the step up you need to reach your rig’s cabin with ease. Fortunately for you, AutoAnything carries an extensive selection of running boards, side steps and nerf bars to make your life a little easier.

But, if you’re having a little trouble deciding on which one is right for you, we’re here to help – with a crash course on everything you need to know. From common terms to the differences between lengths and material types and more, after reading this you’ll have all the knowledge you need to find the perfect running board.


What’s the difference between cab-length and wheel-to-wheel running boards?

Cab-length side steps are the most common option available and as you might guess, they extend the length of your truck or SUV’s doors. Wheel-to-wheel boards, on the other hand, run all the way back to your rear wheel well and feature an extra step that makes it just as easy to access your truck bed as it does your cabin.


How many step pads are on nerf bars for my truck or SUV?

Typically, nerf bars utilize a step pad beneath each seating row to make reaching your cabin even more convenient. For example, SUV nerf bars usually have two step pads per bar. Trucks, on the other hand, are slightly different. Standard cab trucks and extended cabs often have one step pad, whereas large extended cabs, crew cabs and quad cabs have two. Wheel-to-wheel and dually nerf bars include an extra pad at the rear wheel well.


What do the recesses on my running boards do?

“Recesses” refer to the dips that have been pressed into the tubing where step pads are then mounted. This design is stronger and resists rust and corrosion better than the cutout design that used to be more common.


How much weight can my running boards or nerf bars support?

Your average nerf bar is capable of supporting roughly 300 lbs at a time. The capacity of running boards can vary depending on the model but, thanks to integrated aluminum frames, most can support up to 500 lbs.


Cold-rolled carbon steel vs. stainless steel running boards

Running boards are conventionally made from steel for its many benefits. Now the question is, do you choose cold-rolled carbon steel or stainless steel? First, carbon steel is a steel alloy with lowered requirements for metals typical of stainless alloys. This type of steel is more prone to corrosion despite their powder coating. Stainless steel, on the other hand, provides both the strength of steel and enhanced corrosion-resistance. Also capable of being polished to a bright shine, stainless steel usually includes nickel and/or chromium in the alloy mixture to eliminate the potential for rusting.


What are the benefits of powder-coated running boards or nerf bars?

Conventionally done in gloss-black, powder-coating is an extremely popular process for treating a metal with a uniform color that’s chip-, scratch- and corrosion-resistant. The process is completed by spraying the metal with fine dry resin particles that are electrostatically charged to stick to the surface. The metal is then baked at 400° F, melting the clinging particles into a smooth, durable finish that will look good for years to come.


Will installing running boards void my truck’s rust warranty?

Fortunately, the vast majority of side steps and running boards available on our site easily bolt-on to your factory mounting positions. Since this is the approved place for attaching their own side steps, mounting our running boards or nerf bars will not void your vehicle’s warranty.

Now that you know a little more about running boards, side steps and nerf bars, you’re ready to search our site and determine the one that’s right for you. So, don’t delay and shop our extensive selection today.

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