Side steps are generally used as a support for passengers to safely enter and exit larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks and SUVs. They also help to step up (pun intended) the cool factor on smaller SUVs and crossovers.
You may hear the term “side steps” used interchangeably with other names, such as “nerf bars,” “side bars” or “step bars.” No matter what you call them, you should research before making any purchases to find the best fit for your vehicle. Without proper vetting beforehand, you could end upwith buyer’s remorse.
Knowing Your Options
Accessories, such as truck nerf bars and running boards, serve the same primary function—providing safe and easy access to larger vehicles. There are, however, significant distinctions between the two options that can impact your decision-making. Power running boards, in particular, boast distinguishing features that greatly enhance the functionality and convenience of a step.
As you learn more about each type, there are some questions to ask that will help you make your final decision:• Will you need the step to run the length of the cab or from wheel to wheel?• Will you be off-roading or sticking to paved surfaces?• Do you just need the step to give passengers a boost or are you looking to add visual appeal?• Do you want the step to be fixed or to retract when not in use?
Nerf Bars vs. Running Boards
Whether you go with nerf bars or running boards ultimately comes down to personal preferences. Understanding the characteristics and available features of both options can help you choose wisely and with confidence.
Nerf Bars• Narrower stepping surface• Rugged look• Holds up to 500 lbs. (varies by manufacturer and material type)• Round with designated step areas• Mounts away from the vehicle with less ground clearance, making the step easier to use but more vulnerable to damage from off-roading• Basic features
Running Boards• Wider stepping surface• Sleek look• Holds up to 600 lbs. (varies by manufacturer and material type)• Flat with stepping surface along the entire length• Mounts flush to the vehicle with more ground clearance• Additional features on power running boards, such as retractability and lighting
Avoiding Wrong Sizes
There are two sizes to consider when choosing a side step: the length of the entire accessory and the width of the stepping surface. Nerf bars and running boards come in cab-length and wheel-to-wheel. Double-check your owner’s manual for measurement specifications. Getting the right size is key to seamless installation.
Many nerf bars and running boards come with brackets that affix to the factory-drilled holes on the vehicle, with no additional drilling necessary. If you do the installation yourself, stick to the manufacturer’s instructions. Making any alternations to your vehicle’s structure can void the warranty.
Select models of AMP Research PowerStep Running Boards feature a “Plug-and-Play” system that simply uses your OBD-II port to operate the step, saving time and installation.
Making the Right Decision
If you’re a truck, Jeep or SUV owner, chances are you treat your vehicle like gold. Taking the same care when choosing accessories will keep your prized possession in top condition. As you do your research, reach out to a trusted retailer for information about the latest and best options available for your vehicle.