Truck Steps: What You Need to Know
A Comprehensive Guide To Truck Steps
There are a lot of reasons why you may have decided you need truck steps for your truck. If you have got yourself a new ride, that first step is a big one, and a truck step will halve the distance and make cabin entry a lot easier.
Maybe it feels like your truck just keeps getting bigger and bigger, maybe the knees aren't what they used to be, or the kids need some help, but whatever your reason for installing truck steps, read on to find out what your choices are and how you can choose the best set of truck steps or running boards to suit your circumstances.
What the Different Steps Are Made Of
Truck steps and running boards are manufactured from durable metal tubes, which include aluminum, steel, stainless steel, ABS plastic, and fiberglass. The steps are bent to shape and sealed with welded end caps to protect against the elements. Step bars can also feature treaded pads that channel water away from the stepping area to create a non-slip surface, and some models feature rubberized foot grips for extra safety.
Aluminum Truck Steps and Running Boards
Aluminum is a top of the line material for creating truck steps and running boards that will handle whatever you throw at it, while also managing to look great for years. As you might expect, aluminum truck steps are the more expensive option but are an excellent investment if you regularly hit the dirt tracks. They typically have a textured cover or grooves that run lengthwise along the step and have a metallic look to them because of the chrome-like finish.
Steel Truck Steps and Running Boards
Steel is durable and is available with powder coating for improved stylish looks. If you primarily drive around town, steel provides a cost-effective option, but rust may reduce their lifespan if they receive any rough treatment.
Stainless Steel Truck Steps and Running Boards
Stainless steel is rust-resistant and the most durable material for truck steps, so it makes an excellent choice for all-terrain vehicles that will spend a lot of time in the wild. It also polishes to a high shine for when you are driving about town and need a sleek, clean look.
ABS Plastic Truck Steps and Running Boards
While this option is less expensive, ABS plastic truck steps provide a strength you can rely. ABS running boards don't have as long of a lifespan as Aluminum or steel running boards do, but they have an added perk in that you can paint these steps to match your vehicle’s color, if you desire to do so.
Fiberglass Truck Steps and Running Boards
Fiberglass truck steps, in the same way with ABS plastic, can be painted to match the color of your truck. It is lightweight by design, but you can increase its durability and lifespan by adding a steel plate on the underside.
Different Types of Steps Available for Trucks
When it comes to choosing the perfect truck steps to suit your needs you need to consider more than just what the steps are made of. You also need to take into consideration the type of truck step or running board you would like, as there are several different options.
- Nerf Bars Versus Running Boards
Nerf bars are pipe-like fixtures that attach to the side of the truck. The addition of nerf bars helps prevent some damage from rocks and gravel being thrown up by the tires and reduces mud splatter when driving in harsh terrain. Drivers who want to preserve the sleek clean lines of their ride as much as possible will generally go for the unobtrusive look provided by nerf bars. They are also a handy addition for helping keep the inside of the cab clean as they provide an area for scraping boots before entering.
Running boards extend the length of the cabin and are designed to be resistant against rain, snow, and mud. Like nerf bars, running boards also provide a convenient location for wiping dirty boots. Some running boards provide a stepping pad that runs the entire board length ensuring a good grip for your foot as you are getting in and out of your truck.
Oval Versus Drop Step Versus Tread Step
Oval nerf bars provide a greater surface area for people with larger feet. The rounded style of the oval nerf bar is preferred by drivers who are after a clean, slick look for their ride.
Drop steps provide the passengers and driver with an inbuilt step that sits a little lower than the nerf bar itself. They create easier access, but it is important to keep in mind that drop steps will reduce the overall clearance height of the truck.
Tread steps deliver a flat even, and secure footing for easy access to the truck. Unlike round nerf bars, tread steps offer more surface area for stepping and often include rubber molding for more grip in wet weather. Drivers who prefer to stay as close as possible to the clean, sleek lines of their truck may not appreciate the high visibility of tread steps.
These steps are long and sleek and present a nice clean line with your truck. They can be mounted flush against the vehicle’s body.
The curved truck steps are called this because they curve up at the front. This feature is meant to protect the passengers and adds more style to the vehicle. These steps come with a raised step pad to help prevent slipping at each door and provides a place for wiping off boots.
- Baja Steps
These steps provide high traction and maximum corrosion resistance, making them perfect for off-road adventures. .
The sturdy hardware on these steps is effective in stabilizing the steps once mounted. They usually feature a rugged-looking design to match any heavy-duty construction. Magnum RT Side Steps form fit to your vehicle or Jeep lower rocker frames protecting them from rocks while off-roading and from road grime on the street.
SSR boards are constructed of high quality materials and come in a variety of step area sizes so you can choose the size that best fits your needs. Its non-slip pads provide a sturdy footing regardless of the weather condition.
These boards are lightweight yet sturdy enough to handle all loading and unloading tasks. They are equipped with slip resistant step pads that come in various sizes.
Wheel-to-Wheel Versus Cab Length Truck Steps and Running Boards
Something that truck owners need to consider when buying truck steps is choosing between wheel-to-wheel (W2W) or cab length truck steps. This is an important consideration because the choice is more than an aesthetic one.
If your truck is going to spend a lot of time off-road, then cab length truck steps will give you more clearance over tough terrain, while providing the same level of protection against flying debris.
W2W nerf bars run the entire length between the wheels, stopping short of the wheel wells. They make a great choice for trucks that will be used as a work vehicle as they provide easy access to the bed, and additional leverage to get to those hard to reach items. Many W2W designs feature a third step as another location to provide secure footing.
What Materials Is Better for Different Types of Terrain
Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum
Stainless steel and aluminum nerf bars are the best choices for drivers that take their vehicles into more demanding environments. Stainless steel material is ideal for rough terrain and bad weather and can withstand years of sun and still maintain it's sleek look. The aluminum material can handle various terrains such as sandy off-road or rocky off-road.
The fiberglass and plastic step materials are great for urban environments, but not so great for off-road.
As you can see, there is a wide option of choices and styles when it comes to choosing truck steps and running boards for your vehicle. However, if you keep in mind the primary use of your vehicle and the visual style you prefer, it will be a lot easier to make the right decision.