Why Buy Nerf Bars?
Side tubes, nerf bars, nerf bars, running boards. Whatever you call 'em, they look great and work even better. The need for side steps has grown as trucks and SUVs have gotten taller. You'll discover a number of features and benefits with a set of side steps, including:
- An extra boost up into your cab
- Safe stepping in any weather
- A variety of shapes and styles
- Heavy-duty materials for overall strength
- A multitude of finish choices for a smooth and tough appearance
- Sturdy mounting in a matter of minutes
A guide to the extra boost provided by nerf bars
Whether you've got a low-rolling midsize SUV or a monster truck, you could probably use a solid step beneath your door for an extra boost when you need it. Nerf bars and running boards can be a welcome sight after a tiring day at the job site or an energy-sapping stint at the office.
Think of your other riders, too. The sturdy stepping place provided by a set of nerf bars or running boards is a great measure of safety and peace of mind for your younger or older passengers.
Running boards are built to handle frequent use, too. Like most of AutoAnything's truck and SUV accessories, they bolt-on to your vehicle in a pre-existing mounting position on the frame. This makes for sturdy installation that can handle whatever your passengers' feet dish out.
Side steps also boast incredible weight capacity. The typical set of nerf bars can hold 300 lbs or more at a time, supported by the steel construction and heavy-duty frame mount brackets. Most running boards boast an aluminum support frame beneath the stepping surface, giving these side steps a weight capacity of up to 500 lbs.
The basics of safe stepping in any weather with nerf bars
Wet weather can make for unstable footing everywhere. That's why nerf bars, side steps and running boards feature treaded pads that help you get a grip on the step before climbing into your vehicle. These all-weather pads feature a grooved design that channels water away from the stepping surface.
Beyond providing a non-slip surface for stepping, nerf bars and running boards keep the mess from getting to your vehicle's carpet. The treaded pad is an excellent place to wipe your feet, while the tube or board itself becomes an ingenious tool for knocking off the mud.
The all-weather step pads stay in place with heavy-duty adhesive that's sure to hold for the life of your tubes. Plus, they're installed to recesses in the board or tube, meaning the strength of your step isn't compromised with a cutout.
A reference guide to nerf bar shapes and styles
Virtually any kind of nerf bar you can imagine is available for most trucks or SUVs. Under the broad category of side steps are 2 basic styles with numerous individual varieties of each: nerf bars and running boards. Let's take a quick look at each type:
Nerf bars: an identification guide
Nerf bars feature an awesome industrial look in several shapes and lengths, including:
Cab-length nerf bars
The most commonly seen nerf bar style, cab-length bars provide 2 treaded step pads on each tube. Cab-length bars span both of your vehicle's seating rows.
Wheel-to-wheel nerf bars
Ideal for trucks, these nerf bars run from your front seating row to your rear wheel well. Wheel-to-wheel nerf bars feature the added benefit of a third step at the rear wheel for convenient truck bed access. This third step is also perfect for loading roof or utility racks.
Oval nerf bars
With their unique design shape, oval nerf bars offer you and your passengers a wider place to step than standard round bar models can. The extra step width equals more sure footing, plus a degree of comfort for people with bigger feet.
For decoration only. Sport tubes employ a smaller tubing diameter that supports very little weight, thus they are not meant to be used as steps.
Running boards: an identification guide
With a vastly different design than nerf bars, running boards offer a more conventional step size. They're wider and can typically hold more weight than nerf bars. Running boards offer plenty of design options, including:
Standard running boards
This running board design features a black or dark grey finish color that runs the length of your front two seating rows.
Lighted running boards
These clever running boards offer the added bonus of lights at one or both ends for brightening your stepping space. They're dark when the doors are closed, then light-up when doors open.
Custom-molded running boards
Improving on the look and shape of standard running boards, custom-molded running boards showcase a specialized shape that blends seamlessly with the curves and lines of your vehicle. Plus, they offer the added benefit of optional color matching to your vehicle's paint.
Other nerf bar styles
Individual nerf bars
This nerf bar design foregoes the board or bar design that runs the length of your cab, opting instead for a separated step design. A set of these requires four individual steps, typically with longer steps for the front row and shorter ones for the second row.
Retractable nerf bars
Straight out of a sci-fi flick (or a modern RV), retractable nerf bars pop-out when your door opens, offering a personal step-up into your cab. Close the door, and retractable nerf bars tuck away in a hidden spot beneath the door well.
The basics of nerf bar materials
Nerf bars typically use thick-wall steel tubing to get their strength and durability. Either cold-rolled carbon steel or stainless steel are the metals of choice, with the carbon steel only used on powder coat models.
Running boards feature molded polymer top surfaces. It's a high-strength plastic, supported underneath by an integrated aluminum frame for added rigidity. That's how the wider, thinner running board can support more weight than standard tubes.
A guide to the smooth finish style of nerf bars
Nerf bars and running boards aren't just about function. They also add smooth, sleek style to the side of your ride with a number of finishes.
Nerf bars typically come in two finish options: highly-polished steel or smooth black powder coating. Polished models boast stainless steel construction, meaning the reflective finish won't soon fade, tarnish, corrode or otherwise diminish. Powder coated models feature a flawless black surface that resists chips and scratches.
Running boards most often come in a matte black or dark grey finish. Most models in this color accept automotive-grade paint for customization. Aluminum running boards boast a bright finish that accents your other vehicle trim.
A word on mounting your nerf bars
The vast majority of running boards, nerf bars and other nerf bars offered by AutoAnything boast the added benefit of no-hassle, bolt-on mounting that generally takes less than an hour. The most you'll need for mounting your steps is a good ratchet set, a couple screwdrivers, and maybe an Allan wrench.
Beyond ease of installation, this mounting design provides the sturdiest possible attachment for your side steps by using pre-existing holes. Automakers put these mounting holes in most vehicles to accommodate their own brand of side steps.
More intricate step models, including retractable side steps, may require minor drilling for installing the full mechanism.
Some quick advice on selecting the right running boards for your vehicle
When picking the right pair of nerf bars or running boards for your truck or SUV, think of the following side step features. It's best to consider:
- Which nerf bars will look best on your vehicle
- The length of nerf bar you need
- The finish that best matches your vehicle and other accessories
- The weight capacity that best suits your uses
Which nerf bars will look best on my vehicle?
Some running boards styles look best on a particular vehicle type, though selecting a set of steps is also largely based on personal preference.
- If you drive a full-size SUV, cab-length running boards will most likely look best on your ride. A number of big-name brands, such as Nasta, Stull, Lund, Dee Zee, Westin, ATS and BAK, craft top-notch running boards.
- For mid and full-size trucks, nerf bars look best. For a stable set of nerf bars, look to OR-FAB, Go Rhino, Go Industries, ATS, Putco, Westin, Dee Zee, WAAG, T&H and Nasta to set you straight.
- On full-size pickups and workhorse rigs, wheel-to-wheel nerf bars are ideal. Their extra length gives you fast access to your truck’s bed. Take a look at WAAG, Dee Zee, Westin, Nasta, Go Industries, Putco and Go Rhino for these elongated bars.
- If you prefer color-matched style, select custom running boards, which are specially made by ATS.
- When the added feature of lighted ends will add something to your vehicle's appearance, get lighted running boards. Check out Westin, BAK and ATS for these brilliant running boards.
- For straight-up style without step pads or thick-diameter bars, get a subtle sport tube, which is made by Westin.
What length of nerf bar do I need?
Both nerf bars and running boards come in different lengths to suit your needs. Extra step length can come in handy on any number of occasions.
- If you want the standard size side step, select a cab-length nerf bar or running board.
- For those who need frequent truck bed access or often climb into the bed, grab a set of wheel-to-wheel nerf bars.
Roof rack users will enjoy the extra step provided by a set of wheel-to-wheel nerf bars.
- If you don't want steps running any length of your vehicle, or want to decide where to mount your steps and how many to add, grab a set of individual side steps.
What nerf bar finish best matches my vehicle's looks and other accessories?
Black, polished or custom-painted step models are available. Pick the finish that best fits the rest of your vehicle's looks.
- If you have a grille guard, tail light guard or roof rack, select nerf bars that match the same finish color.
- When subdued looks are your vehicle's style, select a set of black nerf bars. You'll find these powerful black bars by peruse these companies: T&H, Aries, WAAG, Dee Zee, Go Industries, Westin, OR-FAB, Manik and Go Rhino.
- Polished stainless steel nerf bars offer the flashiest side step looks. Get this gleam from Nasta, T&H, Dee Zee, Putco, Westin, Manik, Go Rhino and Go Industries.
- For seamless color-matched style, grab a pair of paint-matched running boards by ATS.
How much weight capacity do I need?
Most any running board will provide the weight capacity you need for regular use. Keep in mind who you frequently bring along in your truck or SUV, and the weight rating of step that will meet those needs.
- If 300 lbs capacity per tube is enough strength, select any set of nerf bars.
- For extra strength and capacity, grab a set of reinforced running boards capable of holding 500 lbs of weight, like the BAK running boards.