Running boards provide truck drivers with an extra stepping surface to make climbing on or off the vehicle an easier task. However, because of many running boards' width and proximity to the vehicle's body, some people may think twice about stepping on them. We've done the research to help you or your loved ones use your truck's running boards properly.
Whether you're climbing on or getting off your truck, you may find it easier to step on the running board using only your outside foot. Depending on your height or size relative to the truck, you may also want to support yourself partially by grabbing on to the steering wheel, seat, or an interior handle.
Would you like to know more about the recommended usage of running boards? Do read on, because we will also discuss the pros and cons of running boards and other types of truck side steps.
How To Use Running Boards
Vehicle running boards belong to the general category of "side steps", and their main function is to help passengers enter and exit vehicles - particularly tall ones like trucks - more easily.
However, using running boards may be as straightforward as many would think, at least for some people. First, some running boards may be so close to vehicle's floor level that they do not make much of a difference when climbing on or off the vehicle.
Second, the amount of passenger convenience that running boards provide depends highly on the person's height relative to the vehicle's ground clearance. Kids and smaller passengers may find some running boards helpful, but some tall passengers may not need the boards at all.
Nevertheless, trucks generally sit higher off the ground than sedans and small crossovers. So, whether the running board is just an inch or several inches lower than the vehicle floor, every little help can count for vertically-challenged commuters.
If you're entering from the left side (driver's side in the U.S.), then you should step on the running board with your left foot and let your right foot enter the vehicle directly. Drivers may hold on lightly to the steering wheel for some support, while rear passengers may grab on to a seat or an interior handle.
Inversely, if you're entering from the right side, then you should step on the running board with your right foot and let your left foot enter the vehicle directly.
Kids and small adults, however, may not have enough stride length to use the running board this way. Some children may need to climb on the running board with both feet before they can enter the vehicle. Of course, parents or guardians should always support them for safety.
What Is A Running Board On A Car?
Running boards are narrow footboards that run almost the entire length of the vehicle's rocker panel. These boards may be corrugated, perforated, or dimpled metal planks that provide that extra stepping surface that some people need to enter and exit tall vehicles like pickup trucks and large SUVs.
Compared to other types of side steps, running boards provide a larger stepping surface. This makes running boards these boards easier to step on. Furthermore, due to the larger surface, running boards also act as shields for your vehicle against pebbles and small debris, especially on unpaved roads.
How Much Weight Can A Running Board Hold?
Running boards may vary in design and construction, and thus their weight capacities also differ. However, at a minimum, running boards should be able to support the weight of at least one adult at a time.
Typical running board capacity ranges between 300 and 500 pounds. Always check your running board's manufacturer specifications so you can be sure about how much weight you can subject your boards to.
Should I Put Running Boards on My Truck?
Installing running boards has been a debatable topic for many truck owners for a long time. The debate may continue well into the far future because truck owners weigh the pros and cons based on two categories: form and function.
With regard to form, some truck owners like the "lowered", more streamlined look that running boards give. On the other hand, other truck owners shy away from these boards to maintain a taller-looking and more rugged stance for their vehicles.
In terms of function, some people use their trucks as family cars. To make vehicle access easier for kids and smaller family members, these truck owners prefer to install running boards.
Alternatively, some people buy trucks for more adventurous purposes like overlanding or off-roading. When tackling extremely challenging terrain, these truck owners need all the ground clearance they can get. Running boards, which sit lower than the vehicle floor, will be a liability in these cases.
As some sort of door mat, running boards can help you keep your truck's interior clean because you can use the boards to scrape off dirt from your shoes before stepping in the vehicle. However, they can also get your pants or clothes dirty if they scrape the running boards when you step out of the vehicle.
Finally, some people claim that running boards help you preserve your truck's seats longer. With running boards, you put less stress on your seat as you don't rub or slide that much against the seat upholstery during your entry or exit.
So, should you get a running board or not for your truck? Only you can answer this question based on your practical and aesthetic purposes.
What Is The Difference Between Side Steps And Running Boards?
As we have discussed previously, running boards have the main purpose of providing additional stepping point vehicles with high ground clearance. However, running boards do not have a monopoly on this function.
Other types of side steps like hoop steps, drop steps, nerf bars and nerf boards also provide the same benefit, although they have different designs for varying practical or aesthetic purposes. Moreover, some off-road enthusiasts may also use rock sliders as not-so-convenient side steps for their trucks or SUVs.
Here are the different types of side steps that may fit your requirements.
Hoop steps are small, simple, and very affordable side steps that will give minimalist truck owners the boost they need to get into their vehicles. These hoops attach to the truck's lower body frame and are often just big enough for a shoe or a boot.
Check out this RBP Multi-fit stainless steel hoop step on Amazon.
Drop steps, as the name connotes, provide passengers with a lower stepping point compared to other types of stationary side steps. This lower stepping point is larger than a hoop step but smaller than a running board. Drop step sets usually have a long nerf bar where the steps "drop" down from.
In general, drop steps make it easier for kids and smaller passengers to enter and exit pick-up trucks. However, they will decrease your truck's ground clearance and breakover angle significantly.
Check out this popular n-FAB cab lengt truck drop step on Amazon.
Nerf Bars / Nerf Steps
Nerf bars originally came from the racing world, and they were meant to minimize or "nerf" car damage when they bump against each other on the tracks. Modern nerf bars still give vehicles some protection from small impacts, but they also serve as a form of side steps.
Originally using cylindrical metal tube construction, some modern nerf bars gravitated towards flatter, oval types called nerf steps. New nerf steps still provide some impact protection, but they are broader and more comfortable to step on compared to cylindrical tubes.
Check out this popular TAC truck nerf step on Amazon.
Automatic Running Boards
If you want the wideness of running boards as well as the lower stepping point of drop steps, then you may want to invest in automatic running boards.
When not in use, automatic running boards remain elevated and retracted beneath the truck's rocker panels. This gives you almost the same ground clearance that your truck had originally. When you open the door, the boards drop down and extend out automatically for you to step on.
Check out this popular AMP Research PowerStep Electric running board on Amazon.
Finally, rock sliders primarily act as heavy-duty protection for off-roading trucks and SUVs. Although these accessories do not belong to the "side steps" category, some off-roaders still use them as stepping points to access the truck's bed and roof.
Most adult-sized passengers may find it easy to step on the running board only with their outside foot before entering a truck. However, small children may need both feet on the running board before they can step inside the vehicle.
Thank you very much for reading. We hope we were able to help you use your truck's running boards to get onto your truck in a much easier way.
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