Running Boards Won’t Go Up – Why And What To Do?

Malfunctioning running boards can become causes of concern. But why are your vehicle’s running boards faulty, and what can you do to fix them? You’re now at the right place since we researched this question for your convenience, and here’s the answer we found.

The possible causes that may hinder running boards from retracting or going up range from a lack of lubricant to a blockage in their mechanisms. Make sure to troubleshoot the running boards before attempting any repair method on them. Then, use the appropriate solution based on your findings.

You should continue reading as we talk about these possible suspects of malfunctioning running boards in greater detail. We'll also tackle some potential solutions that may help you restore your vehicle's running boards' normal functions.

Close up of running boards on a truck. - Running Boards Won't Go Up - Why And What To Do?

Why Won’t My Running Boards Go Up?

Before troubleshooting your running boards, it’s important to know why these components aren’t working as expected. In this section, you’ll learn some of the possible reasons for this problem:

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Low Or Absence Of Lubricant

The moving parts in running board assemblies need sufficient lubricant to function properly. However, this solution wears out over time, leading to issues like grinding or stopping mid-travel. If left unchecked, the running boards may fail to return to their original positions when you don’t need them.

Faulty Running Board Motor

Power running boards generally have reasonably small motors powering their movements. These motors may encounter malfunctions because of software or hardware issues. A bad running board motor might result in the assemblies refusing to move.

Bad Wiring

If no apparent harm fell upon the running board, another possible candidate for failure is the wiring. Perhaps some of the connections are loose, which might come from vigorous vibrations from your vehicle. Otherwise, the wires might have visible signs of damage, such as cuts or frays.

Dirty Or Clogged Mechanism

Dirt and debris can become lodged into the running boards’ moving components. The blockage can prevent the running boards from moving. Attempting to make the running boards move while they have a clog may result in irreparable harm.

Low Or Discharged Battery

close-up on new small eco car battery installed in the compartment showing good arrangement and safety, clear communicated design of electrical connector and warning pictogram signs on the top cover

One of the primary functions of an automotive battery is to power the vehicle’s electronics. It works with the alternator to supply sufficient electricity to connected devices, including the running boards. A low or discharged battery may fail to provide power to the running boards, hindering them from going up.

How To Fix Running Boards That Won’t Go Up?

Different possible solutions are available for your running boards that refuse to go up. Keep reading this section as we discuss some methods you can try to solve this issue.

It’s also important to note that you should only use the appropriate method based on the results of your troubleshooting. Tampering with your vehicle’s running boards more than necessary might lead to additional repair costs.

Method #1: Clean The Running Boards

Cleaning with high pressure

Regular running board cleaning and maintenance may help remove dirt and debris from its parts. With this, it might be possible to dislodge stuck objects, which can prevent the board from moving as expected.

While this process may not require professional help, still take care in handling the running board assembly to prevent causing additional harm to it.

So here are the general steps to help clean your running boards:

What You’ll Need

  • Pressure washer
  • Towel
  • Soft-bristled brush

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Spray water on the power running boards with the pressure washer.
  2. Scrub leftover dirt and debris with the towel and soft-bristled brush.
  3. Operate the running boards to check if cleaning them restored their normal functions.

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Warning: Be careful when using the pressure washer on the vehicle. Significant water pressure may harm some of the vehicle's materials, particularly the bodyshell.

Method #2: Lubricate The Running Boards

Take note that spraying lubricant on your running boards at least once every few months can help prevent them from moving incorrectly. Highlighted below are the steps to help lubricate your running boards for your convenience:

What You’ll Need

  • White lithium grease

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Shake the white lithium grease liberally.
  2. Spray the lubricant onto the running board’s moving parts generously.
  3. Test the running board’s mechanism to ensure it now works as intended.

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Warning: Avoid using the standard WD-40 solution. It’s a water-displacing solution with lubricating properties. However, it can gather dirt and debris, which can lead to a buildup over time. If so, the problem with the running boards not moving properly may return sooner than later.

You can also watch the short clip below if you need a visual representation of this procedure:

Method #3: Replace The Running Board Motor

If cleaning or lubricating the running boards didn’t make them go up, perhaps the motor attached to these assemblies is at fault.

First, ensure that the replacement motor is compatible with your specific running board model. The module should also fit your vehicle.

After purchasing the correct running board motor, continue reading to gain insight on how to complete this task:

What You’ll Need

  • Replacement running board motor
  • Socket wrench
  • Allen key

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Turn off the vehicle’s engine and engage its hand or parking brake.
  2. Chock the wheels to prevent your car from moving or rolling out of place.
  3. Go underneath the vehicle and search for the running boards’ connectors. Disconnect the wires afterward.
  4. Connect the new motor to the running boards’ wires. Then, test the running boards if they work properly.
  5. Place the running boards in the open position before disconnecting the new motor.
  6. Locate and unplug the running board control module.
  7. Remove all the bolts securing the running boards to the vehicle. Next, pull out the running boards and set them aside temporarily.
  8. Remove the nuts that secure the running boards’ hinges to their brackets. You may also need the Allen key for this step.
  9. Take out the old motor from the running board assembly and install the new model.
  10. Reinstall the running board assembly to the vehicle and secure it.
  11. Test the new motor again to check if the running boards move up and down as intended.

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Watch this video if you need a visual guide for the steps mentioned above:

How Do I Reset My Auto Running Board?

The specific steps to reset running boards may differ for each vehicle model. For example, resetting Ford running boards only requires you to open and close the sliding door. On the other hand, you might be able to reset the running boards on a GM vehicle by following these steps:

Close up of running boards on a truck

  1. Locate the running board disable switch on the vehicle’s center console.
  2. Close all the doors and turn on the ignition to the “Run” position.
  3. Toggle the running board disable switch thrice within a 20-second timeframe.

Doing so may allow these assemblies to function normally again. If not, continue with the troubleshooting and use one of the possible solutions mentioned in this post.

Final Thoughts

Remember, running boards may fail to move up and/or down because they encountered a problem. Make sure to troubleshoot the cause of this error before attempting to make repairs or replacements. Consult the help of industry professionals if at any time you feel that fixing the running boards is a task you can’t handle.

If you’re looking for answers to other running board-related concerns, check out these other excellent reads:

How To Get In A Truck With Running Boards

How To Install Running Boards On Toyota Tacoma