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> Frame Versus Rocker Panel Mounted Steps

Frame Versus Rocker Panel Mounted Steps

This is an image of Dee Zee 4" oval nerf bars.
Dee Zee 4" Oval Nerf Bars
Nerf bars and running boards are basically a narrow platform spanning from the front to the back wheel wells just below the doors on the sides of the vehicle. Alright, I think we can all understand that! However, when those nerf bars or running boards were installed, it had to be secured to the vehicle. In order to do this, the tubular boards were specifically designed to be a frame-mount or a rocker panel-mount.

Frame Mounted
The frame of any vehicle is the basic metal structure that supports all vehicle parts. Every compartment is to it from the engine to the wheels and body. Think of it like a skeleton that holds everything up as it should be. In the image to the right, you’ll see one side of a frame as a nerf bar is about to be installed.

So, a “frame mounted nerf bar” or “frame mounted running board” simply means when the bar is installed it is supported by and attached to the frame. Note: A frame mount is also known as a “body mount” since the body also mounts to the frame at the same point.  

Rocker Panel Mounted
A rocker panel is a pronounced section of your vehicle’s body that lies from wheel well to wheel well just below the passenger doors. The purpose of a rocker panel is to deflect rocks and other debris that might fly up while driving. Some people like to customize them with rocker panel covers, which often also cover the bottom areas of the doors as well.

When a nerf bar or running board is rocker panel mounted, it’s not bolted directly onto the rocker panel. Instead, it connects to a steel plate underneath passenger doors. In short, it mounts to the inside of a vehicle’s body. This is the most common mount type of factory installed nerf bars and running boards. Some doubt the integrity of mounting to a rocker panel. But, as long as the mounting brackets are well-engineered, rocker panels are surprisingly strong mounting points.

Which One Is Better?
Many feel a frame mount is a better option because the frame is the strongest part of a vehicle. However, because it’s mounted to the frame, longer mounting brackets are needed. And, this can cause some stress on the frame. Still, these are a fine option to try. However, rocker panel mounted bars are a legitimate option as well as long as they are well made. 

Where does that leave you? As far as we’re concerned, the better option is whatever fits your vehicle and budget.