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> How to Install Running Boards

How to Install Running Boards

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Published 10/06/17

If you own a lifted truck, or even a newer stock truck, you’ve probably noticed that along with increased ride height comes some difficulty in entering and exiting the vehicle. This difficulty is easily assuaged with one of the most popular pickup truck accessories: running boards. With a set of running boards installed, stepping up into your truck or SUV will no longer require a 6-foot vertical leap. You might think installing a set of running boards requires years of experience as a mechanic, but that isn’t the case. Read on to find out just how easy it is to install running boards on your vehicle with basic hand tools.

Image of Ionic Factory Style running boards
The wide, flat surface of a running board provides a stable and secure step into your vehicle.

Key Terms

Running Board: A wide, flat board that mounts to a pickup truck or SUV to provide an easy-to-access step into the cab. Distinct from a nerf bar, which is round or oval in shape.
Rocker Panel: The lower part of your truck or SUV’s body. The outward facing portion is referred to as the outer rocker panel, while the portion facing inward towards the frame is called the inner rocker panel. The vast majority of running board brackets mount to holes located in the rocker panel.
Pinch Weld: A weld running along the lower part of a vehicle’s body, which joins the inner and outer rocker panels. Most running board brackets include a portion that attaches to the pinch weld.
Image of Ionic running board brackets
These brackets attach to both your rocker panel and pinch weld.
Bracket: An angled piece of metal designed to attach to a vehicle’s rocker panel or cab mount bolts in order to support a running board.
Cab Mount Bolts: Long bolts which are used to attach the cab of your vehicle to its frame. While not common, there are a few running board designs that use brackets, which mount to these bolts.
Specialized Hardware: Securely installing a running board sometimes requires special hardware such as U-nuts and bolt plates, which create threaded attachment points for brackets to fasten to.

Tools Needed

Image of a bracket installed on a rocker panel
The holes in your rocker panel are used to mount most running board brackets.

Ratchet and Socket Set: Used to tighten most of the bolts included in a running board hardware kit.
Box End Wrenches: Useful for tightening nuts and bolts in areas that are not easily accessed with a ratchet and socket.
Safety Glasses and Gloves: Protects your eyes and hands from hazards that may potentially be encountered during installation.
Creeper: While not strictly necessary, a creeper will make the job go by a little more quickly and comfortably. If you don’t own a creeper, a sturdy rubber mat or even a wide piece of cardboard will suffice.

Installation Process

Image of a rocker panel
Special hardware provides threaded holes for running board bracket bolts.

While the process of installation can vary from brand to brand and vehicle to vehicle, some steps are present in nearly every installation. They are as follows.

1. Check to make sure that the type and amount of hardware you received with your running boards matches what is specified on the included installation sheet.
2. Inspect the mounting area of your vehicle (usually the rocker panel and pinch weld). In order to make things easier on yourself, take this time to remove any plugs or tape that may be covering the holes used during installation.
3. Install any specialized hardware necessary for mounting your running board brackets. Typically this hardware includes u-nuts, bolt plates, and other pieces which are designed to add threaded portions to areas of the pinch weld that are otherwise not threaded.
Image of a u-nut
U-nuts, bolts plates, and other special hardware is an important part of installation.
4. Loosely install your running board brackets. It’s important that you only tighten the hardware securing the brackets in place finger-tight at this point in order to allow for easy adjustment later.
5. With your brackets in place, place your running boards on top of the brackets. Make any necessary adjustments to your bracket positioning at this time. Once you have positioned them to your liking, fasten the boards in place with the included hardware.
6. Finally, fully tighten your bracket hardware to secure the items in place.
7. Periodically inspect and re-tighten your hardware as needed to ensure proper performance.

Image of someone stepping on a running board
Make sure you inspect your boards from time to time for loose hardware.

With a little time and effort, installing a set of running boards on your vehicle is easier than you might think. Find the right running boards for your vehicle here or call our product experts at 877-216-5446 with any questions.