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Running Boards vs. Nerf Bars: Which Is Better for Trucks?

Running Boards vs. Nerf Bars: Which Is Better for Trucks?

Side steps are a common addition to any vehicle providing functionality and style. They are mounted on the sides of a truck and offer a convenient way for passengers to step on when entering or exiting the vehicle. They can be made from different materials, such as aluminum, steel, and plastic, and they come in various shapes, lengths, and designs.

Trucks, particularly those with a high ground clearance, can benefit from side steps. Side steps make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the cabin, especially for kids, the elderly, or people with disabilities. Side steps for trucks also protect the vehicle's body against debris, rocks, and other road hazards. Two of the most popular options are running boards and nerf bars, which differ in design and functionality. This is also where most people find it tricky because they have difficulty choosing between the two. For this reason, we will discuss the details in this article.

What Are Running Boards?

Running boards are a type of side step that runs the length of the truck’s cabin. They provide a wide-platform-like step for secure footing and a stylish look to the truck. Running boards come in different finishes like chrome, black powder-coated, or stainless steel. Some running boards have a non-slip surface to improve traction and prevent slipping.

Running boards provide a wide platform for secure footing, making it easier and safer for passengers to get in and out of the truck. They also add style to a truck, especially if the running board's design matches its color and style. However, they are not without faults because running boards do not reduce stepping distance, making it more challenging for shorter passengers to climb into the vehicle. Additionally, running boards may look dull when installed on the wrong truck, such as a lifted truck with oversized tires.

Nerf Bars

Nerf bars, also called step bars, are similar to running boards but are designed to be mounted lower on the truck’s body. Nerf bars provide plenty of space for stepping and can be mounted low to reduce stepping distance. They come in different shapes and finishes, such as round, oval, or square, and are made from aluminum or steel.

Nerf bars provide plenty of space for stepping, making it easier for passengers, especially shorter ones, to get in and out of the truck. They can also be mounted low on the truck's body to reduce stepping distance. However, they are less secure for footing than running boards because they are narrower. For this reason, they may not be ideal for off-road trucks because they can get damaged by rocks and other debris.

How Much Do Side Steps Cost?

The cost of side steps can vary depending on the material, size, and brand. On average, side steps can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 per pair. Aluminum side steps are less expensive, ranging from $100 to $300. Steel side steps, on the other hand, can cost between $200 to $600. The added cost is because steel is heavier and more durable than aluminum.

Size is also a cost factor. Longer side steps that cover the entire length of the cab can cost more than shorter ones that only cover the front or back doors. Additionally, wider side steps with a larger stepping area may be more expensive.

Installation costs should also be taken into consideration. It is possible to install side steps yourself, but it can be time-consuming and require special tools. Professional installation can cost anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the complexity of the installation and the location.

What Should You Choose?

Choosing between running boards and nerf bars are often tricky because of their unique features. However, it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you prioritize practicality and functionality, nerf bars may be a better option as they offer more protection and durability. On the other hand, running boards may be the way to go if you want a more stylish and sleek look. Whatever you choose, consider the cost factors, installation options, and your vehicle's specific needs.


Running boards and nerf bars are among the best choices for side steps if you want them on your truck. For this reason, you must choose carefully, especially since they will be used regularly. This way, your truck will look great while being functional and practical.

If you are looking for truck side steps and running boards, Car Cosmo has what you need! We offer various selections of side steps and running boards suitable for most trucks at affordable prices. Place your order today!