Side Steps vs. Running Boards – What are The Differences?

Whenever it comes to getting out of a vehicle, we always need something where we can place our feet. Have you ever seen horse-drawn carriages? Yes, that’s what we are talking about! You cannot just step out of the vehicle right from inside!

This is when the side steps or running boards come in! Stepping bars are necessary, but which one to get? We will bring the steps vs. running boards competition to an end let’s learn the differences!

Side Steps Vs Running Boards

Differences Between Running Boards and Side steps

Have you seen the stepping rain or stepping bar of your car or truck? Have you ever compared them to the other vehicles on the road? If you do, you will see some differences! Today, we will discuss the dissimilarities between running boards and side step bars!

Side Steps

Side steps are often known as sidebars or Nerf bars, but if you talk about its job, it’s the same. Well, the running boards do that same job too. But there are differences. Let’s learn about side steps at first.

oEdRo 6_ Side Steps Compatible with 2019-2021 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab

Large Sized Vehicles

The primary job of a side step is to afford the stepping surface for your vehicle or into the truck or car. And this is why you see larger vehicles carrying side steps. Think about the pickup trucks and the SUVs, the stepping surface of these vehicles is called side steps.

But at times, you will also see side steps in the smaller vehicles. In this case, the reason behind this is completely aesthetic. Imagine the crossovers or the compact SUVs. The manufacturers have added side steps there even though they are small vehicles.

The purpose is simple- to some users, it looks better. But when you deal with easy access to the vehicle along with the protection of the side panels of your vehicle, we believe rock sliders are the best option. Get your eyes on Tacoma rock sliders with steps if you want the best treaty!

Narrow Design

If you compare the side steps with the running boards, you will see that the side steps are a bit on the narrower sides. These are narrow and will only provide you the room for keeping one step on it so that you can easily get down. You might get into a dilemma when you pick the size of the step bar! Check out what size Nerf bars should I get to find the right deal!

Additional Space

Whenever it comes to the basic design of the side steps, the design allows you to mount with a specific amount of space that sits between the body of your truck and the step. However, the space is not the same for all the vehicles.

In most cases, this completely depends on the model of your vehicle. Different vehicle models will carry a different amount of space between the step and the body of the vehicle.

But in all cases, the distance is only a few inches. In easier terms, side steps or sidebars are designed for leaving additional space between the vehicle and the step!

Less Ground Clearance

On the other hand, some sidebars come with the ability to mount low on the truck or the vehicle. In this case, the intention is to provide less ground clearance.

Besides, this design also helps in affording a lot more functional steps when it comes to dealing with lifted vehicles. This makes it easy for the driver or the passenger to get out of the vehicle if they are higher from the ground

Number of Side Steps

With the side steps, you will see individual step pads. For almost all the designs, each step pad is related to each door of your truck or vehicle. So, you get more than one side step for getting out of the vehicle.

For every door, there will be a side step added to the truck. In short, you will see individual and custom positioned side steps added to the vehicles

Running Boards

As we have already mentioned, running boards and side steps are almost the same, but here, we will discuss running boards in detail. Let’s check it out!

best electric running boards Reviews

All Sized Vehicles

The side steps are designed for larger vehicles. Though they are used for smaller vehicles too, they are specifically made for larger ones. But the case is different for the running boards.

In this case, you will see both larger vehicles and smaller vehicles having running boards added to them. You will see the SUVs using the running boards.

On the contrary, the smaller crossovers might also carry running boards! In short, the job of the running boards is to afford you a convenient step! It gets another plus point for the aesthetic value it affords, no doubt.

Wide Design

Running boards have a wide design. The side steps are narrow but the running boards are on the wider side. If you want something wide to keep your feet on when you get out of your vehicle, the best part is the running boards.

The whole design is done in a way that will provide you with a completely flat profile. If you own a Ram 1500 and you are still confused about which one to pick up between Ram 1500 side steps or running boards, you have to research a bit more! Why wouldn’t you want the best for your truck?  

Closer Mount

First of all, you get the necessary stepping surface into the vehicle with the running boards. This is just the same as the side steps. But the mounting design is different here. The running boards are designed for mounting flush against your car or vehicle’s rocker panel.

It stays closer to it! So, you can easily understand that there is no gap between the running board and the body of the vehicle. The additional space you get in the side steps is not something that you will get with the running boards.

More Ground Clearance

As we have seen that the side steps are usually mounted down and will mount away from the truck. But the situation is different for running boards. These will provide you with more ground clearance.

So, with the running boards, you can easily settle for more ground clearance for some specific vehicles. People that own lower vehicles will find it tough to go for the side steps.

And so, running boards are great for the lower vehicles. To afford you more clearance, check out the electric running boards for trucks! They will only appear when you need them! 

Number of Running Boards

Well, we have already seen that there are individual side steps added to the vehicle. But if you deal with the running board, you won’t see such things here. There are no individual steps added here for each door.

In the case of the running board, there will be a slat stepping surface only. And you will see a tread that will span the total length of your running board. In easier words, these will give you single and full-length treads for your foot! So, no single steps here, right?

Also Read: Best Boat Trailer Steps – Reviews & Guide

Wrap Up

Now you know the basic differences between the two popular bars, running bars, and sidebars. With these differences, it will be easy for you to pick up what goes for your vehicle! Both of them work amazing for most of the vehicles, but we recommend you to opt for the comfort and additional facility each of them provides.

About Jeremy

Hello! My name is Jeremy Bloomberg. I have been passionate about carpentry and DIY. Over the years, my passion slowly turned into expertise and wider knowledge about electronics. I’ve been involved in numerous projects, both professional and personal. I want to share all I have learned with you. Welcome!

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