How To Install Running Boards on Your Jeep

How To Install Running Boards on your Jeep Gladiator

Why install tunning boards? Well, they do several things for you. First, they protect your doors from parking lot dings. Second, they help protect your body’s sides from dings and scrapes on the trail. Third, they give you places all along the rocker panels to lift your Jeep with your trusty Hi-Lift Jack.

Installing running boards on your Jeep not only enhances its functionality but also adds a touch of personalization. Running boards serve as a convenient step for easier entry and exit from your Jeep, especially for lifted models. Additionally, they provide a layer of protection to your vehicle’s sides from road debris and obstacles. By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to install running boards on your Jeep without any hassle.

  1. Choosing the Right Running Boards

    Before you start the installation process, it’s essential to choose the best running boards for your Jeep . Consider factors such as style, material, durability, and compatibility with your specific Jeep model. There are various types of running boards available, including stainless steel, aluminum, and textured rubber. Choose a style that complements the overall aesthetics of your Jeep and ensures a secure stepping surface.

  2. Tools and Materials Needed

    To install running boards on your Jeep, you will need the following tools and materials:

    1. Running board kit (including brackets and hardware)
    2. Screwdriver or drill
    3. Socket set
    4. Torque wrench
    5. Measuring tape
    6. Marker or pencil
    7. Level
    8. Rust-preventive spray or paint (if required)
  3. Preparing Your Jeep

    Before beginning the installation, prepare your Jeep by cleaning the mounting area thoroughly. Remove any dirt, debris, or rust from the rocker panels, as this will ensure a secure attachment for the running boards. It’s also a good idea to measure and mark the position where the running boards will be mounted, ensuring proper alignment and clearance.

  4. Removing the Existing Step (If Applicable)

    If your Jeep already has a factory-installed step or running boards, you will need to remove them before installing the new running boards. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a Jeep specialist to ensure a safe removal process. Once the existing step is removed, clean the mounting area and proceed to the next step.
    side steps for jeep gladiator

    For those of you afraid to install bolt-on nerf bars, here are a few secrets. I recently bought  running boards for my Jeep Gladiator. These bolt-ons the frame with six self-tapping bolts on each end and center of the bar.

    Here are a few techniques to help make your installation successful.

  5. Mounting the Running Boards

    Place Your Nerf Bars on the Cinderblocks

    The trick in getting the bar installed correctly is to align it exactly where you want it before you start marking holes. This is easy to do by supporting the nerf bar on each end with layers of cinder blocks, bricks, and cardboard. If you don’t have cinderblocks, use books or something else. Use layers of cardboard to move the nerf bar up or down by fractions of an inch until it’s just right.
    nerf bars for jeep gladiator

    When you are satisfied, mark the center of the upper inside two bolt holes with a pencil, double-check, then center punch the holes and put the bar back up and triple check.

  6. Mount the nerf bar back on your supports and start each bolt

    Now mount the nerf bar back on your supports and start each bolt. The self-tappers are tough to go in, so use a torque wrench until tapped, then use your regular socket wrench. Use a piece of your cardboard to protect the finish when you screw these inside bolts in.

    Mount the nerf bar back on your supports and start each bolt

    Now mount the nerf bar back on your supports and start each bolt. The self-tappers are tough to go in, so use a torque wrench until tapped, then use your regular socket wrench. Use a piece of your cardboard to protect the finish when you screw these inside bolts in.

    Once the side steps are installed with two bolts, it is a simple matter of center punching the other two holes exactly in the center and screwing in the bolts.

    That’s it. Now do the other one. Once you get it aligned against the frame, also compare it to the other side. It may look the same on the frame but could look slightly different from the chassis.

    The final product: side steps installed

    Word of warning: Don’t torque these bolts down. Hand tightens with your normal socket wrench. I tried to torque them down and sheared the head off the first bolt at about 60 ft-lbs.

    Not to worry though: if you manage this trick, then remove the nerf bar, drill a hole in the bolt for the largest suitable extractor, extract it and get another bolt. The Smittybilt uses 3/8 inch self-tappers (and I suspect other nerf bar makers have the same bolt suppliers). You can find these possibly at your local 4×4 store, or a hardware store with a well-stocked bolt room.

    Hope this helps. It really isn’t difficult and will save you the $80 or so a 4×4 shop will charge you to do it.

Securing the Running Boards

After mounting the running boards, it’s crucial to ensure they are securely fastened to prevent any movement or instability. Apply pressure on different areas of the running boards to test their stability. If you notice any wobbling or shifting, double-check the attachment points and tighten the bolts or screws as needed. It’s important to achieve a secure and stable installation for optimal functionality and safety.

Testing and Adjustments

Once the running boards are securely attached, take a moment to test them before using your Jeep. Carefully step onto the running boards, applying your weight gradually. Ensure that they can support your weight without flexing or bending excessively. If you notice any issues or instability, inspect the installation and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, test the running boards’ clearance with the ground to ensure they do not interfere with your Jeep’s off-road capabilities.

Maintenance and Care

To ensure the longevity and performance of your running boards, regular maintenance is essential. Clean the running boards regularly with mild soap and water, removing any dirt or debris. Inspect the hardware periodically and tighten if necessary. If your running boards are made of metal, consider applying a rust-preventive spray or paint to protect them from corrosion. Following these simple maintenance steps will help keep your running boards in excellent condition.


Installing running boards on your Jeep is a practical and stylish upgrade that enhances both functionality and appearance. By following the step-by-step installation guide outlined in this article, you can confidently install running boards on your Jeep. Remember to choose the right running boards, prepare your Jeep properly, and ensure a secure and stable attachment. With your new running boards in place, enjoy the convenience and added aesthetic value they bring to your Jeep.


Can I install running boards on any Jeep model?

Most Jeep models are compatible with running board installations. However, it’s crucial to check the compatibility of running boards with your specific Jeep model before purchasing.

Do I need professional help to install running boards?

While the installation process can be done by a DIY enthusiast, it’s recommended to have some basic mechanical knowledge and tools. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, seeking professional assistance is a wise decision.

Can I paint the running boards to match my Jeep’s color?

Yes, if you have painted running boards or want to customize their appearance, you can paint them using automotive-grade paint suitable for the running board material.

Are running boards compatible with lifted Jeeps?

Yes, running boards are particularly useful for lifted Jeeps as they provide a convenient step for easier access.

Are running boards removable?

In most cases, running boards can be easily removed by reversing the installation process. However, consult the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure a safe removal process for your specific running board model.

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