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.
Be sure though that you get structurally sound nerf bars that can actually provide protection on the trail. Some side steps, such as the ones offered by MOPAR are only cosmetic. Third, women like the steps they provide because it gives them a ladylike way to step into your Jeep. (Ladylike means keeping your knees together.)
For those of you afraid to install bolt-on nerf bars, here are a few secrets. I recently bought the Best 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.
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.
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.
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
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.