Three best running boards

Kyle Schurman

Although most running boards have a weight limit of a few hundred pounds, some reinforced models can support 500 pounds or more.

Running boards are handy pieces of equipment to have on a tall vehicle like a pickup truck. Rather than having to take one large step up, you can cut the distance in half with a running board. Although some tall vehicles have factory-installed running boards, many don't. With nearly all models of pickup trucks, you can add running boards later. And you often can do the work yourself to save a bit of money.

If you're considering adding running boards to your vehicle, we've put together the key items you should understand before making this purchase.

Considerations when choosing running boards

Match running board to vehicle

Running boards are made to mount on certain makes and model years of vehicles. If a running board is considered "universal," it will likely use a mounting kit that matches a truck's make and model.

If you try to install a running board on a vehicle other than the ones recommended by the manufacturer, it probably won't fit correctly, and it could give way under pressure. Before you pick your favorite set of running boards, figure out which ones will fit your vehicle. This will narrow your search and save you time and hassle.

Running board features

Traditional: The traditional running board design is the most common on the market. It is a flat step that's usually three to six inches wide and the length of the door(s).

Other types: If your vehicle is a common make and model, you'll probably also find nontraditional running boards that fit. Some stylish boards called rocker bars resemble rounded tubes. Or you might prefer a small step, called a hoop step. A nerf bar, or side step, is a rounded rather than flat running board.

Running board prices: Running boards can be expensive accessories, but at least you get two for the price. The least expensive basic running boards run from $100 to $300. Those that support heavier weight or have added traction can cost up to $500. If you pay someone to install them for you, that will add another $50 to $150.

The highest-priced running boards might need to connect to the vehicle's electrical system. Some of these boards have lights, so you can see the step at night, or retract under the vehicle until you open the door. These running boards might cost as much as $750 to $1,500, and you'll likely need professional installation, which could run a few hundred dollars.


Q. How difficult is it to install basic running boards?

A. Most manufacturers expect vehicle owners to install their own boards, so they try to simplify the process. You can usually install running boards with simple household tools. However, if you aren't comfortable working with socket wrenches and pliers, you might want to hire someone to do the work.

Q. What are the benefits of running boards?

A. Running boards can protect the paint on your vehicle because they block pebbles from bouncing up from the road and striking the car. If you have a tall vehicle, a running board makes it easier to step up and into the car. If the running board has a rough surface, you can clean muddy shoes on the board before tracking dirt into your vehicle.

Q. How will I know if I like the look of running boards?

A. Determining whether you like the style of a running board depends a lot on your personal taste. Before purchasing and installing running boards, search online for photos of your make and model of vehicle. You can then compare the photos of vehicles with running boards to those without.

Running boards we recommend

Best of the best: Tyger Auto Running Boards

Our take: You'll love the sleek style of these running boards on many Jeep Wrangler models.

What we like: The fit is so good that you'll think they came from the manufacturer. Offered at a reasonable price point.

What we dislike: Installing these boards can be tricky.

Best bang for your buck: APS iBoard Running Boards 

Our take: Excellent price for a board with a wide step, making it easier to climb into GMC or Chevrolet vehicles.

What we like: Tough design consisting of aluminum with rust-proof coating. The modern style of the boards is appealing.

What we dislike: Installation can be difficult to do yourself.

Choice 3: Westin Brite Aluminum Step Boards 

Our take: Easy installation, but you do have to purchase a custom mounting kit separately that matches your vehicle make and model.

What we like: Gives you a sturdy aluminum frame with black accents for a stylish design that fits in with a multitude of trucks.

What we dislike: The custom mounting kit is an added expense.

Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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