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Running Board And Side Step Glossary

Shopping for running boards or side steps? You may see a lot of unfamiliar terminology. The phrases and terms listed here will help you make an easier and more informed purchase.
 Running Board And Side Step Glossary

Running boards versus side steps: what's the difference? That may be obvious to some, but what distinguishes a round side bar from an oval one? How would you know if you prefer a "cab-length" or "wheel-to-wheel" length tube step? If you're shopping for running boards or side steps for your truck, you may be unfamiliar with the terminology. Browse through our helpful glossary, so that you can make a more informed purchase decision when visiting our Running Boards & Step Bars store.

Cab-Length Boards / Steps

"Cab length running boards" or side steps extend under the door or doors of the cab (passenger compartment) on each side. While they may not completely cover the entire length of every door, they are long enough to provide a step under each door for entry and exit. See also "wheel-to-wheel boards/steps".

Cab Length Black Powdercoat Round Bent Tube Step Bars
Cab Length Black Powdercoat Tube Step Bars

Drop Step Bars

"Drop step bars" are a variation of side bars or side steps. They encompass a "second level" of bars or steps. In practicality, they allow the main side bar to be mounted close to the body for style, and the "drop step" extends out from there to serve as a functional foot step.

Drop Step Bars

Individual Side Steps / Hoop Steps

"Individual side steps", also known as "hoop steps", are small side steps designed to allow room for only one foot at a time. They are mounted directly under a door opening to assist with entry and exit of the vehicle.

Individual Polished Side Steps
Individual Side Step Bottom View

Integrated Running Boards

"Integrated running boards" function as any other running board, but include end pieces which will integrate the board with the vehicle's wheel openings.

Integrated Running Board

Lighted Running Boards

"Lighted running boards" offer built-in lighting, either as individual lights or arrayed in a row. The lights serve both as a visual effect and as an assist when entering or exiting the vehicle in the dark. Installation requires electrical work.

Lighted Running Board
Lighted Running Board Installed

Nerf Bars

"Nerf bars" describe any tubular shaped devices fitted to cars and trucks. While "nerf bars" can refer to bumpers, the term is also used interchangeably with round or oval side steps or step bars.

Powdercoat Oval Bent Nerf Bars
Powdercoat Oval Nerf Bars

Oval Tube Side Steps

"Oval tube side steps", when viewed from the side, are formed from an oval tube. They are a nice compromise between a flat running board and a round tube side step. They provide stylish looks while offering a slightly wider and more stable foot step area. See also "round tube side steps".

Oval Tube Side Steps

Retractable Side Steps

"Retractable side steps" are electrically-powered side steps. During driving, they retract out of sight, under the vehicle's rocker panels. When needed, they electrically extend outward to serve as foot steps.

Retractable Side Step
Deployed Retractable Powerstep Side Step

Rocker Bars

"Rocker bars" are tubular side bars specifically designed to function both as side steps and as vehicle body protection for off-road vehicles.

Side Armor Rocker Bars
Rocker Panel Guard Bar

Round Tube Side Steps

"Round tube side steps", when viewed from the side, are formed from a circular tube. While compact and stylish, this design also allows for a slightly smaller foot step area.

Round Polished Tube Side Steps
Round Powdercoat Tube Side Steps

Running Boards

"Running boards" are wide, flat boards mounted under the vehicle's doors. They mount close enough to the rocker panels that there is little or no gap between the vehicle and the board. They typically provide the widest foot step area.

Running Boards

Side Bars / Side Steps / Step Bars

"Side bars" also known as "side steps" or "step bars" are the generic names used when describing any tubes, bars, or rails mounted as foot steps along the side of a vehicle.

Bedstep2 Side Step
Truck Bed Side Step

Sport Tubes

"Sport tubes" appear to be the same as round or oval tube side steps. However, they sit closer to the vehicle's body, and are for style only. They do not provide a foot step area.

Round Sport Tube Side Step

Trapezoid Step Bars

Trapezoid step bars” feature squared-off, chiseled edges instead of round curving ones. As such, they can encompass a number of lengths and general styles.

Trapezoid Step Bars

Triangular Step Bars

Triangular step bars” feature horizontal surfaces that are not round, oval, or rectangular. Instead, they are wedge-shaped with 3 sides similar to a triangle. Depending on specific design, top surfaces may or may not be angled.

Triangular Step Bars

Wheel-to-Wheel Boards / Steps

"Wheel-to-wheel running boards" or wheel-to-wheel side steps extend from the front wheel opening to the rear wheel opening. On pickup trucks, they serve the additional function of providing a step in order to access the pickup truck bed. See also "cab-length boards/steps".

Wheel-to-Wheel Boards
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