Your selection of the nerf bars style best suited to your particular vehicle is usually influenced by two factors - the look of the side step bars, and what kind of functionality you need. Let's deal with the functionality issue first. We all know that the primary function of a nerf bar is to help us get in and out of our vehicle, but sometimes we need a bit more help. The following nerf bars styles provide additional functionality you may find of value.
Double Bend Nerf Bars may be the answer to your step bar needs if you need a bar that is lower to the ground. These nerf bars not only bend back at both ends towards the vehicle, but they also bend down towards the road along the length that is parallel to the side of the truck. This lowers the stepping area allowing for easier access in and out of your vehicle. The only company that currently makes a nerf bar like this is Grizzly. However, N-fab also makes a nerf bar that has a lower step area welded to the outside edge of their nerf bar, which also provides a lowered step area.
Wheel-to-Wheel Nerf Bars, like their name implies, have a total length that extends from just short of the rear of the front wheel well to the front of the rear wheel well. This provides for a step area helping you to reach items in the front section of your truck bed. If you have a cross-over toolbox in your truck bed, or you find yourself needing to get to the front of your truck bed on a rather frequent basis, then you might want to consider a wheel-to-wheel step bar.
Add-a-Step, manufactured by Grizzly, is also of great use for those of us with limited mobility, or that are having trouble reaching the step of a nerf bar. This aftermarket accessory, constructed from 3” diameter tubing with flanges on the ends, bolts directly to existing nerf bars to provide an additional step that is lower than the nerf bar. Our elderly customers, as well as those with limited vertical movement in their legs have found this to be quite helpful in assisting them into their vehicles.
If your nerf bars need doesn't require the additional functionality noted above, then your selection of step bars available to meet your stylistic requirements will probably fall into the following two categories. Let's examine each one in a bit more detail.
Traditional Nerf Bars incorporate a 90-degree bend at both ends of the step bar. This is typically where the bar attaches to the vehicle frame using a mounting system unique to, and designed for a particular make, model and year vehicle configuration. These bars come in black powder coating, chrome plated, stainless steel and buffed aluminum. The vast majority of these step bars are manufactured using 3" diameter tubing, but you do have an option if you are looking for a bigger diameter step bar, as Putco makes one out of 4" diameter stainless steel.
Oval Tube Steps provide a flatter and wider step area than do their round cousins. Because it is extremely difficult to bend an oval more than 45 degrees, these nerf bars mount with brackets that attach to the main body of the bar, rather than at its ends. The brackets are then fastened to the vehicle’s frame or body mount holes. This is one of the reasons that most oval tube steps will have only limited bends at the ends, and in fact some may not bend at all. Also of importance is the width of the oval surface, with products available in 4" or 5" wide lengths. An oval tube step is a bit like a marriage between the traditional nerf bar and the running board with its wider step area. The one difference is that there still exists a space between the bar and the side of the vehicle, whereas a running board meets up to the vehicle’s rocker panel.
Hopefully, the preceding descriptions of nerf bar styles will help in your selecting the right fit for you. Remember your aftermarket truck accessories provider is a great resource for help in finding the right part for you, and in fact they may know of additional styles not mentioned in this article. Best of luck in you search!
Lou Berkowitz is the chief products evaluator at US Truck Accessories Warehouse, LLC a major aftermarket truck accessories supplier providing a wide selection of nerf bars and other products to the consumer. He may be reached at 1.800.394.3881