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How to Install Running Boards on a Chevy Silverado! It’s Easier than you Think!

How to install running boards on Chevy Silverado properly!

You may want to install running boards for aesthetic or practical purposes but it seems complicated or daunting and you’re unsure about it…

What if I told you the process can be simple and easy… Something anyone can do themselves.

All you need to do is make sure you follow the advice listed in this article and you’ll be on your way to a brand new set of running boards. Your Silverado will get the functionality you need and a boost in the visual appeal!

This article will cover the broad steps. On top of that it provides some extra information you’ll want to know about installing running boards on your Silverado.

Once you’ve learned how to install a Running Board, check out our article on the Best Running Boards for Chevy Silverado.

Chevy Silverado Running Boards Installation – What you need to know before getting started! Don’t Skip!

The first thing you need to know is that installation will vary depending on the Running board you buy as well as the model and year of your Chevy Silverado.

So, what we can give you in this article is an overview of the steps so you can get a sense of the procedure. From there, you will be able to use the instructions provided by the running board manufacturer to install the specific set.

The second thing you need to know is that there are different types of Running boards. However, let’s call them ‘step bars’ because a running board is a type of step bar. I know it is all a bit confusing but let’s not get too bogged down with the terminology.

Thirdly, and we really want to emphasize this point, you need to make double sure that you are buying a running board that is compatible with your model and year. If you don’t you are going to struggle to fit your running board because the holes will not line correctly. Save yourself the headache by double-checking the compatibility.

Lastly, we will not be covering the steps required for electric, retractable side steps as these are a lot more complicated and require a lot more technical expertise. Furthermore, each product will have different installation steps so it is unhelpful to try and provide a blanket installation guide.

Types of Automotive Side Steps

Firstly, it is important to note that there are many variations and styles of steps you can attach to your truck. Thus, we are not going to attempt an exhaustive list as it will most likely bore you or waste your time. If you are curious though, this article goes into almost every variation.

The main variations that you will find are as follows:

Nerf Bars

These are generally tubular cylinders that have individual steps on the front and passenger doors. They also come in a few types and can be made with round tubing or oval tubing. More details.

Running Boards

Running boards are generally a wider flatter step than the rest. More details.

Side Steps / Hoop Steps

These are individual steps for each door. Thus, they do not cover the length of the cab or wheel-base like the other examples. More details.

Retractable Side Steps

As the name suggests, this type of running board is electric and can retract out of sight when not in use. More details.

Rocker Bars

Rocker bars are running boards that have the most protection when driving off-road because. The design is slightly different and more rugged than regular running boards. More details.

Length variations:

There are also length variations as follows:

Cab-length running boards

A Cab-length running board simply means that the running board spans the length of the cab of your truck. So, a crew cab will be longer than a double or extended cab as an example.

Wheel-to-wheel running boards

This type of side step runs from wheel to wheel. So, it is longer than the above variations as it covers the distance between your from wheels and your back wheels.

Now that we have all that information covered, we can dive into the real meat of this article:

How to Install Side Steps on a Chevy Silverado in 5 Steps

These steps will give you an overview of the process so you know what to expect with the running board you end up buying.

Generally speaking, you should not need to drill any holes as all the holes will already be available with your truck as a standard. If you have bought the correct running board, the whole process should be simple and something anyone can do.

Tools Required

Chevy Silverado running boards are designed to bolt onto the holes that already exist underneath your truck on either side.

The tools required for installation will vary depending on the product you are installing. However, you can expect to require all or some of the following tools:

  • Spanner or socket wrench
  • Socket extension
  • Screwdriver

Now, let’s dive into the specific steps:

Step 1 – Read the instructions

This may sound obvious but it really must be said. Each running board will be different so read the instruction and determine the correct procedure.

Note – running boards are side specific so make sure you determine which board goes on which side.

Step 2 – Mounting brackets

Generally speaking, your running board will consist of brackets that mount onto the underside of your truck. Then the actual board which will be mounted onto those brackets.

Often running boards will come with a bunch of different mounts and adaptors so it is important to note that you may not require all of them. No need to second guess the installation or worry about leftover parts.

The first thing you will need to do is locate the holes that you will mount the brackets onto. Each bracket will mount using two holes. One hole will be a tab on your car’s pinch weld (the part of your truck you would locate a tire/scissor jack in order to change a tire) or near your pinch weld. The other hole will be larger and higher up.

You may have to remove plastic/rubber caps from these holes. You will likely not need all the holes so determine which ones the running board will use first.

Once you have done the above you can mount the brackets using whatever method and hardware the manufacturer requires. Broadly speaking, you will simply bolt each bracket into place but do not fully tighten the bolts at this stage.

Step 3 – Mount the top board

The next step will be to mount the running board on top of the brackets you have just fitted.

Sometimes, there is a step before mounting the board like placing a cover over the brackets so do this if required.

The running board will either have holes underneath it for it to be bolted onto the bracket or it will require you to slide bolts through two tracks on the underside. If you are working with tracks, you will need to space the bolts according to the spacing of your mounting brackets.

Whatever the case, your next step will be to carefully place the board on top of your brackets while lining up the bolts or bolt holes.

From there, screw in all your bolts. Again, do not fully tighten…finger tight is fine.

Step 4 – Adjust, level and tighten the Running Board

Once you have completed the above steps, everything should be in place but loose enough so that you can make sure your board is level. There may be some horizontal movement as well so adjust as required.

Now you can tighten all your bolts!

Step 5 – Repeat on the other side

Now all you have to do is repeat all the previous steps for the other side of your truck.

Once complete, the only thing left to do is stand back and admire your handiwork!

Benefits of Running boards

You may also want to know whether the effort of installing a running is worth it. Is the juice worth the squeeze, so to speak? Below are some of the benefits of installing running boards to inform the decision but let’s start with a quick visual overview before diving into the detail:

how to install running boards on chevy silverado benefits


A running board will protect the body of your truck from debris or gravel that is shot up by the tires when driving, especially when off-road.

Step up

A great benefit is the privision of a lower step. This is often the reason to get a running board as it makes it easier to get into your truck.

This can be helpful for children or the elderly but is useful in general. It is especially helpful if you’ve raised your truck with a lift kit or leveling kit.


Installing a running board can also upgrade the visual impact of your vehicle. This can sometimes be the sole reason for installing running boards. With the right choice, you can massively boost the appeal of your truck!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does it cost to put running boards on a truck?

It can cost anywhere between $150 up to $1800 for electric, retractable running boards. The more you pay, the higher the quality of materials. So, when it comes to running boards, we recommend going with the best you can afford.

Can you install running boards yourself?

Yes, you can. If you make sure to pick a running board that fits your make and model and have a few basic tools, the process is relatively easy and simple. Most trucks are designed to have running boards installed so you should be able to simply bolt everything on.

If you are unsure, review the steps we have outlined for installing running boards again and make a judgment on whether it seems doable with your skillset.

The only exception to the above is when it comes to electric retractable running boards. These can absolutely be installed yourself but require more technical ability and know-how.

Why do they call them Nerf Bars?

The word ‘nerf’ is actually a racing term used to describe when a driver slightly bumps into a rival vehicle while trying to overtake them. Racing cars are fitted with a device to protect the side of the vehicle and prevent the tires from coming into contact as this could have disastrous results. Consequently, the term ‘nerf bars’ was formed.

How do I choose the right running board?

First, you should take a look at what running boards are available for your vehicle’s make, model, and year. From there you can decide on the style of running boards you want or need including nerf bars, side steps, running boards, or rocker bars. You will want to consider the reason you want them, be it aesthetic, as a step up, or for off-roading because that will inform your choice as well.

Other considerations include the length (cab-length or wheel-to-wheel) and width of your board (4″ – 6″). Furthermore, running boards are cab-specific so make sure the board you choose is designed for your truck’s cab type, be it a crew cab or a double/extended cab.


As you should have seen by now, installing running boards of your Chevy is not an extremely difficult task and is something that most people can do by themselves.

The biggest takeaway is that you should always make sure that you are buying a running board that is designed to fit your Silverado model and year. Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure to identify if it is made for a crew cab or a double cab and then pick accordingly.

By following the advice and steps in this article you should have a brand new set of stylish running boards installed in no time!

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