As great as 4x4s are, there are always ways to make them better. One of the most affordable ways to add functionality and protection to your vehicle is by installing a side step and rear step bumper bar. These 4×4 accessories can be made using a wide range of materials and finishes, and are specifically made to fit vehicles of certain makes, models and years. That being said, there are quite a few things you need to consider to make sure you make the right choices that add to the functionality and protection of your vehicle, and not take away from it.
Things to Consider When Buying a Rear Step Bumper
Rear bumpers, in general, get more abuse than front bumpers, as backing up your 4×4 can be challenging, especially when backing up off-road. For that reason, the rear step bumper bar you buy should have quality construction. This means the rear bumper bar should be built using durable materials and welded properly so it’s as protective and as strong as it needs to be.
There are some heavy-duty steel bumper bars that can also help with weight distribution, so consider whether that’s something you need. Furthermore, you need to consider how the rear bumper step attaches to your vehicle. More often than not, rear bumpers can be frame-mounted for optimum security and strength. Keep in mind that the rear bumper can be used as a recovery point for a 4WD winch just like front bumpers can be used, so consider whether you want a bumper that’s recovery rated.
Moreover, you need to make sure the rear bumper doesn’t interfere with any other parts of your vehicle. Most bumpers designed for off-roads typically won’t interfere, but you need to make sure it doesn’t cause clearance problems with the hitch receiver or tailgate if you’re towing a trailer or caravan. This also means that you need to make sure the bumper is compatible with your backing sensors. You’ll also have to decide whether you want the bumper bar to come with some extra utilities, such as to incorporate shackle mounts, 4WD winch mounts or tow hooks. Some models also make it easier to get in and out of the bed, while others come with housing for extra lighting.
Things to Consider When Buying Side Steps
The first thing you need to consider when buying side steps is whether you want a step bar or running board. Running boards are flus-mounted and flat, whereas step bars are tubular. If you want to keep the high ground clearance on your vehicle, there are retractable running boards, side steps that get out of the way when you want them to. So think about what your priorities are, and how you intend on using your vehicle and the side steps.
Next, you have to consider the cab length, and how it will impact the side step coverage. In other words, do you want to run the entire length of the cab with running boards, including the front and rear wheel well openings? These running boards can either be a one-piece section that’s designed to fit the exact weight of your 4×4, or they can be two separate sections that adjoin. If you prefer the latter, the first section will span the length of the cab area, whereas the second section is cut to fit the area under the bed.
Step bars, unlike running boards, are mostly used as an extra step to help you get in and out of your 4×4. Instead of featuring a flat plan, step bars come with tubular metal construction in an oval or round shape. Step bars are more discreet than running boards, but they can also add to the overall look of your vehicle, especially if they’re polished stainless steel or chrome. While they don’t provide as wide of a stepping area, there are some models that will fit most needs.
As briefly aforementioned, for those who want to keep their vehicle’s original ground clearance, retractable side steps are available. These allow you to get the best of both worlds – an attractive, functional side step and one that can be removed.
Side and rear steps can be very functional and protective 4×4 accessories that can also add to the overall appeal of your vehicle. There are plenty of choices for both side and rear steps, and what you choose should come down to personal needs and preference. Make sure the product you choose comes with a manufacturer’s warranty. As is with most things, the higher quality models cost more, but you’re bound to find something within an acceptable price range for you. If budget is a major concern for you, setting a price range for yourself will narrow down your search, helping you find a suitable product much faster.