Since its debut in 1995, the Toyota Tacoma has been the go-to pickup for those wanting a rugged vehicle that’s capable of handling tough jobs. While they have a lot to offer straight from the factory, some accessories can take the truck to the next level.
The best running boards for Toyota Tacomas are a must-have accessory that can keep the truck protected while making it much easier to get into. Before you pick up the first running board you see, you need to ensure that you’re getting a top-notch board that fits the parameters of your truck perfectly. Otherwise, you’re risking personal injury and damage to your investment.
Luckily, we’ve rounded up some of the best options on the market. Take a look at our comparison chart and buying guide to find one that works for your Toyota Tacoma.
Top 5 Toyota Tacoma Running Boards 2020
1. TAC 4-Inch Side Steps Oval Bend
2. Tyger Auto Black 4 Inch TG-RS2T40158 Riser
3. TAC 3-Inch Side Steps Black Side Bars
4. Tyger Auto Textured Black TG-AM2T20048 Star Armor Kit
5. APS iBoard 5-Inch Running Boards
- Top 5 Toyota Tacoma Running Boards 2020
- 1. TAC 4-Inch Side Steps Oval Bend – Best All-Around Choice
- 2. Tyger Auto Black 4 Inch TG-RS2T40158 Riser – Best Weather-Protected Option
- 3. TAC 3-Inch Side Steps Black Side Bars – Best Affordable Product
- 4. Tyger Auto Textured Black TG-AM2T20048 Star Armor Kit – Best for Maximum Protection
- 5. APS iBoard 5-Inch Running Boards – Best for Stability
- What is a Running Board, and How Do They Work?
- The Benefits of Installing a Running Board on Your Toyota Tacoma
- How to Choose a Running Board
- Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of the best running boards for Toyota Tacoma available on the market today.
1. TAC 4-Inch Side Steps Oval Bend – Best All-Around Choice
While they look simple, these running boards are built to last. They’re made out of a single piece of steel tube. The steel is durable enough to hold hundreds of pounds without any issues. It’s covered in texturized black plastic to improve grip while enhancing its finish.
To overcome the challenges of stepping onto a cylindrical tube, TAC utilizes some large steeping pads. They’re about 4 inches thick and have plenty of treads to improve your stability.
Overall, these boards are a good universal choice for Tacoma owners. They’re easy to install and won’t detract from the look of your truck.
2. Tyger Auto Black 4 Inch TG-RS2T40158 Riser – Best Weather-Protected Option
Because they are on the more affordable side, don’t expect to get impeccable protection like some other models. These boards are made out of steel tubes. While it’s tough enough to support several hundred pounds without any problems, the tube is relatively thin. As a result, the running boards are prone to scratches and dents.
If that’s not a deal-breaker for you, these boards do have a long-lasting finish. The powder-coated finish is rust-resistant. Pair that with the UV-resistant step pads, and the accessories will withstand any inclement weather you might encounter.
Thanks to the lasting finish and affordability of the Tyger running boards, they are worth consideration. While they might not provide the most protection against rocks and bumps, they certainly serve their purpose.
3. TAC 3-Inch Side Steps Black Side Bars – Best Affordable Product
Like the other TAC running boards on this list, this product is made out of steel for durability. However, the steel covered in two different coatings for protection. The first is a smooth e-coating. This layer uses electricity to ensure that paint adheres properly. On top of that, TAC applied a powder coat. It’s meant to protect against the elements while giving the boards a smooth matte finish.
With its durable materials and high-quality coating, these running boards are a good buy. They’re durable enough to hold up to inclement weather. Plus, they have an attractive price tag you can’t ignore.
4. Tyger Auto Textured Black TG-AM2T20048 Star Armor Kit – Best for Maximum Protection
While most boards are made out of a single tube of metal, this option uses three. Each steel tube is about 2 inches in diameter. The tubes are arranged in a dual girder design. The tubes on the bottom of the boards provide maximum protection against rocks, logs, and accidental bumps.
Overall, these running boards can withstand a lot more than you expect. Tyger has put a lot of thought into the engineering of these accessories. From the dual-layer coating that prevents weather damage to the multiple weld points throughout, these boards have what it takes to handle tougher rides.
5. APS iBoard 5-Inch Running Boards – Best for Stability
In addition to having impressive construction, these boards provide some of the best stability you can find. Rather than limiting your stepping space to a small pad, the entire unit is covered in rubber. The treads are thick and deep, which makes it easier to grip with your shoes. There’s not a single smooth surface on the top of the boards. So, you can step confidently.
These running boards might look simple. However, the uniform design and expansive rubber pad do wonders to improve traction. They’re a safe bet that could be beneficial for trucks used by kids and elderly folks.
What is a Running Board, and How Do They Work?
Trucks and cars have changed a lot in the last century. However, running boards are one thing that has remained constant. These simple accessories are designed to help both drivers and passengers get into the vehicle comfortably. Basically, they are narrow steps mounted onto the side of trucks.
Back in the early 20th century, all vehicles had running boards. Of course, cars became more aerodynamic with time. This eliminated the need for running boards. By the end of the 1930s, they were considered old-news for cars. Truck manufacturers started to do away with them in the 1950s, too.
However, as trucks became bigger and more rugged, these accessories came back into the limelight. Today, they’re a common add-on for pickups like the Toyota Tacoma. They add tons of value to the truck and a slew of practical benefits, which we’ll get into in a bit.
The Installation Process
Because running boards are meant to support your weight, they need to be mounted correctly. Here’s where choosing the right running board is important. Most models are designed to mount directly onto the vehicle chassis. It’s the structural framework of the vehicle and is built to be ultra durable.
Not all truck manufacturers utilize the same chassis. Each big-name truck brand has its own proprietary framework in place. Thus, a running board made for a Dodge RAM 1500 truck isn’t going to work on your Tacoma.
The good news is that Toyota makes things incredibly easy for you. New Toyota Tacomas have mounting points pre-drilled into the frame. Usually, they’re covered by dust caps and located beneath the doorframes. All you need to do is remove the caps and bolt your board to the frame with some heavy-duty hardware. In most cases, all of that is included with the running board.
There’s no need to worry about drilling your own holes. You won’t even need to purchase adapter mounts. As long as you choose a board that’s made for your truck model, installation can be done quickly and efficiently.
The Benefits of Installing a Running Board on Your Toyota Tacoma
Not only do running boards provide some distinct style to your truck, but they’re a practical accessory that does way more than most people think. There are several reasons why you see so many trucks on the road with running boards.
They Provide Easy Entry Into the Cab
Technically speaking, the Tacoma is a mid-sized pickup truck. It’s not the biggest truck out there. Nor is it the biggest truck model in Toyota’s lineup. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use a little assistance getting in.
Despite its mid-size classification, the Tacoma has some considerable ground clearance. Most models have a cab floor that’s about 9.4 inches off the ground. It has one of the highest ground clearances in the market!
It might not seem like less than a foot would be a problem, but climbing into a truck that high can put considerable strain on your knee. In fact, knee injuries are quite common among truck drivers. Referred to as “Jumper’s Knee,” the injury is a direct result of getting in and out of high vehicles.
A running board acts as a step to make things easier. It’s beneficial for anyone, not just those who are on the shorter side.
They Protect the Truck from Damage
Another big perk of installing a running board is that they protect your truck from damage. Say that your cruising on a dirt road filled with rocks. Those tiny rocks can easily kick up and ruin that smooth finish on your truck!
A running board acts as an effective barrier against abrasive damage. Even in a parking lot, it offers some nice protection against dings. Having that extra line of defense can keep your truck looking good for years to come.
They Keep Dirt Out
Finally, a running board is capable of keeping dust out. Most are equipped with treads. You can use the board to kick mud and debris off your boots before you get in, leaving less of a mess for you to clean up later.
How to Choose a Running Board
There’s no shortage of running boards on the market. The aftermarket industry provides plenty of designs and materials to choose from. Here are some important things to consider as you shop.
Tacoma Cab Length
The first thing you need to figure out is what kind of cab you have. The modern generation of Tacomas is available in two cab lengths. Both have room for backseat passengers. However, there are some significant differences in size that will affect the type of running board you choose.
The Access Cab only has two doors. The rear passenger seats are accessed by tilting the driver’s seat upward. Thus, the overall length of the cab is shorter. On the other hand, the Double Cab has four doors. Each passenger will need part of the running board to get in.
The length of the bed won’t matter when it comes to running boards. The board only covers the cab.
You have a few different material options available for running boards. The main structure of the board will usually be made out of materials like aluminum or steel. Aluminum is a lightweight material that can be finished to look like chrome if the style is a priority. Meanwhile, steel offers the best in durability.
Fiberglass and plastic boards exist, too. These are both very light and can be painted to match your truck. The downside is that they aren’t the most stable choices.
Traction and Safety
When it comes to safety, you want to make sure that your running boards have some kind of built-in traction. Smooth bars will only increase your chances of slipping. Look out for a diamond plate, rubber treads, and other features that improve your stability when you step on the board.
Weight capacity largely depends on the material and build quality. Pay close attention to the weight rating of your accessory and make sure that it can accommodate everyone who uses the truck regularly. Keep in mind that these boards are often used by multiple people simultaneously when you’re loading up the truck.
Most boards have a standard weight capacity of about 500 pounds. Though, you can find options that will support more.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are running boards for Tacoma easy to install?
Toyota includes running board mounting points on modern Tacomas. Thus, they’re very easy to install.
2. How much weight can running boards for Toyota Tacoma hold?
Most can hold up to 500 pounds.
3. Will Toyota Tacoma running boards affect gas mileage?
All running boards will affect gas mileage to some extent. They add weight to the truck, which will reduce efficiency. However, the difference they make isn’t too bad compared to some heftier add-ons.
4. Do running boards for Tacoma reduce ground clearance?
This depends on the length of the mounting bracket. Most will not affect ground clearance. However, lower steps could make it difficult to get over hills and rocky terrain.
Running boards for Toyota Tacoma are a worthy aftermarket upgrade that can enhance the functionality of your truck. They make it easier for you to get into the cab while providing some much-needed protection against debris.
Whether you use your truck for work or play, a running board will enhance the experience tenfold. The Tacoma continues to be one of the top-selling mid-size trucks on the market. A solid running board will make this already-great truck even better.