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How To Clean And Maintain Your Truck’s Running Boards

A taller ride height is one of the benefits of driving a pickup truck, but it makes it more difficult to climb up into the cab. That’s doubly true for trucks equipped with a lift kit. Running boards are a popular solution to that annoyance, adding a midway step up to the seat. At the same time, they improve your truck’s aesthetic and even offer a bit of extra protection against impacts on the rockers and doors.

With an average set ranging in price from around $200 to $450, it gets expensive to replace beat-up and broken running boards. Fortunately, a little care and cleaning go a long way to protect your investment and keep them in good shape.

In this post, find out why it’s such a good idea to clean and maintain your running boards, what it takes to do so, and how to clean your truck’s running boards well.

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Why Cleaning and Maintaining Your Running Boards is Important

Taking care of your running boards isn’t simply about keeping them in good condition, but about overall vehicle condition and health. If you drive your truck at all where there’s dirt present – and that means anywhere – you know that the running boards tend to be the point where mud, grime, gravel, snow, and ice collect. That’s bad for a number of reasons: 

  • It creates a slippery surface to step on. You could fall, wrench your back, or otherwise get injured if you slip off of a slimy or wet running board. 
  • It accelerates wear on the running board. If there’s gravel, dirt, ice, or anything else that’s remotely abrasive on the step, placing your foot on it will grind at the finish on the running board. Even the best running boards will begin to look worse for wear after a short time. 
  • It looks bad. Obviously, a clean truck and running boards look much better and you’ll feel more confident behind the wheel. 
  • It can rust your truck. When dirt collects on the running boards, it tends to be where they join with the truck body. Moisture is held against the surface where any pores, cracks, and scratches are susceptible to corrosion forming prematurely. 

As well, there are a handful of fasteners that hold your running boards to your truck body. They can get loose after being trodden on day after day, and smaller parts can actually come off like the end caps or step pads. That’s not safe either, and the running board could break away or you could slip off the step. 

Recommended Tools to Clean Your Running Boards

If you already detail your own truck, you don’t need to make a massive investment in new cleaning equipment and supplies for the running boards. A few extra products that will last you for years will come in handy, but it won’t cost a fortune. 

To clean and maintain running boards, you’ll need: 

How to Clean Your Truck’s Running Boards 

Even the best running boards take a little bit of time to maintain and clean. If you spend a few minutes when you’re detailing your truck, though, it’s going to go quickly. Here are steps to follow. 

1. Rinse the Loose Dirt Away

Using a garden hose or a pressure washer, rinse away any dirt and grime that has built up on the running boards and the area around them including the undercarriage and chassis. It’s a good idea to have your truck already washed at this stage.

2. Scrub Stuck-on Dirt Off

Using warm water in your bucket with mild car wash soap, scrub the complete running board with a car wash mitt. Get any tough spots off with a soft-bristled brush. If there are asphalt spots, oils, or any other hard-to-remove substances, get them off with road grime and tar remover, then do a quick re-wash on that area. Rinse well with clean water afterward.

3. Dry the Running Boards

Wipe the running boards dry with a chamois or microfiber cloth. Keep this cloth separate from the rest of your cleaning cloths since you don’t want to rub abrasive materials it could attract onto your paint.

4. Check and Tighten Fasteners

With the running boards clean, check all of the fasteners holding the running boards in place. There are a few bolts attaching brackets to the frame or undercarriage as well as bolts and screws attaching the brackets to the running boards.

5. Replace Broken Parts

If you have any broken or missing fasteners, replace them with the same type and bolt grade as the others. If you have missing end caps or the step pad is loose or comes off, replace those as well. Several common brands have running board replacement parts available at AutoZone.

6. Clean and Protect the Finish

Polished aluminum or stainless steel tends to look dull and grimy after a while. Use an appropriate spray for the material your running boards are made of to restore their shine. If your running boards are painted, a coat of car wax can help give their gloss back and protect them until the next time you clean them.

Tips for How to Maintain Your Truck’s Running Boards

While it’s an uncomplicated procedure to perform, you can make your life even easier – and safer – with these tips for maintaining your running boards.

  • Avoid using detailing sprays to give a high shine on the tread or step. It can make it incredibly slick and unsafe to stand on.
  • Stay away from harsh chemicals. They can degrade the protective finish or discolor it.
  • Stay within the load-bearing limits. If more than one person stands on a running board and exceeds its capacity, it could bend or break it.
  • Consider replacing older running boards that aren’t in great shape anymore. Rust will reduce its strength.

For running boards, cleaning or maintenance supplies, or parts to fix your side steps, shop at your local AutoZone.

FAQ/People Also Ask

Why should I clean my truck’s running boards?

Dirt and moisture can accelerate corrosion on your running boards, not to mention it takes away from your truck’s looks.

How often should I clean my truck’s running boards?

A quick wash should be done at least once per month while a more in-depth clean can be performed every other month.

Can I use any cleaning product to clean my running boards?

Some cleaning products are too harsh for your running boards. If they’re not specified for use on the materials your running board is made of, test them in an inconspicuous location or avoid using them altogether.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean my running boards?

Yes. A pressure washer can make quick work of stuck-on mud and ice.

How can I maintain the appearance of my truck’s running boards?

Keep your running board fasteners tight and wash your running boards regularly to keep them looking well.

How can I prevent rust from forming on my running boards?

Avoid letting moisture or dirt sit against the running board or your truck’s body for any extended periods of time to prevent rust.

What should I do if my running boards are damaged?

Rather than chance a fall or damage to your vehicle, remove damaged running boards until you have the necessary parts to repair or replace them.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on AutoZone.com and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

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