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How to install Nerf Bars (step rails) to a Tundra Truck (ex: 2010 Toyota Tundra double-cab)

Good close up of what the Nerf Bars (also known as Sidestep Rails) look like on a new Toyota Tundra.

Good close up of what the Nerf Bars (also known as Sidestep Rails) look like on a new Toyota Tundra.

Buy your Nerf Bars Here

Plan on installing those side step bars (aka Nerf Bars) for your Tundra yourself? Nice!

It is a fairly simple process, but not so simple that a nice, brief article couldn't help sidestep some of the common pitfalls.This is definitely a do it your (DIY) job, and definitely an after market purchase. You'll pay double from a dealer.

In this article you will learn how to:

  • Install Nerf Bars for your Truck (using a 2010 Toyota Tundra Double Cab as an example truck)
  • Avoid pitfalls, common to this type of installation
  • How to / where to buy them (if you haven't already)

Difficulty / Experience required:

  • Easy
  • Basic

Tools / Materials Required:

  • Properly Sized Wrench
    NOTE: A ratcheting wrench, with a 3" depth extender, will make this job infinitely easier. If you don't have one, you'll make it, but it will take significantly longer.
  • Nerf Bar Kit (Two Nerf Bars, Hardware, Instructions)
    NOTE: Your truck model might very well have unique measurements and installation requirements. Make sure the Nerf Bars you ordered are for your make and model specifically.

Time Required: 30 minutes
Manpower: One (Two preferred)

Let's get started with installing your truck's new side step rails

First off, there are so many names for these darn things: steps rails, side step bars, step rails, running boards ... but the correct terminology is Nerf Bar. Why? Who knows ... So from here on out, they will be referred to as such. I'm also going to assume you have someone assisting you during this process. While it can be done solo, I recommend having a buddy helping. Much easier, and faster.

Prepare your work area

  • Open the package. The parts will be marked: Driver's Side, Passenger Side, and then for the brackets: PR, PC, PF, DR, DC, DF (Passenger Rear, Passenger Center, Driver Rear, and so on ...)
  • Divide the contents and place them on each side of your truck
    1. You're most likely working on a driveway. Do not place your Nerf Bars on the concrete. They will get scratched, instantly. Especially if you ordered a nice black powder coat, or shiny chrome.
    2. Either reuse the bubble wrap they hopefully came in, the top and bottom of the box, or walk a couple steps and lay them in the grass (I prefer the latter).
  • Have your favorite beverage close by. Oh yeah, and you're tools ... (you better have that darn ratchet!)

Install the Nerf Bars

  1. Be familiar with what each piece in your kit is going to do. Each Nerf Bar will use three brackets (rear, center, and front). The bracket will be in an elbow shape, which a rounded bevel to set the bar in. Each bracket is affixed by four screws / bolts (there will be washers, and lock washer, but no nuts). They are going to be hex screws.
  2. Your Nerf Bar kit will only include (12) screws when (24) are required to do the job. This is because the Toyota Tundra's frame is pre-drilled for the installation of Nerf Bars. Additionally, those pre-drilled hols come equipped with screws. Each side actually has nine holes with hex screws. You will use these screws to attach the bracket to the frame, and the screws that came with the Nerf Bar kit to attach the actual rail to the bracket.
  3. Visually inspect the frame of your Tundra. You will see the pre-drilled holes filled with screws. You'll see four sets of two, and then a lone screw next to an empty screw hole at the front-most section of the frame (just before the wheel well). Line up the holes on your Nerf Bars and determine which screws you're going to use.
  4. Remove the necessary screws from the frame of your truck. Place them locally, you'll use them in a minute.
  5. One of the pairs of screws, that are already in your frame, will not line up. Don't worry. These are extras (for different types of installations). You're going to use one of those (from each side) for each front bracket, respectively.
  6. Attach the brackets to the frame. Use the screws you removed from the frame to do this. DO NOT over tighten. Tighten them just enough to hold, but loose enough to provide some play. This is critically important. Affix all three brackets for the side you've chosen to start with.
  7. Have your friend / assistant steady the Nerf Bar into the brackets. You should be on your back, looking up at the frame and the brackets. Don't panic. The holes on the Nerf Bars, and the brackets they are supposed to attach to, are not going to line up perfectly. Play with the bar, making sure not to slide it excessively (it will scratch). Play with the bracket until you get match.
  8. Make sure the stepping platform is level. You can eyeball this. But you really want to make sure that the stepping platform is fairly level before you tighten everything down.
  9. Fasten one bracket to the Nerf Bar at a time. Similarly to before, do not over tighten these. You're going to need a little bit of play to get all of the brackets to line up properly. Work your way to the front until all six screws, that came with your kit, are assembled into the Nerf Rail.
  10. Double-check for level. Make any required adjustments while you still have some play.
  11. Tighten all the screws down for this side. Go back and run the same routine, except this time use your ratchet to tighten each hex screw into its final position. It should be fully tightened. Just be careful not to strip hex.
  12. Test the Newly installed Nerf Bar. Open the doors and try that side out. If everything works fine, which it will, then you're done! Repeat the necessary steps for the other side, and you're golden.
  13. Take a step back and enjoy the new sight of your truck, with its much deserving Nerf Bars - that you installed!

Awesome, but I have not purchased my Nerf Bars yet. Where should I get them?

I did not order my Nerf Bars from the dealer, because I did not want to get taken. I did a little research, and I purchased mine from a site called AutoAnything. They were priced to move, did not charge me shipping, and the product showed up promptly, and was packaged well.

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I linked to several quality Nerf Bars above, over at Amazon. I would also highly recommend purchasing from Amazon.

I'm pretty active here, so if you have any questions just send me a message, or preferably, leave a comment, so down the road, if others have the same question, they can see the answer. Enjoy your new Nerf Bars and good decision to install them yourself!

Be peaceful on your way,


Read other "How To" articles by Time Spiral, below


Midwest Aftermarket on June 05, 2018:

Thanks for the information you brought to us. They are very interesting and new. Look forward to reading more useful and new articles from you!

tectonic from Singapore on January 12, 2011:

Great hubpage here .

JC on July 22, 2010:


is there any chance you have the L/H & R/H swapped.

2" is a long way off, but both ends would still line up

Jeff on June 02, 2010:

thanks for the info. Unfortunately it is not always that easy. I order the TrailFx for my particular model, a 2010 Tundra double cab and the middle bracket holes don't line up. So,I am searching trying to figure out what to do. The front and back are perfect but the middle is more than two inches off and there is no way to manipulate it into fitting.

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