N-Fab’s Nerf Bars will get you into a lifted pickup truck faster than a lottery prize and a pushy salesman. That’s because they’re not just good looking, sitting there all cool with their glossy black zinc-undercoated finish. They’re also functional, helping you into your lifted truck so you don’t have to do a leg day every time you run to the store. They work so well, in fact, that they’ve been tested to 465 lbs, so you can climb up no matter how many refrigerators you’re carrying.
But maybe you’re worried about how to install a set of N-Fab nerf bars. Maybe it’s going to be difficult. Maybe you’ll have to hire someone, and he’ll charge you an arm and a leg, and then you’ll never be able to drive a manual transmission again. Never fear, my four-limbed friend. As long as you can turn a wrench, you can install a pair of N-Fab Nerf Steps by yourself. And if you can’t turn a wrench…just try. See? Here’s how to do the job:
N-Fab uses a dual-mount system to distribute the weight of your 6’3” frame between more points on your truck. There are three brackets on each bar, and each bracket mounts at two different points on the metal.
Thankfully, most modern trucks are designed with nerf bars in mind, and many even come with some kind of steps in stock form. If your truck has some stock steps, bars, or boards, it’s time to let go, uninstall them, and put them on Craigslist. That means there’s plenty of open sockets in your truck’s underbody for your N-Fabs. Look around under your truck and make note of where the mounting holes are.
Note: The mounting process will be slightly different with every make and model of truck, so we’ve tried to generalize them with this quick guide to give you an idea of how easy it is to do the job. When you’re installing your own nerf bars, we recommend following the excellent, vehicle specific, pictorial instructions N-Fab includes in the box.
1. Line them up
Lay your nerf bars out beside your truck, making sure they’re facing the right direction. Obviously the brackets point in toward the cab, but they may be on the wrong sides. If you have the bar on the correct side, its steps will be positioned toward the front half of their accompanying doors. If you’ve opted for the bed access bars, the cab entry steps will be longer than the bed access steps.
Now get under your truck with the bar on your chest like the world’s easiest bench press. Lift it up to see where the brackets will go. In most cases, the lower brackets will bolt to the pinch weld toward the edge of your truck, and the upper brackets will bolt through existing holes just above. This upper hole tends to vary more. On many Nissan trucks, for example, there’s a threaded stud in its place, which makes installation even easier.
2. Place the clips
That upper hole is generally situated next to a larger hole. Using the bigger hole, slide the threaded clip over the smaller hole. This will get it all set to go for the bolt.
Tech tip: We’ve seen at least one instance on an older truck where the bar didn’t fit between the tires, which were much larger than stock. If this is the case with your truck, you may need to trim the ends from your bars. This can be accomplished with a reciprocating or hack saw and a standard metal blade. Since N-Fab zinc-galvanizes their nerf bars, we recommend that you recoat the bare metal with aerosol zinc plating, which you can get at a hardware store.
3. Insert the bolts
This is where it helps to have a friend. Lift the bar up into place and insert each of the bolts up through the bottom brackets and the pinch welds, then thread the accompanying nuts to keep them in place. These lower bolts are domed carriage bolts, and the heads point down, as not to catch on anything you happen to be rolling through or over.
The upper bolts can be inserted into the top brackets now, as well, but don’t tighten them down yet.
Tech Tip: Some older trucks don’t have factory mounting holes in the pinch welds. Don’t freak out. You can line up the lower brackets, mark where the holes should go with a sharpie, then drill your own holes. It’s totally fine. We do recommend, however, that you paint the bare metal you leave before bolting up the nerf bars. This will prevent rust.
4. Tighten it up
Starting from the front, begin to tighten down the nuts on the bottom bolts. Hand tighten first. Then hand tighten the bolts on the top. Next cinch things up with a wrench, in the same order. Finally, use a torque wrench to make sure everything is properly tightened. The bottom bolts should be tightened to 15-20 lb-ft, then wrench tighten the top bolts.
5. Don’t forget the other side
Unless you never have any passengers and you want to save weight or something. It’s up to you. Your truck.
You know what to do.
See? It’s easy. It takes most people about 15 minutes to install the pair of them. Check out our full line of N-Fab nerf step bars, as well as their other awesome stuff, right here. Then let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page how you like them. Would you add any other tips or tricks to our installation guide?
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.