Like many people, I tend to read a LOT of reviews before purchasing any product. However, I found a very limited number of reviews on alternatives to the OEM tube steps. My goal for this post is to present an alternate option to the OEM tube steps and help those looking at truck steps make a more informed decision.
First, let me say that I agree with other posts on TW that rock sliders will offer better protection when doing heavy off-roading or rock crawling. However, I plan on doing only minor off-roading. Hence I settled on tube steps over other options to (1) make it easier to enter the truck (2) help provide access to the roof rack, (3) absorb random dings from car doors in crowded parking lots, and (4) improve the aesthetics of the truck.
I looked at a number of tube steps including Westin, OEM, Go Rhino, and others. I really liked the look of the OEM black tube steps on the Tacoma, but I didn’t want to spend $450 dollars. I felt the 5” tubes were a good size (3” seemed too small). In the end I selected the 5” Xtreme Oval Nerf Bars from Go Rhino because they were very similar to the OEM look at a lower cost. I purchased mine from AutoAnything.com using their new customer 15% discount with free shipping for a little under $300.
The tube steps and mounting brackets arrived in separate packages that were well padded. Installation was straightforward and took me about 2 hours, though I am pretty particular about alignment. It likely can be installed quicker by those less concerned about precision or with more mechanical experience.
Step 1: Note the 11 Ft-lb torque rating for the bolts, then discard the instructions. Not only is the installation very straightforward, the instructions are not particularly detailed and there are a few mistakes (e.g. M8x30 and M8x25 mm bolts were discussed, but only M8x25 mm bolts were included).
Step 2: Unscrew the plastic plugs covering the factory holes under each side of the truck.
Step 3: The front brackets differ from the middle and rear brackets. The instructions state to loosely attach the brackets, loosely attach the tube steps, and align before tightening. I found that aligning the brackets perpendicular to the truck using a T-square and tightening them first was more efficient since I had less to manipulate later in the installation. Tighten the silver M8x25 bolts, lock washer, and washer combination to 11 Ft-lb using a 13mm socket. As an added precaution I used Loctite (blue, semi-permanent) on each bolt to prevent loosening.
Step 4: Slide the brown square head bolts into the inner and outer most tracks on the bottom of the tube step to the approximate locations of the brackets. Ignore the middle track.
Step 5: Align the tube step forward/rearward and side-to-side to your desired location. I found that aligning the front of the tube step about 2.5” from the front mud flap gave the best fit.
Step 6: Tighten the washer, lock washer, nut combination using a 13 mm socket to 11 Ft-lb. Don’t forget to apply Loctite (or equivalent) here too.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the purchase. The tube steps look great and were lower cost than the OEM version. I have found that the brackets do flex slightly when stepping on the tube steps. Given this is my first experience with any type of truck step, I am not sure if this is commonplace. I am small statured so I suspect it will flex more for those larger than myself, but I do believe they will carry the weight of a heavier person. I have only had them for a few weeks, but haven’t experienced any problems.