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    Resources — steps

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    A common upgrade that Tacoma owners absolutely love to put on their trucks are rock sliders or side steps. Because of this, many Tacoma owners have the question... what’s the difference? The difference is HUGE, and which one you decide to go with really depends on your needs.

    In short, steps generally bolt to your body of the truck and provide easier access to getting into your truck. Sliders generally bolt to your frame and offer protection to the body panels of your truck when doing some serious off-roading. Let's dive in a bit deeper.


    Steps are just that: steps. If you've added a decent lift to your Tacoma and need a little extra help getting in, these give you that extra bump you need. There are plenty of options to choose from depending on your budget and needs. Here are some of those options:

    Single Hoop and Nerf Bars

    Hoop steps and Nerf bars may come as a single, or a double set attached to a tube. Single steps can be an affordable option (around $50), but you may have to drill to get the to fit properly. 

    A set that will fit for sure would be an OEM Predator Tube step.  I'm seeing a lot of dealerships installing these before selling the truck to the public. These are about $548 on Amazon. A cheaper aftermarket Nerf bar can also be had for around $180.

    Running Boards

    Running board are usually one long step that run from your front door to the back of your rear door. Running boards can have hoop steps like nerf bars. Some companies interchange the names, but there are different styles. An average price would be like these iBoard Tacoma running boards for around $220.


    Retractable running boards or side steps are very expensive, but add a very luxurious feel and style to your truck. These stay tucked flush against or under your truck until you’re ready to get in, then they will lower electronically. AMP Research makes a set for around $1500, and that is a typical price.


    As mentioned before, rock sliders bolt to your frame and are designed for protection. If you do some rock crawling or extreme off roading, you run the risk of the rock slamming into the bottom of your truck near the edges. If that happens, you can seriously damage your side panels, and it could even lead to your doors being misaligned. If you play hard, you need to have protection. 

    Note: Some rock sliders have steps, but if they do, they resemble running boards. Hoop and Nerf type steps would snag on rocks and potentially get you stuck.

    The average cost for rock sliders is going to be around $250 to $550 depending on brand and material. Remember that while they may look good, the are supposed to be able to take a beating so you don’t need to get body work done later. Here are a few that you might consider as you're doing your research:

    First, let's start with the Cali Raised rock sliders that we carry here at Empyre Offroad. These things are amazing. They are build extremely well and look so good installed on your Tacoma. The cost on these is $500 without any customization such as powder coating, the ability to bolt them on vs welding etc.

    Bay Area Metal Fabrication (BAMF) makes a set of sliders for around $450. A lot of people talk about these on the forums, so they must be really solid and do their job well.

    Another popular choice is from SOS Off Road Concepts. These are a little on the higher end at around $580, but people are happy with them. Both these and the ones from BAMF offer running board-style steps. 

    4x Innovations makes a cheaper solution at $245, but you do have to get them welded on. So unless you have a welder laying around your garage or a neighbor who welds, it could end up costing you a bit more. 

    As you can see, there are plenty of options out there, and this guide should help point you in the correct direction to help you understand the difference between sliders and steps, and what to get for your truck.

    Image Credits

    Single/Nerf “Predator” Step - Tacoma World user HardCase

    Running Boards - Aries Automotive

    Retractable - Truck Access Plus

    BAMF Sliders - Bay Area Metal Fab

    SOS Off Road Concepts Sliders - SOS Off Road

    4x Industries - TTORA user Scuba

    Cali Rasied Slider - Cali Raised

    * Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.