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The Chevy Colorado has been around for quite a few years now, with new additions and trim levels coming out every year. With so many options and models available, it can be a lot to take in. But if there’s one thing every Colorado needs, it’s running boards. Not every model and trim level comes with running boards included. When you drove your Colorado off the lot, there’s a fair chance that you forgot to ask about them. That’s understandable. The good news is that you can buy and install running boards after-market.
How to Install Running Boards on Your Chevy Colorado
Installing running boards is much easier than most people think. The good news is that you won’t have to disassemble anything before you begin. But you will have to either raise the vehicle or be prepared to work from the ground level. Once you get your equipment set up, most people should be able to complete the job in one to two hours total.
Once you’ve installed your running boards, you will enjoy greater ease getting in and out of the truck. It’s a great addition to the rugged good looks of the Colorado line, and it will add value to your investment.
Step 1. The Set-Up
If you opt not to elevate your Colorado, then your best bet is to go with a mechanic’s creeper. This will make the job go by much more quickly if you have a smooth, paved floor to work on. A mechanic’s creeper is a rolling bench that you can lay down on while working under a vehicle. Most Colorados have significant ground clearance, so you’ll be pretty comfortable using a creeper. This will easily shave half an hour off of the time needed to complete this job, but it is not necessary.
In most cases, the brackets and the running boards will come in two separate boxes, if you order them online. There have been a few cases where Colorado owners have phoned in complaints because the brackets or the running boards arrived first and the person assumed that the shipment was incomplete. Usually, they will arrive at the same time. But don’t worry if they don’t, the rest of the shipment should be on its way. Your hardware will come with a set of instructions with images that will be very helpful.
The brackets will come in vacuum-sealed plastic on a cardboard backing. This is done to protect the brackets from any corrosion they may otherwise develop during shipping. The cardboard backing protects them from bumps during shipping. This is important because these are your load-bearing components, and they need to be in peak condition on arrival. The brackets will usually be powder coated or sealed in some other way. The packaging is meant to keep any of the sealant from being knocked off during shipping.
The running boards will come as an aluminum extrusion with plastic end caps. They are light, strong, and durable. You’ll notice a series of grooves with squared edges on the top of the running boards to provide traction. This alleviates the need for traction grit or grip tape and is a simple and functional design.
It’s a good idea to get a pair of safety glasses to keep falling debris, metal flakes, and the like from falling into your eyes. In addition to your optional creeper and safety glasses, you will also need a ratchet & socket set and box end wrenches. Your package should come with bolts, washers, speed clips, and other fastening hardware.
Finally, you might want to have a screwdriver style pick on hand to help remove the plastic covers from the factory holes on the lower-inner bolt holes on the frame of the truck.
Step 2. Bolt Plate and Factory Holes
Most full-size trucks will have factory provided holes. This is somewhat of a miracle in the automotive world, and it makes it possible for this job to be done by DIY mechanics, rather than rely on professional after-market work in most cases.
Keep in mind that the holes you want to attach your brackets to are in the body mount underneath and on the inside. They are NOT the holes you may find on the bottom of the exterior of the truck. The holes you find in the bottom of the painted body of the truck are drain holes. Their purpose is to give moisture a way out of the body of the truck to prevent mold and corrosion from developing. These are not meant to hold weight-bearing structures.
Simply slot your brackets into the holes in preparation for permanent fastening. The holes you are looking for are downward facing and covered with a plastic cap. Right next to them, you should find a smaller hole that is not covered. Above these, you will find inward-facing holes. Just like the first holes, there will be a plastic cap and an accompanying smaller hole. Once you find the right holes, you can remove the plastic cover and discard it.
By comparing the shape of the bracket to the configuration of these holes, you will quickly understand how they are meant to be attached.
The number of factory holes may vary by model year. In a few rare cases, you may find there are no holes at all on the inner, lower frame of the truck. This should be the first thing you check for before buying the brackets and runners. If there are no factory holes, you will either need to be prepared to drill them yourself or take it in to have the holes made by a professional.
Step 3. Attach Brackets Using Provided Hardware
Once you have located all of your mounting holes, attach your speed clips to the holes, and set your brackets in place. Thread in your bolts by hand, without tightening them down. Repeat this process for your center and rear brackets until all of them are in place and hand tightened. They will need to be adjusted again when you finally install the step rail, so it’s important to not tighten them down fully at this point.
Notice that the load-bearing surfaces of the brackets are not all the same. The front brackets have a top plate that is bent back, while the rear brackets are bent forward. This will make a difference when you attach your step rail. If the brackets are not in the right spots, the rail may not hang correctly. This is another reason you don’t want to fasten down your brackets yet.
Step 4. Match Your Step Rail to Your Brackets
Most models of running board provide a nut rail rather than holes to screw the bolts into. At one end of the step rail, you will find a slot into which you can slide the tops of your bolts. Simply slide these down the rail to match your brackets. Then set your step rail onto your brackets, aligning the sliding bolts into the holes on your brackets.
Step 5. Feed the Bolts Through the Slots on the Brackets
Now, feeding your bolts through the slots in the brackets should be easy. Make sure every bracket slot is fed with bolts, and make sure your step rail is where you want it to be. Then you can begin tightening down the whole assembly.
Step 6. Tighten Down the Full Assembly
Once you have fed all of your slots with the correct amount of bolts, and your rail is in the desired position, begin tightening down the bolts.
Begin by tightening down the bolts that hold the brackets to the mounded frame. Then tighten the bolts that fasten the step to the brackets.
At this point, you should be nearly finished. Step on the rail lightly to test it. Try to wiggle it with your hand. If it is firmly in place and positioned where you want it, you’re all done. Complete any desired adjustments before tightening down the bolts fully, and enjoy the convenience of your new running boards.
Finally, nothing quite like seeing how it's done! Here's a video showing how running boards are installed on a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado truck -