Aluminum Running Boards
4 minutes

Running boards, once a staple of rugged trucks and off-road vehicles, have now found their way into a wide array of automobiles, from sleek SUVs to elegant sedans. These prominent panels are typically located beneath the doors and along the vehicle’s sides. It serves a crucial purpose beyond its eye-catching design. They have become an essential accessory that caters to the diverse needs of drivers and passengers alike.

Running boards provide a convenient step, making it easier for occupants to climb into higher-set vehicles, particularly children, elderly individuals, or those with mobility challenges. Additionally, they can facilitate the loading and unloading of cargo on roof racks, enhancing the overall practicality of the vehicle.

While running boards come in various materials, steel, and aluminum are two of the most popular choices. But which one is better? So let’s see the comparison between them.

What are steel running boards?

Steel running boards have been a staple in the automotive industry for decades. It is known for its robustness and reliability. They are typically constructed using high-quality steel alloys that offer a balance between strength and malleability.

The most common types of steel used include stainless steel, mild steel, and galvanized steel. Each type of steel brings specific attributes to the running board, influencing its performance and appearance.

What is aluminum running boards?


Aluminum running boards have gained popularity in the industry for their unique set of characteristics. They offer a compelling alternative to traditional steel. They are crafted from high-grade aluminum alloys, which contribute to their distinct properties and appearance.

Are steel or aluminum running boards better?

Whether you choose steel or aluminum running boards, both of them have their own advantages. They both reflect your personal style and taste. If you are seeking not only practicality but also aesthetics in your vehicle, then you can visit for the best choices.

  • Performance

Load-bearing capacity is a critical factor for running boards, especially for larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs, which often carry heavy cargo or have more passengers. Steel running boards generally have higher load-bearing capacities compared to aluminum ones. This makes them a preferred choice for heavy-duty vehicles and off-road applications where robustness and durability are paramount.

On the other hand, aluminum running boards, while still capable of handling substantial weights, might have slightly lower load-bearing capacities. They are well-suited to smaller vehicles, crossovers, and sedans, where a lighter and more agile design complements the vehicle’s characteristics.

  • Weight 

One drawback of steel running boards is their weight, which can be significantly heavier compared to other materials like aluminum. While the added weight provides stability and sturdiness, it can slightly affect the vehicle’s overall performance, particularly in terms of fuel efficiency and handling.

Aluminum is inherently lightweight compared to steel, making aluminum running boards an attractive choice for those looking to minimize the additional weight added to their vehicles.

  • Gas mileage

The additional weight of steel running boards leads to a slight decrease in gas mileage, especially in smaller vehicles where every pound counts. However, the impact on performance is often negligible, and many drivers prioritize the ruggedness and load-bearing capacity that steel running boards offer.

One of the standout advantages of aluminum running boards is their lightweight nature. The reduced weight helps improve the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, as it requires less energy to move a lighter load. This can lead to cost savings over time, especially for drivers who cover long distances regularly.

Furthermore, the lighter weight of aluminum running boards can positively influence the vehicle’s handling and maneuverability, providing a smoother driving experience, particularly during turns and curves.

  • Aesthetic Appeal 

Steel running boards are often associated with a rugged and robust appearance, making them an ideal choice for trucks, SUVs, and off-road vehicles. The solid and substantial look of steel running boards complements the aggressive styling of these larger vehicles, adding a sense of durability and strength to their overall design.

Aluminum running boards, on the other hand, exude a sleek and modern aesthetic. Their lightweight design allows for more intricate and streamlined shapes, making them a popular choice for crossovers, sedans, and smaller SUVs. Aluminum running boards can seamlessly integrate into the vehicle’s profile, enhancing its aerodynamics and visual appeal.

  • Cost Considerations

Steel running boards generally fall on the more affordable end of the price spectrum compared to aluminum running boards. The lower cost of steel is primarily due to its abundance as a raw material and the simpler manufacturing processes involved. For budget-conscious vehicle owners, steel running boards offer a cost-effective option without compromising durability and functionality.

Aluminum running boards typically come with a higher price tag compared to steel running boards. The production of aluminum running boards often involves more intricate processes, such as precision cutting and shaping, contributing to the overall cost.

  • Longevity

Both steel and aluminum running boards are designed to withstand various environmental conditions and are expected to last for many years with proper maintenance. Steel running boards, known for their durability, can often have a longer lifespan than aluminum ones, especially under harsh conditions or heavy-duty use.

However, advancements in aluminum alloy technology have improved the durability of aluminum running boards, and their lightweight design can reduce wear on vehicle mounting points over time. In most cases, the lifespan of both types of running boards is more than adequate for the average vehicle ownership period.

  • Maintenance and Care

Steel running boards require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent rust and corrosion. Owners should clean them with mild soap and water regularly and consider applying wax or protective coatings to maintain their appearance and protect against environmental contaminants.

Aluminum running boards are naturally more resistant to rust, but regular cleaning is still essential to keep them in top condition. Mild soap and water are typically sufficient for cleaning aluminum running boards, and waxing can help preserve their finish.


The choice between steel and aluminum running boards involves various considerations. Steel running boards offer a lower initial cost and exceptional durability, making them ideal for heavy-duty applications. Aluminum running boards, with their lightweight design and corrosion resistance, provide improved fuel efficiency, and a modern aesthetic appeal. Both options have their unique benefits and are suitable for different vehicle types and personal preferences.

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