As with most 4×4 aftermarket accessories, there is no shortage of options when fitting side steps or rock sliders to your vehicle. And the product you opt for, says Gary Swemmer, should depend on what you intend to do with your vehicle.
You should be careful when shopping around for side steps and rock sliders, since there are loads of different designs out there, and you should opt for something that suits your needs.
For example, if you will be doing a lot of overland travelling, and transporting items on a roof rack, you want proper side steps that allow you to reach for items on your roof without hassle. You need a broad set of steps with plenty of space for your feet and a flat surface that provides good traction. Grooved or ribbed metal always works well.
There are wonderful side steps available for this sort of application. Not only do they offer solid footing, but they also have recovery points and jacking points that can come in handy when you find yourself in a tricky situation. Some side steps can even double up as a water tank, but you need to speak to your fitment centre about this, since these sorts of steps are usually custom-built creations.
But what about the popular rock sliders? Well, these don’t work well as a platform when you are trying to get to items on your roof rack, since they don’t offer solid footing, but that doesn’t mean that rock sliders are useless. In fact, rock sliders are fantastic, and often an underrated addition to a 4×4. Why? Because they do a very good job of protecting your vehicle.
So, if you plan on doing some serious off-roading, a set of rock sliders is a good investment. As the name suggests, they protect the undercarriage of your vehicle by providing a hardy surface that a rock can slide along during hectic rock crawling, and the amount of protection they provide is substantial.
Regardless of whether you opt for traditional side steps or rock sliders, however, you need to pay close attention to where they are mounted on the chassis (and they should always be mounted straight to the chassis) since the mounting points will be placed under a lot of stress. If your side steps have jacking points or recovery points, the mounting points are even more important, since they will be placed under an enormous amount pressure during a recovery.
Be sure to visit a professional fitment centre with the knowledge needed to fit your new rock sliders or side steps properly.