Step Bumper Buyer's Guide
- The step bumper usually has a cut-out under the license plate mount that serves as the step. It is typically made of steel.
- The types of step bumpers include regular, deep drop, and tubular.
- They can be chrome-plated, powder-coated, primed, painted.
- Consider your step bumper's max towing capacity before buying a replacement.
- OE replacement step bumpers typically cost around $53 to $1,960 depending on the quantity, configuration, and assembly.
- Removing and installing a step bumper on your own is easy if you have the right tools and know-how.
Rear bumpers come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Aside from completing the overall appeal of the vehicle, they serve as the frame’s first line of defense against frontal and rear-end impacts. One rear bumper type you can find across trucks, SUVs, and MPVs is the step bumper.
What is a step bumper?
There are different types of rear step bumpers. There are deep drop, standard or regular, roll pan, tube, and step. A step bumper usually features a cut-out under the license plate mount, which serves as its stepping platform. It is also referred to as a tow bumper because it has hitch ball holes for towing lightweight vehicles. It is considered to be the most common type of rear step bumper in larger vehicles.
Types of step bumpers
Regular step bumper
Regular step bumpers, or standard step bumpers, are the step bumpers that are installed on your truck/SUV/MPV even before leaving the dealership. Most vehicles have chrome-plated step bumpers while others have plastic or rubber trims attached to them.
Deep drop step bumpers
Deep drop is another classification of a truck bumper. However, that doesn’t stop drop bumper manufacturers from exploring new worlds. The incorporated deep drop rear bumpers with a step cutout, which also allows hitch balls to be installed on it. Deep drop step bumpers are more aggressive-looking and are utilized by lifted truck owners.
Tubular step bumpers
Like the deep drop, tube bumper is another type of off-road bumper. Tube bumpers got their names from the main components used in building them – steel or aluminum tubes. Since there are no rules in manufacturing, bumper makers combined the idea of tube and step bumpers, resulting to a neat, skeletal-looking step bumper.
What are the different finishes of an OE replacement step bumper?
It’s given that step bumpers, or bumpers in general, frontline your chassis from low-speed collisions. You may also change the way your vehicle looks by switching to an OE replacement rear bumper assembly. There are OEM stock bumpers that are chrome-plated from the factory, while some are body color-painted. Your vehicle’s look can be completed by your bumper choice.
Chrome-plated step bumpers are some of the most common rear bumper finishes. They offer a sleek and flashy exterior profile. If you’re planning on buying a chrome step bumper, clean it regularly because prolonged gunk on the surface could affect the quality of its shine.
Powder coating adds durability to the step bumper's material. This method features the application of resins and fine pigment particles by electrostatically spraying them on the surface. This manner then charges the particles and electrically grounds them on the metal. The result is a more scratch-, chip-, and fade-resistant bumper that needs less maintenance and cleaning. Powder-coated step bumpers come in black, gray, and silver.
Primed step bumpers are the best choice if you have custom body paint. This OE replacement part is coated with a primer and is ready to be painted with the final color. If you want a spotless paint job, hire a professional to do it for you. Doing so could save you time, as well as unnecessary expenses if you make a mistake.
Step bumpers come that in black, gray, and silver are painted step bumpers. They are the best options for car owners who have their vehicles in these body colors. Painted body colors are easy to maintain because you can treat it in the same manner as with the entire vehicle body. However, they are not as scratch-resistant as powder-coated OE replacements and shiny as chrome-plated ones.
Why is replacing your damaged step bumper important?
Damaged step bumpers don’t just look bad on your vehicle; driving with one puts you at risk of losing your trailer when you tow. Installing a fresh new step bumper also preserves your vehicle’s resale value.
What to consider when buying a step bumper
Be mindful of the step bumper's max towing capacity. You need to take note of how much your bumper can support. Tow ratings of aftermarket bumpers are usually stamped on the bumper itself. If it is not indicated, contact the bumper manufacturer and ask about the weight limitations of the step. Typically, OE replacement step bumpers can support towing heavier than a ton but some people recommend sticking to around a ton of tow limit, especially if you don’t know the actual limit.
If you’ve done your research, you’ll stumble upon many terms related to towing. Two of which are the tongue weight and trailer weight. Now, don’t mistake one over the other. Tongue weight is the downward force of the tongue of the trailer to the hitch at the back of your vehicle. Trailer weight or the gross trailer weight rating is the total maximum mass of the trailer that can be supported by your vehicle.
How much do step bumpers cost?
Given the different configurations of OE replacement step bumpers, prices vary. Parts that have pads included range from $330 to $1,960; those without pads but have a step provision are priced around $53 to $1,500; while you can find step bumpers without both at $280 to $1,020. Individual step bumpers are priced around $150 to $1,800 while kits are at around $350 to $1,500.
How to remove your step bumper
Planning on swapping your OE step bumper to an aftermarket one? Don’t let the idea of having to bring your car to the repair shop to replace your step bumper hold you back. Replacing your stock step bumper is easier than you think and you could do it in way less than an hour, right in your garage. All you need are the right tools like a socket set, a ratchet, pliers, plastic trim removal tool, among others. With all of these in your workstation, proceed to following these steps.
Step 1: Disconnect the electronics
Before you touch any hardware attaching your bumper on your vehicle frame, you must first remove the electrical wiring such as back-up sensor cables, license plate lights, and the trailer connector. Depending on what kind of cable you’re unplugging; you are required to either twist the connector counter-clockwise to set it loose or press a tab to disengage the harness.
Step 2: Unbolt all hardware and release all clips
The next thing you want to do is grab your ratchet, install the corresponding socket size, and unbolt all hardware that holds your bumper in place. Bolt sizes depend on the make of your truck, SUV, or MPV so you need to do an in-depth research, complete with your vehicle’s year model and trim. Once the bolts are already out, proceed by unclipping the plastic fasteners, which are the last things holding your bumper in position. Some vehicles have clips, while some don’t. Then, proceed to pulling your bumper away from the frame.
Step 3: Separate the bumper piece from the reinforcing bar
When your step bumper is completely detached from the frame, flip it over and continue unbolting more hardware. The goal is to separate the bumper from the reinforcing bar and hitch receiver so you could reuse it in attaching your bumper replacement. You also need to remove the trailer plug socket in the process.
After Step 3, you may start putting your new rear bumper by following the installation instructions that comes with it. Different bumper replacements require different processes of installation. The best tip is to contact the bumper manufacturer or follow the instruction handed by the maker closely. Steel bumpers might require added assistance so it would be a lot easier to have a friend with you, or a mechanical machine to suspend the bumper as you install it.
How to install your step bumper replacement
A step bumper is a wise investment for trucks or pickups designed for work. It's designed to supplement your vehicle's existing bumper-making it easier to for you to access your tools and equipment. Since this bumper isn't designed for absorbing impact from collisions, it's best to replace it when damaged.
In this guide, we have prepared the necessary tips, tools, and steps to help you accomplish this project.
Tools that You'll Need:
- Socket set
- Tape measure
- Washers and bolts
- Penetrating lubricant
- Spray undercoat
- Brackets and receiver brackets
- Replacement step bumper
- Always wear recommended safety equipment like closed-toe shoes, an industrial-grade dusk mask, safety goggles and gloves.
- Consult your vehicle's dealer or the manual for the correct step bumper model or make.
- Make sure that your work area is a flat, level surface.
- Locate your step bumper and inspect it for any damages.
Step 1: Use a penetrating lubricant to soak all the bolts and brackets supporting the step bumper. This will help loosen the bolts when removing them.
Step 2: After a few minutes, use a socket wrench to remove all the bolts and brackets. Carefully remove the step bumper and disconnect any wires attached to it. Set the old fasteners aside for later use.
Step 3: Install the gray cladding and black plastic treads before installing the replacement step bumpers.
Step 4: Spray a generous amount of undercoat to protect the new step bumper from rust
Step 5: Remove the bumper brackets and its wiring guides, from the vehicle's frame. Check the brackets before installing the hitch receiver. Position these brackets between the frame and bumper brackets; use bolts and washers to install the bumper brackets.
Step 6: Use a socket wrench to fasten your replacement bumper to the brackets. Apply the necessary torque to avoid any bolts losing its tread or grip.
Step 7: Attach all the guide wires and components that were removed to the new step bumper.
Step 8: Check the bumper for proper alignment and if the backing, license plate lights are working.
Installing a new step bumper will take about 45 minutes for an expert DIYer and around an hour for a beginner. It's a fun project to work on a lazy weekend afternoon.