What You Need To Know About Step-In Height

Measuring the step-in height of your vehicle is the easiest way to make an informed decision about adding step bars or running boards to your vehicle. It’s handy information that may answers some questions for you, and all you need is a tape measure.

What’s Step-In Height?

Some vehicles leave the factory with extremely high step-in heights, making them uncomfortable to get in and out of for many consumers. Image Credit: JeepWranglerForums

Step-in height is (generally speaking) the measurement from the ground to the bottom of your vehicle. You can find it by measuring from the ground to lowest point where a foot can be placed. If a vehicle has running boards or step bars, the measurement is from the top of the step bar or running board to the ground. Otherwise, step-in height is measured from the ground to the door sill.  

Step-in height varies greatly from one vehicle to the next. The lowest step-in heights can generally be found on new cars or crossover SUVs and can be as low is as 6”. The highest step-in heights can be found on off-road SUVs or trucks with off-road packages, and can be as much as 25”. 

When it comes to pickup trucks and SUVs, most will have a step-in height around 18 inches. This is for two reasons: 

  • Step-in height is most comfortable when it’s 2/3rds of a person’s step length
  • The average step length for a 5′ 10″ adult is about 28”; and two-thirds of 28” is a little over 18”

Of course, everyone’s step length is different. Step length is based on a person’s height and flexibility. Shorter adults or children can struggle with an 18″ step-in height while taller and younger adults might have no problem with a 25” step-in height.

Why Step-In Height Matters

Adding a set of boards to a vehicle – like these Westin Outlaw Running Boards – can reduce step-in height a couple of inches while still looking clean.

We suggest you take a moment to measure your vehicle’s step-in height and ask yourself how you feel about it. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer – everyone’s a little different. If you share your vehicle with the family or with other drivers, how might they feel about the step-in height? If you share a truck or SUV with others, odds are you’ve heard a complaint or two about the step-in height.

The accepted average of an 18″ step-in height is comfortable for someone who is 5′ 10″, but it is not comfortable for children or small stature adults. Measuring step-in height and considering other drivers or occupants is important, especially before making any modifications to your ride.

Modifications And Step-In Height

Drop-step bars – like these HDX Drop Nerf Step Bars – reduce step-in while also providing some protection off-road.

If you have a truck and are considering a lift or a tire size upgrade, you’re going to be increasing your step-in height. If you or your family members are already struggling with step-in height before the change, it’s only going to be a bigger issue afterward.

A 1″ – 3″ increase in step-in height might not seem like a big increase. However, raising step-in height from 18” to 21” is a 15% increase. When you pause to think about it, a 15% increase in step-in height is going to be noticeable!

How Power Running Boards Help

Pro-e Running Boards make getting in and out easier, but tuck up out of the way the rest of the time.

If you like the idea of running boards, but you’re not sure about the look, Westin can help. We’ve learned that many enthusiasts have concerns about the way that step bars and running boards look. Often Jeep and Bronco owners are concerned that bars or boards can reduce ground clearance. The best solution we’ve found are power running boards.

Westin’s Pro-e Power Running Boards, for example, automatically lower when the door is open and raise when the door is closed. When the doors are closed, the Pro-e boards hug tight up against the vehicle for maximum ground clearance. They also blend into the vehicle’s lines and keep the vehicle’s clean look.

With a set of Pro-e power running boards, you get the best of both worlds: A reduced step-in height when you need it, but no big changes in appearance and no loss of ground clearance.

Knowing Your Step-In Height Just Makes Sense

So ask yourself and others:

How comfortable are you getting in and out of your vehicle? How comfortable are your family members?

Odds are good that you’ll gain a lot of knowledge as a result of the conversation. If you have ground clearance or aesthetic concerns, Westin’s Pro-e power running boards look clean and don’t reduce ground clearance. They’re the perfect solution for reducing step-in height without changing your vehicle’s appearance or capability.

Image Credit: ETrailer

Westin Automotive has over 40 years of experience in designing high-quality aftermarket products. If you need help deciding between running boards, step bars, or power running boards, contact us and we’ll be glad to help. We have a wide range of quality products for your truck, Jeep, or SUV, and we stand by our products with a comprehensive warranty policy.

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