Adding the Tubular Side Step Accessory to a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

(c) by Padgett
Orlando, February, 2012

It is interesting just how far off the ground my new Laredo V-6 with towing package is. It comes home when you realize the chrome side strip is the same height as the mid-door ding preventer on most cars and many roofs are below the window sill.

My frequent passenger is just a tad over 5 foot and has difficulty getting in and out so am adding the running board, err toe board, err tubular side steps in flat black. P/n 82212130. Says aluminum but sure feels plastic and not going to drill a hole to see if conductive.

One thing I expect is that with the sorta step (don't need a crampon but is close) is to ease the wear on the front seat since no longer have to fall out & hope foot reaches ground first. (Quite a difference from a Fiero - the car you wear - can open door and touch ground with hand. Without taking off the shoulder belt.).

Not saying the step is narrow, just that an old Harley kick starter is wider. Going to take some getting used to.

Instuctions are all pictograms and obviously from someone's concept of a GC, not reality though so far all of the bolt holes have lined up.

Now being honest, I did not exactly follow the instructions. The first step after identifying all of the parts (I'd add threadlocker blue to the parts list) is to remove the lower black plastic valence. This requires removal of the plastic lock studs and shows a hand with a screwdriver doing so. Nyet tovarich.

Leave us just say that after breaking one forked pry bar on the first insert I decided to see if the rail could be attached without removing the valence. The alternative was to break out a pickle fork but did not want to apply that much pressure. I suggest that anyone needing to remove the valence, just drill out the center of the inserts, new ones are part of the kit (nice thing about a factory kit is that everything needed is there and fits (don't forget the thread locker).

Now my tool kit include quite a few 13 and 10mm wrenches and sockets on a multitude of gears and offsets, I wound up using six different ones. You are not going to tighten the center bolt (13mm wrench) with a pair of pliers. No way no how. Can be done easily if you have an offset 13mm flare wrench or crows foot

Also do not tighten everything completely until rail is bolted to the brackets, makes it much easier to align.

BTW it is a really good idea to make sure the nuts, particularly the big ones for the studs, spin easily up and down the shaft. Will be a royal pain to install blind if they don't.

Speaking of the center bolt. It is really a stud offset on a rectangular plate. After you remove the rubber plug in the side channel it can be slid inside. The stud has a shoulder to lock in the bracket and an arrow pointing at the long end, you want the long end to point out to minimise the stress on the channel when you stand on the step. Repeat: make sure the arrow points out. Note that I marked the end with some magic marker, made seeing the pointer from 3" away much easier.

Another point here, when you remove the rubber plugs, you unseal the channel. Might be a good idea to apply a bead of silicon seal around the opening and before bolting the bracket in place to seal the opening.

One thing I noticed while under there is that while the body was primed, it must have been spray painted rather than dipped because there are a lot of places underneath where you can see the primer and I could see surface rust in a few places such as the half shafts.

Now I live in a place where rust has to come from somewhere else but this means that my new car needs some time spent underneath with rustolium. Keep in mind that I have been known to buy a car and keep it for a couple of decades. Have sold more than one with pictures of a rust free chassis. Meanwhile back at the siderails.

Rails were not a real big job, took me about two hours with the first hour spent deciding not to remove the inserts and making sure all nuts spun on smoothly. Made the stud nuts a lot easier to spin on without shifting the insert.

Am glad I didn't get the chrome option since I tend more to the dechroming school (prefer the natural aluminum wheels). The minimal accents (thinking about the 1TY96JRPAD body colored grill but the $676.80 price tag is a bit much for some plastic) set it off nicely though. Also like the black dash & door inserts a lot better than plastic wood. Think the rails are unobtrusive and effective.

All contents copyright (c) Padgett, 2012, except where noted.