AMP Research Power Step Running Boards Review
When someone with AMP Research contacted us a few months ago and offered up a free set of their power step running boards, we passed. We didn’t have a donor vehicle lined up, and we felt like this particular part might be a little extravagant for the average Tundra owner. Unfortunately, we missed out on a good opportunity. When we realized that these power step bars have a very utilitarian purpose – helping passengers step-in to a lifted truck while also maintaining ground clearance – we had to pay AMP for a set of their power step boards for review. We didn’t pay full price – AMP helped us out – but next time we get offered a free part for review, we’ll say “yes” without hesitation.
AMP Research has an interesting story. The company was founded by Horst Leitner, an accomplished motorcycle racer and the inventor of the Horst link suspension. The Horst link suspension revolutionized mountain biking, and gave Leitner the funds and credibility to start AMP Research. Today, AMP Research provides a variety of components to many auto manufacturers.
On the left, the kit in the box. On the right, all the major pieces laid out.
The AMP Research power step running boards are just what we would expect from an Austrian engineer. The components are precisely machined, robust, elegant, and simple. The running boards in the kit are especially impressive – very lightweight, but also very strong. The top surface of the running boards is textured so your feet won’t accidentally slip when you get in and out, and AMP says their running boards can support as much as 600lbs (that’s on each side). Considering just how lightweight the running boards are, that’s an accomplishment.
The super strong and lightweight running boards are impressive (left), and the wiring harness (right) is OEM quality.
The kit isn’t terribly complex – you get two boards, two motors, four hinges, a wiring harness, and some miscellaneous parts to put it all together. If we had to choose something to complain about, it would be the fact that the hinges are the same for both sides of the truck. It’s not a functional issue, but it seems sort of weird that the hinges and motors aren’t symmetrical. Because the hinges are the same, on one side of the truck the motor faces forward, on the other it faces backward. It’s probably not something you would notice unless you were installing the kit, so it’s definitely a minor point.
Installation is simple – until it’s time to wire everything. Bolting on the hinges and running boards will take you just a few minutes, but mounting the controller and snaking the wiring harness down each side of the motor will take you time. Having a helper will make your life a little easier, but part of the problem is that you have to crawl up on top of the engine to get everything placed (at least if your truck is lifted). Ryan (who was working on his own truck), ran the harness across the engine compartment and then secured it to the brake lines.
The hinge mechanism is lightweight and precisely machined. Note the foam pads inside the hinge that act as sound and shock absorbers – they’re weather resistant and very tough.
Once you’ve got the wiring ran, you’ve still got to tap into the door position sensors. You’ll need to pull up the carpet, find the right grommets, run the wires into the cabin, pull up the door sills, and tap. Once you’ve got everything connected, you’ll witness the step boards operate. It’s not an exaggeration – you’ll say “cool” when you see the running boards lower and raise for the first time.
AMP’s commitment to quality is excellent – we definitely give this kit our seal of approval. Installation isn’t too difficult – if you’ve ever installed a car stereo, you can handle this kit. Just don’t look at the parts and expect it to take 15 minutes. Plan for at least an hour – probably two. The warranty on the kit is 3 years, just like a new vehicle.
In the “up” position, the boards are difficult to see and protected from rocks and other obstacles. If you didn’t know they were their, you probably wouldn’t notice them.
At first glance, the price of the kit is high (about $1200). However, when you think about how nice all the parts are, what the kit does, and who this kit is really for, it doesn’t seem so bad. After all, the whole point of having this kit is to make climbing in and out of lifted trucks easier without compromising your vehicle’s ground clearance or clean looks. If you don’t care about either one of these things, and you’re not looking for a cool “gee-whiz” feature, than this kit isn’t for you. Otherwise, check it out. It’s pretty cool.
Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories