The Pursuit Of Protection: Guarding Our Chevy Silverado

fender install

When lifting a truck it is sometimes overlooked on how to protect your paint and how to get in and out of the vehicle with it so high. Bestop PowerBoard NX running boards and Bushwacker Extend-A-Fender fender flares will help keep debris from hitting the side of our truck when out on the trails.

What’s better than no longer having to give up ground clearance and durability with a set of motorized running board that help you get in and out of your lifted truck? We installed them on our Chevrolet Silverado to show you how it’s done. We will also show how to install an EZ Fold Tonneau Cover from Bestop in less than 20 minutes.

Installing Bestop’s PowerBoard NX Running Boards
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Dealing with the wiring harness can be broken down into four basic steps: Test, route, support, and connect. Each of these steps can be further broken down into smaller steps.

Your Tool List

You don’t need many tools or years of experience to install the PowerBoard NX Automatic Retracting Running Board. The tools you don’t already own can usually be easily rented or borrowed from chain parts stores. The tools you will need are:

  • A ratchet
  • 10 mm socket
  • 13 mm socket
  • Extension for the sockets
  • 5 mm Allen wrench
  • 13 mm wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Power drill with 9/32-inch bit
  • Crimp tool
The wiring harness needs to be tested before you install it. Lay it out with the wiring fully extended as if installed. Hook up the motors, LEDs, receiver, and controller after removing the fuse. Hook the positive and negative leads up to the battery and lay the door sensors out with their magnets touching. Plugging the fuse in should cause the arms to retract. Move each of the magnets away from the sensor, wait a few seconds, and then move it back. We checked to make sure the motors extend and retract fully, and the LEDs light up.

The harness was then routed down the two sides of the truck. The short leg goes to the passenger side, while the long leg goes down the driver side. The 11-inch cable ties were used to secure the controller to the battery mount, and we used the seven-inch cable ties to support the harness around the engine bay and along the frame. The 17-inch cable ties were used to mount the receiver with the standoffs toward the frame and out of the way, but not boxed in by thick metal so the signals can get to the antenna.

Left: Laying the wiring harness out for pre-test. Right: Routing the long lead of the wiring harness down the driver side.

Replace the forward brake cable guide with the new guide from the kit. Press the brake cable ring into the hole in the rear of the middle body mount. Install the new parking brake cable guide into the existing hole in the frame using an M8-1.25 x 30 hex bolt and nylock nut.

The rear motor mount and linkage assembly in place.

The rear motor mount and linkage assembly in place.

Left: Wide shot showing the motor mounting location in relation to other landmarks under the truck. Center: The front idler linkage assembly is mounted in place. Right: The running boards are attached to the linkage arms.

We attached the motors to their linkage pieces making the running boards extend and retract properly. This was done by lining up the mounting bosses, using cap screws, and washers to secure the two pieces together

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Installing the front idler linkage on the passenger side.

The instructions that come with the kit show the linkage arms being attached to the underside of the truck using existing holes in the body support brackets and rocker panels. The motor is attached using the fourth hole in the sheetmetal from the front under the passenger compartment. Make sure the brake cable is re-routed if necessary to clear the motor. The idler linkage is installed in the first hole or tab from the front.

Finishing up installation of the passenger side idler linkage.

These locations may already have a nut welded in place. If so, use it. We didn’t need to, but you may have to use the small threaded clamping plate to attach the idler linkage. Both idler and motor linkage are attached using M8-1.25 X 30 hex bolts and washers. We left these bolts loose so we could adjust the linkages once everything was installed.

The wireless sensors send a signal for the motors to lower the running boards when a door opens. When the last door is closed, the sensors signal the motors to raise the running boards. They need to be mounted so that the smaller magnet is almost touching the sensor.

Mount the magnet on the rear of the front doors and the front of the rear doors so the magnet and sensor are no more than 1/6-inch apart with the door closed.

Mount the magnet on the rear of the front doors and the front of the rear doors so the magnet and sensor are no more than 1/6-inch apart when the doors are closed.

Bestop recommends three different locations (on crew and extended cab models) for the magnets and sensors. We chose the B-pillar to place the sensors, which puts them closer to the receiver.

Left: Front and rear sensors ready to install. Right: Passenger rear sensor installed.

The sensor itself is attached to the body using double-sided tape that is provided. We put the front sensor above the bottom hinge for the rear door and the rear sensor under the hinge.  Closing the front door and reaching through from behind allowed us to properly locate the magnet so it is almost touching the screw side of the sensor housing. Reversing this process with the front door open and the rear door closed allowed us to attach the magnets for the rear doors.

Left: Shim the linkage assemblies to help align the running boards. Center and Right: Cycle the boards up and down by opening and closing the doors in succession.

Open and close the doors and observe the motion and clearance of the boards. Use shims between the linkage mounting flanges and body to gain the desired clearance between the body and the running boards. Once the desired clearance is achieved, go around and tighten the board to linkage and linkage mounting bolts.

Bushwacker Extend-A-Fender Get Installed Next

Everything you need to install Bushwacker's Extend-a-Flare fender flare kit.

Everything you need to install Bushwacker’s Extend-a-Flare fender flare kit is included.

With our set of fenders we had them color matched to the truck which is something that Bushwacker does not offer. We first prepped the fenderwells for the flare kit installation. We removed the mud flaps from all four corners. The front flaps on the rear fenderwells have three screws and we reinstalled the inboard and vertical screws once the flaps were removed.

Mark the pilot holes with a crayon or felt pen as shown. The marks on the front fenders should be ten mm, while the rears should be 22 mm in from the edges. Drill the pilot holes using a 3/32-in bit.

Mark the pilot holes with a crayon or felt pen as shown. The marks on the front fenders should be ten mm, while the rears should be 22 mm in from the edges. Drill the pilot holes using a 3/32-inch bit.

We next placed the new flares into the wheel opening and loosely secured them with the screws at the bottom. We then pressed the flares firmly into position and marked the five screw holes on each with a pen. On the front  we measured in from the lip 10 mm and marked these locations. On the rear we measured in 22 mm from the lip and marked. We then drilled pilot holes with a 3/32 inch drill bit.

Use the drill to install the screws in an alternating pattern starting in the center and working out. Use a manual screwdriver to make sure they're tight.

Use the drill to install the screws in an alternating pattern starting in the center and working out. Use a manual screwdriver to make sure they’re tight.

Like torquing a wheel, we used an alternating pattern to install and tighten the five self-tapping screws per flare that are included with the kit. As we tightened the screws, we pushed the flare firmly against the trucks body. Lastly, we tightened the two screws at the bottom of each flare.

Tighten the hex-head bolts with a socket and ratchet.

Tighten the hex-head bolts with a socket and ratchet.

The front and rear Extend-A-Flare kits by Bushwacker installed.

Last, But Not Least, Bestop’s EZ Fold Tonneau Cover

Boom boom and it's installed. That quick and easy. The EZ Fold Tonneau Cover from Bestop can be installed by one person in 15 minutes.

The EZ Fold Tonneau Cover from Bestop can be installed by one person under one hour.

Far Left: The front passenger clamp shown ready to adjust. Left Center: Adjusting the clamp. Right Center: Closing the clamp. Far Right: The clamp closed, firmly securing the cover to the bed.

We placed the folded EZ Fold Tonneau Cover with the straps showing at the front of the bed and lined up the front rail of the cover with the truck’s front bed rail, centered between the sides. Next we unfolded the driver side clamp from the storage position and slid it to the outer rail on the driver side and clamped the cover to the bed rail by tightening the clamp. This was repeated on the passenger side.

Left: Unfolding the EZ Fold tonneau cover. The passenger rear locking clamp can be seen in the storage position. Center: The driver side clamps can all be seen in the locked position. Right. The tonneau fully installed.

With the tailgate lowered, we undid the straps and unfolded the cover to the end of the bed. The clamps were unlocked from their storage positions and slid outboard to the bed rails and tightened.

With everything finished up on the Silverado, it was ready to make the journey to 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, knowing the paint would look just as good as when we left. The truck not only looks great, but everything that we added is functional. What is your favorite part? Tell us in the comments below!

Article Sources

About the author

Mike Aguilar

Mike has been wrenching on cars since the early 1970s when he worked at his dad's auto repair shop. By the age of 14 Mike had built his first performance suspension, and by 16 he had built, and was racing cars in several sanctioned events in the San Francisco bay area.
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