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Old 05-09-2014, 07:58 AM   #1
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Removing Running Boards for Aero/MPG improvement?

We just picked up an '89 SMB that was taken in to SMB in 1992.

Had it up on the lift to give the frame and underside the once over. The frame was pronounced solid, just flaky surface rust. Time to clean it up and get it set up the way we want it.

We are selling our 19-20 MPG Toyota Previa (great car) and want to get our new rig as efficient as possible.

Has anyone taken off their running boards for aerodynamic improvements? They don't seem to be necessary to step into the vehicle, especially a low (too low -- I want to redo the springs eventually) 2WD.

Will I see any improvement in MPG? Do the running boards tend to help slow rust in the rockers and behind the front wheels?
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:31 AM   #2
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Re: Removing Running Boards for Aero/MPG improvement?

Looks like you will not see improvements in gas mileage. Also be ready for rust behind running boards. If you planning remove them then you need cover holes leftover from brackets. For best result spray bottom sides with line-x or rubber coat it.
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Old 05-09-2014, 09:59 AM   #3
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Re: Removing Running Boards for Aero/MPG improvement?

What style boards do you have? OEM, or the aftermarket fiberglass ones that are also fender flares?

In either event, I doubt you'll see any MPG improvement, as the air is behind the wheels. If anything, I would guess the fiberglass style might actually improve MPG slightly as they streamline the van.

If you have the fiberglass type, I'd definitely recommend pulling them off, if only because of rust issues, especially here on the East Coast. Talk to any body shop and they will tell you that they are big-time contributors to rust. My used van came with them and it was one of the first things I removed. Sold them on CL for around $80. I put OEM Ford running boards back on. These don't impact the fender wells at all and are less likely to trap gunk that will facilitate rust.
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Old 05-09-2014, 11:31 AM   #4
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Re: Removing Running Boards for Aero/MPG improvement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW
What style boards do you have?
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Old 05-09-2014, 05:32 PM   #5
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Re: Removing Running Boards for Aero/MPG improvement?

Minimizing the ground to body gap is done on commercial trucks to improve fuel economy (normally done in conjunction with a low front air dam). Removing your running boards may make it worse.
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Old 05-09-2014, 08:04 PM   #6
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Re: Removing Running Boards for Aero/MPG improvement?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quercus
....cut.....

Has anyone taken off their running boards for aerodynamic improvements? They don't seem to be necessary to step into the vehicle, especially a low (too low -- I want to redo the springs eventually) 2WD.
It's hard to say, and harder to measure accurately, so decision would have to be made based on educated guesses. Even if a van was tested with and without running boards I think normal variations in MPG would be higher. I'd personally take those off, but would expect much less than 1 MPG improvement so I wouldn't expect to see higher numbers.

What is very likely to hurt your van's MPG, though, is raising it with new/reworked springs. That will almost certainly increase air drag at higher speeds. More than running boards.
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Old 05-10-2014, 05:10 PM   #7
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Re: Removing Running Boards for Aero/MPG improvement?

I think you guys are right -- probably not going to see much of an improvement. They do kind of hug the ground -- I'm thinking that it's probably a wash. So they'll stay!
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