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Old 04-24-2011, 04:37 PM   #1
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TJ Side Step Install

I recently purchased a very nice set of side steps on eBay. They were off a 97 TJ. My ride is an '03. Same model, so I assumed a similar fit...or didn't have any way to verify the fit. As it turns out, the holes on the back bracket of the side steps don't line up exactly with the holes in my frame. Close, but not exactly.

To make matters worse, and what has taken me 3 weeks of research, is that my frame doesn't have the threaded inserts (nutserts). I've been to every parts store and hardware store in town and when I tell them what I need (and show them a picture from a thread in this forum on installing nutserts) I get the blankest of blank stares. A trip to the Jeep dealership was useless. Nutserts they couldn't help me with, but did find that the OEM sidesteps for the 03 used something called an 'M-Bolt' that threaded through both holes to receive a washer a nut and secure the side steps. So it seemed I was searching down the wrong path. But, alas, they have none, don't sell them any longer, don't know where I can get some, and were unhelpful with suggestions on where to find them. I tried hardware stores, but nothing is the right fit. Seems that short of trolling the local repair shops for spare 'M-Bolts' laying around, I'm out of luck.

I just attempted drilling through the frame completely...bought glavanized bolts, lock washers and nuts, but found that the inside of the driver's side frame is lined with a row of fluid lines, securely fastened and not so flexible. So I could move them and get the bolt through, but then thing the lines would rub on the end of the bolt and nut and eventually cause a problem.

So two the holes don't line exactly up with my frame. If I have to drill holes anyway, I don't really care about drilling a new hole or two. Problem two, the fluid lines that are in the way.

Does anyone have some advice on how to get these attached to my Jeep?
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:46 PM   #2
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I don't know what local 'big' stores you have near you..... I googled nutserts and came up with a lot of info. It all depends on what you want.

I use nutserts and thinserts daily at work and get ours through local venders and MSC and Grainger.

VERY handy for a multitude of applications.

I'm going out on a limb here since I havent check under my TJ... I take it regular hardware ( Nuts, bolts and washers) will not cut it?

~Todd~ 2004 X 4.0 5 speed---SOLD
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:53 PM   #3
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No, regular nuts and washers won't work because the holes are only in the outside of the frame. They don't go through and the frame is enclosed so no way to get to the back of the bolt. that's why I was attempting to drill straight through, put a 4" bolt in and be done with it.

But I'm nervous to move those lines.

And since the holes don't line up anyway, I'm wondering if these just aren't the sidesteps for me. I will check Grainger for nutserts though. Maybe those plus drilling couple of new holes is the answer. Thanks.

Wish I knew how to weld...I'd put the stupid things on permanently.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:16 PM   #4
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Go to any local muffler shop they should be willing to weld them on for you. I had it done on my 01 sahara worked just fine
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:27 PM   #5
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I did the same thing for my 97 TJ. there are seven holes on each side of the Tj. I found some on e-bay under spare parts. They were gone when I went back for them. Then I went to a place called Fastenall... They sell all types of items for industry use.You want the 17/32 size. Also I think they are on e-bay again. And they are called rivetnuts.
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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I will take the steps off your hands and solve all your this does sound aggravating.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:15 PM   #7
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#1 They are not meant to fit your jeep.
#2 If you drill into those lines on the back of the frame you wont be happy.
#3 Get the proper steps...

Seriously, I'd strongly recommend getting the proper steps for your jeep. All the other stuff you've brought up will lead to frustration and swearing.

The bolts through the frame will crush the frame over time and the steps will begin to sag. There is no support inside the frame to keep it from pinching. The lines on the back of the frame sides are for brakes and fuel.

The welding option is great if you want to have those permanently. jmho

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Old 04-26-2011, 01:01 PM   #8
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06504397 is the Jeep PN for the nutserts

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