I bought these black Westin 25-0830 Signature Series Step Bars from Amazon for $205. Shipping was included. I saw these exact same bars listed as high as $395, so shop around.
Not the absolute cheapest brand, but Westin was the name that most consistently got mentioned during my research as being a high quality product. Look at the step bars on other trucks when driving around. Cheaper bars get a lot of rust, especially if the step pad was attached to a hole cut into the bar. Also, some of the step pads are hard plastic and too slippery, especially when wet. Westin bars are three inches in diameter. The black color is powdercoated and not just painted on. Westin's patent-pending step pad is mounted onto a recessed area in the bar rather than a cut-out hole. The step pad material is high quality.
Vendors do not standardize the terminology for the different cab models when ordering. For example, these step bars were listed on Amazon to fit Toyota Tacoma Extended Cab 1995-2003. I own a 2004, but I noticed the same model number was listed as fitting 2004's on other Web sites, so I went ahead and ordered them. Some vendors call these step "rails" instead of bars.
My factory window sticker called my truck an XTRACAB. Hardly any Web sites used this phrase. Usually Extended Cab was listed instead, as above. In general, the best way to order step bars is to go by year, 2WD or 4WD, and whether or not there are ANY type of rear seats. Then simply go by the number of doors instead of trying to differentiate among Extended, Xtra, Club, Access, Quad, Double cabs, etc.
My heart sank at first when I opened the box and read the instructions. The bars' instructions were listed for "1995-1999" years, pretty far off from my ' 04. I could not figure out the front mounting assembly at first so I thought I had the wrong bars. I had to wait until the weekend was over to phone Westin tech support. They were friendly and helpful. Westin assured me that these bars would fit my truck, despite the label on the instructions and my initial lack of comprehension about the front mount tab assembly.
Obligatory box shot ;c) There is a driver and passenger side bar, based only on the position of the plastic step pad which should go closer to the front of the truck.
I kept the plastic wrapping on the step bars for protection during the install.
Driver side step bar with mounting brackets attached to both ends. The front mounting bracket next to the arrow required a 5/16" Allen wrench.
I had a twenty piece Allen (hex key) wrench set from Sears but none were large enough to attach the front mounting bracket, so I had to make a trip to the hardware store. I went to a mom & pop hardware store and true to form, they sold me a loose 5/16" Allen wrench for seventy-five cents. For the money Westin charges, they should throw one in.
Westin tech support had to explain this concept to me on the phone. The front mount tab assembly goes thru the rectangular hole on the outside of the frame rail. This is the driver's side and the front of the truck is to the left.
Feel around inside the hole first before inserting the assembly as there were some metal parts in the way inside the frame rail. The instructions said to point the "long end facing the rear of the truck." This piece was a tight fit.
The plastic square retainer kept the assembly from falling inside the hollow boxed frame rail. I suppose the piece could be fished out with a magnet if it fell in. I certainly would not want that piece banging around inside my frame rail. The plastic square is surprisingly stiff and strong.
The arrow shows the orientation of the long arm of the front mount tab assembly after it was inserted behind the frame rail.
Behind the front mounting bracket, looking toward the front of truck. The top nut is on the front mount tab assembly, that was sticking out of the frame rail in the above pic. The bottom bolt is through the cross member.
The rear mounting bracket attached around the frame rail with these silver metal straps on three sides. The metal strap with the red square is parallel to the floor.
The rear mount was odd. The silver pieces did not sit flush against the black mounting channel.
Thread the bolt thru the nut next to the arrow last, and all the pieces will stay in place much easier during the install. Use an extra pair of hands or prop the step rail into place when mounting the rear of the step bar, otherwise you will be working one-handed while trying to get these silver straps to stay in place and tightening the bolts at the same time.
This may seem obvious, but do not pinch or trap the brake line under the silver metal straps, shown at the top of the above pic. There was an extra "offset rear mount bar" provided by Westin in case the mounting strap had to go around the brake line, instead of under it as shown.
I did the driver side step bar first, and it took me over an hour not counting the trip to the hardware store. The passenger side went on in less than twenty minutes because I was experienced.
The product finish seemed first rate. The fit was okay. There were some obvious compromises Westin made to get the kit to fit different trucks. I thought at first that the rear mount assembly did not look sturdy enough, but it felt solid as a rock when I jumped on it.
The instructions, besides not being labeled for my year of truck, were average at best. They required too much unecessary cross-checking between the main instructions, the parts list, and the diagram. Also, the parts list was not in numerical order. The instructions could use a rewrite by a competent technical writer.
I was surprised at how heavy the bars were. Their shipping weight was fifty pounds. I bought a four-cylinder truck for the gas mileage, so the extra weight did catch me a little off guard. Plus, I plan on buying a professionally installed spray-on bed liner, which will add even more weight. We'll see how my gas mileage does with my ScanGaugeII.
Step bar not showing up too well against black driveway :c(
Another thing I did not consider ahead of time was that the step bars use up a lot of ground clearance. Since my truck spends 99.9% of its time on pavement, I'm assuming that will be a non-issue. Although I generally am a fan of "form follows function," I do love the aggressive, finished look of the step bars. Oh yeah, they also make getting in and out of the truck easier.