A sturdy step toolbox is a crucial accessory to have on a semi-truck. Truckers have an array of choices ranging from functional checker plate-finished steps to aesthetically pleasing mirror toolboxes. Now, having multiple options is great, but how do you know which of these should you get?
The best semi-truck step toolboxes should have durability, efficiency, and design versatility. A checkered plate-finished box is functional and practical as it prevents slips or falls, while a mirror-plated toolbox has a shiny finish that pairs well with modern semi-trucks.
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Not quite sure what type of step toolbox to use on your truck? In this article, I’ll explain what factors to consider when shopping for a semi-truck step toolbox, the benefits of having one on your vehicle, and where to buy the best, most cost-efficient options.
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What Factors To Consider When Getting Semi-Truck Step Toolboxes
The ideal step toolbox a semi-truck need varies on a case-by-case basis. A small, midsize truck used for short-distance transportation a few times every week has different requirements than those used for daily long-distance hauling. However, there are some general factors every trucker should consider. These include:
The first thing you should look for in a semi-truck step toolbox is durability. It has to be strong and sturdy enough to withstand the:
- Trucker’s Weight: It’s a given that your step toolbox must have the hinge and screw stability to support the trucker’s entire weight. If the toolbox shakes whenever the trucker steps on it, look for another option.
- Tool and Equipment Load: A wide, spacious step toolbox is great, but make sure it can support all the tools and equipment loaded into it. Ideally, the toolbox shouldn’t sag as long you stay within the weight limit.
- Daily Driving Wear and Tear: Your step toolbox will come in contact with random road bumps, stones, and potholes, so it has to be durable enough to take a hit from these without getting damaged. Ditch options that become loose and flimsy after hitting the sidewalk a few times.
- Harsh Weather Conditions: Your step toolbox should be resistant to harsh weather conditions. Ideally, you should go with options you submerge in floodwater, expose to harsh sunlight, and pelt with hail without taking damage.
There are two factors two consider when deciding on the size of your step toolbox. First, check the size of your vehicle. Large toolboxes can hold multiple tools and equipment, but if you’re driving a relatively smaller type of truck, you can’t attach this toolbox to the vehicle’s body. The steps have to be within the truck’s ground clearance.
Of course, you also can’t use step toolboxes that are too small. The attachment has to be tall enough to provide the boost you need to comfortably scale the height difference between the ground and the driver’s seat.
Second, determine what tools you need to carry. If you want to keep your truck cabin clear so you can freely load it with all kinds of goods and products, I suggest getting a large toolbox that can safely carry various tools such as the following:
- spare truck battery
- jumper cables
- bungee cords
- screwdrivers and wrenches
- spare radiator coolant or water
- emergency engine, transmission, or brake oil
- tire pressure gauge
- greaser or lubricant (WD-40)
Just because you drive a heavy-duty truck doesn’t mean you can forego aesthetics. You need to pick a semi-truck step toolbox that complements the overall design and vibe your truck gives off.
Don’t just use some random step board. The last thing you’d want is to have a terrible-looking, ratchet compartment shaking up and down the side of your truck as you’re driving.
Truckers generally get to choose between a checkered-plated step board and a mirror-plated one. The former doesn’t look as neat as a mirror-plated board, but it’s very safe and practical. The extra ridges and star-shaped creases on the surface prevent the board from becoming slippery when—this is very beneficial for when it’s raining.
Meanwhile, a mirror-plated step board looks far better than a checkered-finished one. It has a deep, shiny, and elegant appeal that makes any semi-truck look pricier and more high-quality than it really is. The only issue here is it’s not as safe to use when wet. Mirror-plated steps can be very slippery if you’re not wearing your non-slip work boots or shoes.
As for the color, most semi-truck step toolboxes come in standard silver color. There are rare options in black, but they don’t look that much better than silver step boards do. Considering that black-plated boards are more expensive, they don’t seem like a good option.
Are you looking for something unique for your semi-truck? Work with a manufacturer that allows clients to customize their semi-truck step toolbox.
Here are some of the reasons why you might want to alter the overall make and design of your order:
- Safety: Notice how many truckers choose to jump off the driver’s seat rather than go through every single step of the step toolbox? Most step toolboxes have a limited top deck and steep step board. This design is hard to climb. To make boarding and alighting the truck easier, opt to incline the steps and broaden the top deck for better balance.
- Aesthetics: It’s not unusual to customize the design of your step toolbox. Many truckers have a customized design in mind that would complement their truck’s overall style and aesthetic.
- Loading Capacity: Free up space in your truck cabin by utilizing the loading capacity of your toolbox. A large, heavy-duty toolbox with a customized loading capacity is ideal for truckers who haul large items that need plenty of cabin space.
There are dozens of semi-truck step toolboxes available on the market. Having the freedom to choose from a wide array of choices can be exciting, but the experience can also feel intimidating for first-time truckers. To make things easier, I’ve narrowed down your options to the top three best, most reliable step toolboxes to use on your semi-truck.
Best Overall: TBOZZ Aluminum Semi-Truck Side Storage Step Box
The TBOZZ Aluminum Semi-Truck Side Storage Step Box tops the list for its durability, versatility, and overall cost-efficiency. It’s perfect for those looking for a well-rounded option. TBOZZ’s toolbox can carry multiple tools and equipment, the latch remains closed on long, bumpy rides, and the step board consists of durable, high-quality aluminum.
Truckers shouldn’t have issues installing the toolbox since it has a universal, versatile design. It measures 18” x 25” x 28” and matches the saddle dimensions of most major truck brands such as Peterbilt, MACK trucks, Hino Motors, and Isuzu Motors. The toolbox should fit your semi-truck as long as you have around 20 inches of space between the spring hanger and exhaust bracket.
Plus, the toolbox weighs less than 32 pounds or 15 kilograms. That means it shouldn’t take more than one or two people to lift and attach the step toolbox onto a semi-truck.
Features and Selling Points
The toolbox’s aluminum diamond plate finishing provides an array of benefits, including:
Some truckers stray from using step toolboxes because heavy options cause the truck to consume more gas. On average, semi-trucks consume one gallon of fuel every 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers per 3.8 liters). If you have a heavy toolbox, expect the rate to drop by a mile or two.
This fuel consumption change might not matter on one short trip, but if you regularly haul heavy goods and cargo on long distances, the extra fuel burned will add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, the TBOZZ step toolbox weighs less than 32 pounds or 15 kilograms, so truckers won’t have to worry too much about the extra fuel needed to carry a step board. It’s the lightest option on my list.
How do you tell if a step toolbox is cheap? If it easily corrodes. The cheapest step toolboxes show signs of rusting and deterioration after just a few months on the road. Considering that the toolbox regularly faces harsh weather conditions such as extreme sunlight and heavy rains, it’s understandable for corrosion to appear on cheap metal.
However, the TBOZZ step box is different. It has aluminum plate finishing that’s resistant to daily wear-and-tear damages such as corrosion. You can rely on this step box for many years to come.
Safety and Security
The TBOZZ step toolbox comes equipped with a custom dual-lock T-handle latch. It keeps the doors sealed shut, and truckers can only access the inside if they have the key that comes with it. No matter how rough or bumpy the ride gets, you can count on the door to stay shut.
Likewise, crooks won’t be able to open it from the outside—not even if they use a thick crowbar to force the lid open.
Ideal for Peterbilt Semi-Trucks: TBOZZ Aluminum 31-Inch Step Toolbox
Peterbilt is one of the most popular truck manufacturers in the country. The Peterbilt factory in Denton, Texas, produces more than 150 full-sized trucks every day. That’s why there are hundreds of thousands of Peterbilt trucks on the road today.
If you’re a solid Peterbilt truck fan as well, then you should check out the TBOZZ Aluminum-Plated 31-Inch Step Toolbox. It’s a specialized cab entry box customized to match the dimensions of the Peterbilt truck variants 378, 379, and 389—all of which are popular semi-trucks models.
It’s a relatively large step toolbox at 32” x 31” x 20” you with very wide trunk space. You can use it to carry around a wide range of tools, from small wrenches to large hydraulic floor jacks. Plus, the wider top deck allows better maneuverability for larger truckers. Tall, heavy truckers might find it hard to climb up and down smaller step boards with compact steps,
Features and Selling Points
Here are some of the features that make TBOZZ’s Aluminum-Plated 31-Inch Step Toolbox one of the best step board compartments for semi-trucks:
Specialized Peterbilt Compatibility
There are plenty of step boards you can attach to Peterbilt trucks. As I mentioned, Peterbilt is one of the country’s largest truck brands, so it’s only natural for truck accessory manufacturers to create products compatible with their truck line.
However, not many options are the perfect fit. Seasoned truckers know that some step boards end up either too small or large to fill the gap between the spring hanger and exhaust bracket—this would cause instability.
During the first few trips, using an incompatible step board might not affect your drive too much. However, the instability worsens over time and even becomes a driving hazard later on. Trust me when I say that you wouldn’t want the step crashing down while you’re on top of it, or worse, while you’re driving on an express with thousands of speeding cars.
Durability and Security
The TBOZZ’s 31-inch step toolbox comes finished with a durable, anti-corrosion aluminum plate that’s resistant to harsh weather conditions, including rain, strong sunlight, hail, and floodwater. You can use these step boards for years without seeing even the slightest signs of corrosion.
Plus, maintenance is very easy. Apart from the routine cleaning, you won’t have to do much to maintain the step board’s overall functionality and quality. Just remember to grease the hinges every now and then.
For security, truckers won’t have to worry because the step board comes with a .100-inch diamond-threaded door that’s .125 inches thick and comes reinforced with tough, heavy-duty corners resistant to bumps, dents, and other daily wear and tear damages.
Peterbilt trucks are big, so they require proportionally large truckers capable of steering the vehicle with ease. Conversely, a big trucker would require an equally large step board. If you’ve ever had trouble with small boards that are hard to scale or move around in, try this 31-inch step toolbox by TBOZZ. It’s not the largest step toolbox on the market, but it provides enough space and leeway.
Largest Heavy-Duty Option: Buyers Products Diamond-Threaded Storage Step Box
For long-distance truckers that drive medium to large trucks and regularly haul heavy goods and cargo for hours on end, try the Diamond-Threaded Storage Step Box by Buyers Products. It’s a large, heavy-duty box that weighs a whopping 66 pounds or 30 kilograms. The dimensions are at 28” x 30” x 24”—the largest on this list.
Features and Selling Points
Truckers won’t regret looking into Buyers Products’ Diamond-Threaded Storage Step Box because of the following factors:
Durability and Resistance To Wear and Tear Damages
125-grade aluminum plates are already durable on their own, but adding a 100 diamond-threaded plate on top of it further improves its resistance to daily wear and tear damages such as rust, corrosion, and dents. You can confidently expose these steel boxes to harsh weather conditions.
This toolbox’s latch also comes equipped with a D-bulb seal. It’s a tough, industrial-grade lock that’s sure to keep the compartment’s heavy latch sealed throughout the trip, no matter how rough or bumpy the road might get.
Plus, you cannot open the latch without the proper key. Even if one were to pry open the door with a hammer or crowbar, the hinges and locks still wouldn’t budge.
A common issue with large compartments is their stability. There are plenty of cheap, low-quality toolboxes that weaken over time due to stress—large compartments filled with multiple tools are quite heavy.
Fortunately, the Buyers Products step toolbox has steel mounting brackets to reinforce the body, so it doesn’t matter if you fill this 66-pound compartment with heavy trucking tools and equipment. The bars reduce the possibility of stress cracks due to daily abuse.
If you feel that the extra mounting brackets do not provide enough support, you can rely on the door’s corner gussets as well. These gussets further reduce the load hanging on the brackets.
Although, the brackets can easily support the combined weight of the compartment and its contents inside. So in the highly unlikely event that the gussets crack under pressure, the steel brackets will keep the compartment attached to the semi-truck.
All the step boards on this list are guaranteed to be tough and durable, but Buyers Products’ toolboxes are on another level. The company is an established, reputable trucking equipment and accessories manufacturer that has been in business since 1946. They are a leading brand in the industry known to provide quality products built for heavy-duty hauling and driving.
Having a step toolbox to store various tools/equipment and step on for a quick boost when climbing your semi-truck is both practical and functional.
The only problem is that some don’t know how to select the best toolbox for their vehicle. Fortunately, truckers can use this as a guide when shopping for a step toolbox to attach to their semi-truck.
Feel free to explore other options as well. Overall, the goal is to find a durable, heavy-duty step toolbox built to withstand harsh weather conditions, long rides, and daily wear and tear damages.
- American Association of Owner Operators: 35 Tools That Make the Ultimate Trucker Tool Kit
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- Auto Accessories Garage: Top 10 Best Truck Tool Boxes: Top Rated Pickup Truck Bed Tool Boxes (Reviews)
- Biz Journals: Take a look inside the Peterbilt plant in Denton, where it makes more than 150 trucks a day
- RTS: How to Calculate the Fuel Cost Per Mile of Your Trucks
- Buyers Products: The Buyers Story