SSO Rock Sliders Install Overview and Review – 5th Gen 4Runner

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

Southern Style Offroad (SSO) Rock Sliders Install Overview and Review – 5th Gen 4Runner

In this article, I will walk you through the installation of the Southern Style Offroad (SSO) rock sliders and provide my initial overview.

For many people, rock sliders may seem no different than running boards. Quite a few 4Runners come out of the factory with running boards of some sort; however, none that I am aware of come with true rock sliders (or have the option to add on rock sliders).

So, you might be wondering, “what is the difference between rock sliders and running boards?”. Essentially, it boils down to strength.

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Running Boards vs. Rock Sliders

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

Running boards are most commonly mounted to the body of a 4Runner and are adequate for one person (maybe two, if you dare to risk) to stand on and get in and out of a vehicle. They are great for aiding access to items you might have on your roof rack. I have used running boards my entire life (until installing rock sliders), and they work great for general usage.

The problem is they will not provide too much protection for you off road. If you were to slide into a boulder, more than likely the running boards would crunch and you would have damage to deal with…potentially on the body of your 4Runner. This can be expensive and a pain to fix.

What About Rock Sliders?

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

Rock sliders, on the other hand, are much more durable and can take a beating. Instead of mounting to the body, rock sliders mount to the frame – much more strength as a result. In addition, rock sliders, such as the one from SSO, are typically made of much higher quality materials of substantial strength, such as steel.

Rock sliders provide a location for a hi-lift jack to lift up one side of your vehicle. If you slide into a rock, the rock sliders will protect you (hence the name). They can still be used to get in and out of your car. Last, they can add a bit of style.

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

The only real downside is they weigh substantially more than running boards. We will discuss this a bit further in the article.

All things considered, I wanted rock sliders so that I had a little extra insurance if the “what if” should happen and to add just a little style.

Due to the high-quality build and fabrication work from SSO on my Slimline front bumper, I decided to utilize SSO for rock sliders too.

The SSO Rock Sliders for 5th Gen 4Runner

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

As I previously mentioned, I currently have the SSO Slimline front bumper installed on my 4Runner. I think the quality and aesthetic appeal of this bumper is superb…and the sliders from SSO are excellent as well.

3/16” wall thickness square tubing, 0.120” wall thickness round tubing, and 3/16” thick steel plate compose the SSO sliders. The sliders can be shipped as bare metal or powder coated, of which I chose to have SSO powder coat them for me. You really could paint, Rhino Line, or powder coat these rock sliders, but I would suggest powder coating.

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

These sliders are compatible with both KDSS and non-KDSS 4Runners, offer step up areas for getting in or out of your car, in addition to aiding in access to your roof rack.

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

Each slider weighs in at 56 lbs and bolts to your 4Runner’s chassis with 12 supplied bolts. Yes, these sliders and all sliders on the market are heavier than factory side steps. However, you are gaining multiple times more strength and protection.

The welds, powder coat, and overall design on these sliders are very good. I think they look awesome and were a nice upgrade.

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

As for installing them…it couldn’t be easier! Just 12 bolts for each slider. I will say that two people are pretty much a must for this project, as it is very difficult to hold the weight of the sliders and bolt them onto the chassis all by yourself (although doable). If you happen to have existing side steps or other rock sliders you will need to remove them first, but then you just bolt these on, and away you go!

Overall Review

Gas Mileage

Something that did concern me a bit with adding sliders was weight. For some, this isn’t an issue, but for others, it may be. I was curious to see how much the additional weight impacted my gas mileage as well as acceleration.

I am happy to say that I actually haven’t noticed a difference! I know it of course has dampened my gas mileage and acceleration some since I did add more weight, it just isn’t noticeable.

This is really good because you get the benefits of having super beefy rock sliders without too much impact on fuel economy.


SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

Most of you who have read previous articles of mine know that I use my 4Runner, but it is my daily driver so I take care of my vehicle as much as possible. This said, I can’t say I have actually tested the rock sliders on rocks, but I have taken them off-road several times.

No boulders were present, but the sliders were ready for action if needed.

I think that is what I like about these sliders so much. They are there when you need them, but due to their sleek design, they aren’t bulging out when you are driving to work or the grocery store.

One thing I noticed about these sliders is they don’t stick out as far as the tubular, factory side steps from Toyota that my 4Runner came with.

I used to run into issues of having my dress pants for work always getting a little dirty on the pant legs from when I would get out of my car and my leg would rub against the factory side steps. I don’t have this issue anymore.

These sliders seem to be a great product overall and I am very glad to have them!

Final Thoughts

SSO Rock Sliders Step-By-Step Install and Review - 5th Gen 4Runner

These sliders are awesome! They tie-in very well with my Slimline bumper and overall add just a little more protection and capability to my 4Runner. I’ve seen quite a few sliders that are impressive, and these from SSO are definitely a top contender.

I tried to think if there would be anything that I would change if I could, because being an engineer I am always looking to improve things. However, I couldn’t think of anything that I’d do differently.

The SSO rock sliders are sleek, strong, look good, provide good traction when you step on them to get in and out of the vehicle and are very high quality overall.

If you are on the market for some sliders, you should really look at these SSO sliders. They are an awesome choice, especially if you already have the SSO Slimline front bumper!

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11 months ago

I just finished installing a set of these. SSO has changed their sliders some. The supports that weld to the mounting plates are now square tube with gussets instead of bent plate as in the article photos. They are also universal; same unit for KDSS and non KDSS. As Vlad said, they do not supply any instructions. Not a problem with the non KDSS version, but the KDSS models present some issues. First, the mounting plates have to slide up between the frame and the KDSS lines. This requires prying the lines away from the frame while jacking it up. The mounting tabs for the brake lines (both sides) have a tendency to want to get pinched under the rear plate. Be careful with this. The front driver side plate has a kickout to clear the KDSS lines where they wrap around the frame. There is a bolt hole between the two lines and they include a spacer to take up the gap. Problem is, it is too big around to fit between the lines and the lines are too stiff and too close to the control block to bend apart. I wound up grinding flat spots on the spacer so that it would fit between the lines. It still makes contact, so I’m going to keep an eye on it to make sure there’s no rubbing. The bracket at the rear of the KDSS lines is supposed to bolt back through the mounting plate into the frame. Unfortunately, the lines wind up sitting on top of the slider brace and the holes won’t line up so I left this bolt out. The slider seems solid enough so I’m not too worried. Finally, the skid plate that covers the KDSS lines where they wrap around the front of the frame has to be trimmed by about 1/2″ to clear the kickout in the slider plate. Again, these issues are only with the KDSS units. The non KDSS should be a piece of cake. This comment isn’t meant to scare anyone away as the the build quality seems excellent (although the 4 month lead time seemed a little excessive). Just a heads up for you fellow KDSS guys.

Vlad D
Vlad D
2 years ago

i have these too. The construction is good. They’ve held up the weight of the vehicle on the rocks, from a hi lift, and the kick out was used to make tight turns. The plate on top of the sliders is very comfortable as a step to get into rear seats, so wife likes it.

A few negatives:

  • one slider sticks out upfront further than the other one and rubs on the plastic trim on the body. The other one was also rubbing on the plastic rocker panel cover creating awful creaking noise while driving
  • bolts rust easily. Mine are about a year old and there’s already surface rust
  • bolts are flanged but have no washers. Some say that this makes them hold tighter, but still.
  • For KDSS sliders, the left slider interferes with KDSS wire skid plate. Had to bend it slightly to fit, but it still rubs. I have a ton of rock markings on that skid plate so I wouldn’t remove it.
  • there are no instructions. It bit me because I ordered the KDSS model but got a regular one by mistake. I nearly disassembled the entire KDSS system trying to fit them in and thinking I was an idiot for failing. If there were instructions, I’d have known I got wrong ones before I spent days painting them and trying to put them on.
2 years ago

I own these, and I once drove into a deceptively large hole. The kick outs saved my passenger side fenders and panels. Just had to touch up the scratches on the sliders, but otherwise, they took no damage even with a lateral and a vertical force on them.

2 years ago

Look great. Not sure I like the open tube design. Can rust from the inside out.

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