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Functional Utility Hinge-Mounted Side Step

Posted in Product Reviews on January 15, 2014 Comment (0)
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Functional Utility Hinge-Mounted Side Step

Despite what many people think, we here at Jp actually like trying new things. And we also like getting the word out about new products from a company you may or may not heard of before. It's even better when the product appeals to our somewhat juvenile sense of humor. That's why when we saw these hinge-mounted steps from Functional Utility with a big old FU cast right into the top of them, we were interested enough to order a set.

The steps are available for either '76-'06 CJ and Wrangler (FU-01) or for '07-up JK (FU-02). They are cast out of aircraft-grade aluminum, powdercoated, and hand-finished—all right here in the USA. The company designed them with a curved shape that holds tight to the body and doesn't extend past fender flares to minimize or eliminate how much they will grab trees and whatnot when off-road. For the JK, the step folds up flat to the door when not in use. Also, the hardware has an armor coating that provides a minimum of 1,000 hours of salt spray resistance with Grade 8 hardness.

The company is proud of how bolt-on the steps are, but we know as well as you guys how that often works out. Also, we had been eyeing a set of the lower door hinge drop-in footrests for a while and got to wondering if we could kill two birds with one stone and support a USA-based company at the same time. So we ordered up a set of FU-01 steps and put them on our '94 Wrangler.

We sprayed the bolts on the inside with some penetrating lubricant and whacked the T-40 Torx bit with a hammer in an effort to break them loose. We should have started spraying earlier, though, as we still had one bolt of four that stripped despite pushing hard on the 3⁄8-inch-drive ratchet. Once we got the belligerent bolt out, installation was a breeze. The holes lined up, the included bolts threaded in fine, and generally everything went as the instructions said they should. We sprayed the bolts on the inside with some penetrating lubricant and whacked the T-40 Torx bit with a hammer in an effort to break them loose. We should have started spraying earlier, though, as we still had one bolt of four that stripped despite pushing hard on the 3⁄8-inch-drive ratchet. Once we got the belligerent bolt out, installation was a breeze. The holes lined up, the included bolts threaded in fine, and generally everything went as the instructions said they should.
We say generally, because we did have to drill a 3⁄8-inch hole in the passenger-side step for the radio antenna. We’ve seen a lot of YJs and CJs with the radio antenna in this general location, but some are further forward, some are higher up on the body, and we haven’t figured out the rhyme or reason to where the antennas are… we just ended up unlucky. For TJs, the antenna is further forward and higher on all the ones we’ve ever paid attention to, so you TJ guys should be good to go. We say generally, because we did have to drill a 3⁄8-inch hole in the passenger-side step for the radio antenna. We’ve seen a lot of YJs and CJs with the radio antenna in this general location, but some are further forward, some are higher up on the body, and we haven’t figured out the rhyme or reason to where the antennas are… we just ended up unlucky. For TJs, the antenna is further forward and higher on all the ones we’ve ever paid attention to, so you TJ guys should be good to go.
The kit is incredibly complete, from well written instructions all the way to a hex bit socket to put the included bolts in with. The instructions feature actual words rather than stick figures and actual photos rather than some crude drawing. The steps are padded where they touch your paint, which both protects your paint and provides a seal to the Jeep. The kit is incredibly complete, from well written instructions all the way to a hex bit socket to put the included bolts in with. The instructions feature actual words rather than stick figures and actual photos rather than some crude drawing. The steps are padded where they touch your paint, which both protects your paint and provides a seal to the Jeep.
functional utility hinge mounted side step

Results
After some usage, we've decided we like the steps just fine. They don't whistle on the highway, and they are stout enough to hold up even a 250-pound guy. They make getting to the top of the Jeep way easier and for some taller Jeeps might be deemed necessary. They are a bit too high to use as a footrest while seated in the Jeep, and the curved shape makes them a bit difficult to rest our foot on anyway. If you like opening your doors way past 90 degrees, you will be out of luck; but they don't interfere with pulling doors off or putting them on, even if you have to swing the door back and forth to do so. They might be superfluous if you have rocker guards with steps. If you grind the side of your Jeep into rocks a lot, these might not be for you. We aren't worried about the steps holding up, that cast aluminum seems real solid, but rather the sheetmetal they are bolted to- the tub will probably bend before the step gives way. For the JK guys, with that fold-up feature that's not a problem. And while are giving a big old FU to people around camp, the steps can double as a shelf which makes them really convenient for beverages.

Sources

Functional Utility
703-595-3130
http://www.functionalutility.com

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