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I posted something about this a while ago and got a little help. Now I have a more specific question. I have a 2001 Frontier SC 3.3 4x4 I just got a few months ago to use as a second vehicle with limited use (hauling lumber, etc). I happened across a pair of OEM step rails on craigslist which were really inexpensive and bought them even though I thought I would have the following problem: Nissan did not preinstall bolts on the rocker panel for the step rails. Despite a lot of research online, I haven't been able to find out how or even if step rails were to be installed on a 2001. I even emailed Nissan but they directed me to contact my dealer, which I haven't gotten around to. Anyway, I'd still like to install them because I particularly like the style of these rails and my use of the truck does not warrant spending much on modifications.

The only way to mount them is to drill holes in the rocker panel but of course, there's no way to get a nut behind the hole (or put the bolt through from the back). So here are my questions: can I make a access hole to allow me to feed the bolt through? Would this weaken the panel? There are already holes in the panel, so it isn't completely sealed.

I guess I implied that I had a single question so here it is: am I an idiot for considering this approach and spending the amount of time I have in trying to figure out how to install a pair of step rails I bought for well below$50?
 

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If the rocker panel wasnt constructed of sheetmetal, you could run a tap and die through it. Cutting an access hole will allow water and debris to get into the panel and rot it from the inside out.

See if you can buy some 5/16" thick angle iron that you can use to mount them. It will work like an L bracket with the vertical side mounting to the frame with grade 8 bolts goung through the frame rail. The horizontal section will bolt through the step rail and support it. This method will require a lot of drilled holes. Three supports per side adds upto 24 bolts.
 
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