2007 Denali retractable running boards

After going round and round with the dealer over running boards that would get stuck in the out position, I learned that you need the following:

  1. A battery that is in tip top shape.
  2. A little Marvels Mystery Oil works wonders when applied liberally to the joints of the running boards mechanisms.

My question is, “Is anyone aware of some sort of routine maintenance for these things?” There is nothing in the Owners Manual and the Dealer sure doesn’t know. All they ever want to do is reprogram the controller and all that does is empty my wallet.

Well? Let’s look at this logically.

You’re asking a computer to operate something that’s exposed to the elements each time the door is opened and closed.

What can go wrong?


  1. ask the dealer’s parts window guy for a copy of the procedure to reprogram the compuer. That’ll save your wallet while you concentrate on diagnosing the problem.

  2. while you’re there, as him for an “exploded view” drawing of the retracting running board systems, as well as the wiring diagram and the schematic for same. Put on a troubled expression and tell him you’re going broke continually having the dealer reprogram it.

It’s a wild guess, as I don’t have access to the necessary documents, but there may be a limiting sensor that’s been corrupted by corrosion or environmental exposure and isn’t telling the control module the current position of the steps (that the steps are extended). It might even be an adjustable sensor that you’ll be able to just adjust until it’s working properly.

At least with the exploded view drawing, schematics and wiring diagrams you’ll have the necessary information to look for voltage at the retractor motors. That’ll tell you if the problem is mechanical or electrical.

I emphasize that I’m only guessing, but hopefully the guesses will either stimulate the thought process of someone who has worked on a similar problem or the documents will make the cause of the problem obvious.

One also has to wonder about the repeated application of body weight on those running boards and what effect it will have on the operating mechanisms.

An import dealer I used to work for would send a lot of his used cars back into the shop for service or add-ons. He dealt in a lot of used pickups and SUVs.
Now and then I would install a set of permanently affixed running boards on one of his sleds.

I remember the laughable part was that in the directions I would run across the following:
WARNING! Do not exceed 150 pounds…


WARNING! For appearance purposes only. Do NOT use for entering and exiting the vehicle.

Eight years of water, mud, and road salt can screw up a lot of things underneath.

Just retract them and unplug their power.

In rural New England we were told by the local welding shop guy that we should capture our drain oil, put it in a pump-up orchard sprayer, and spray it liberally all over under the car or truck everywhere you could reach. Environmentally this is now a no-no, of course, with oil dripping all over the ground, but it did help limit rust damage under there, and it would help lube your running board linkage. Since you can’t do it anymore, I would think an application of good quality bearing grease on the points of movement would be helpful and last longer than light weight oil.

Try “Plumber’s Grease” or “Marine Grease.”

An expensive toy just asking for trouble.

Clean and lubricated is all you can hope for.
knowing that, you may be the one we see at the car wash when it is currently snowing and forcast for more…just to keep it clean enough to work right.
Try those other lubes suggested here as well.