Van Build: Sliding Door Step Removal

Taking the time to properly clean your van before you cover it all up is advisable. X amount of years of dirt and random stuff can cause a lot of damage over time, so it's best to do some preventative maintenance. Next up is our Sprinter sliding door side step... let's see what hidden 'gems' it had.

Written By Freedom Strider

On October 23, 2019

Turns out 5 years worth of dirt and stuff really causes some damage to the sliding door mechanism, so we decided to give it a clean and rust protect it whilst we were under there.


Finding the bolt covers

VW and Mercedes don’t make it easy to get things off – starting with actually finding the bolt holes. We managed to locate our screw bolt covers, camouflaged in with our plastic step cover (see picture).

A flat head screwdriver might be enough to lever them up. On ours, since that failed, we screwed a normal screw into the plastic and got a pair of pliers to pull up and pop the bolt covers out. 🥂

There were 5 to remove in the step, and one in a circular bolt cover.


Torx Bolts out, step out

Since we couldn’t fit the Torx Allen Key in the hole, we had to trust the Torx screwdriver would a) reach and b) the bolts wouldn’t be too tight.


a) It reached. b) We managed to get them loose. 😅

The second bolt from the left was a lot longer than the rest, and the hole was not in line with the others, probably to stop you from putting the long bolt in the wrong hole. Out came the step and oh boy was there a mess…


🕷️ be wary of spiders 🕷️

We decided not to break the hoover and instead removed all the large parts first. Nuts, pens, rocks, spider carcasses, nails, screws – you name it, we found it. We even found a giant live spider too (which Sam screamed at).

We then got the hoover in and got around 50% of the remaining dirt out. But that didn’t satisfy us. 😔

Therefore, we got some cheap toothbrushes, scrubbed everywhere we could reach with water and dish soap. Then we used the garden hose to blast the whole area with water until we saw no more dirt.


There is an electrical cable that runs through under the step. Before you go blasting it with water, its best to disconnect it, wrap each side in a plastic bag, and tie it with elastic bands or sandwich ties. Oh and make sure you don’t have the ignition on either or it will cost you £40 to reset a warning light. 🤦‍♀️

This worked pretty well and we got no warning lights on our dashboard after.


Rust protection

Having cleaned everything, we found areas that were beginning to rust, especially around the bolt holes. Instead of leaving them (which would have resulted in rust holes a few years down the line), we got out the Hammerite paint and covered all the rust we saw.

Hammerite is a rust primer and protector, so it stops rust from spreading and primes the surface so when it dries, you can paint on top of it.


Clean the step

We cleaned the step as best we could.

Unfortunately, the colour still turned our grey and dusty. So, we got the spray paint and doused it in glossy black paint – probably not using the right technique but it turned out great.

We are going to put carpet over this area but for now, it looks better than what it was.


Play Tetris 🎮

Putting the step back on is not as easy as taking it out. Once everything was dry we clipped the electrical cable back together.

Then we battled and played Tetris whilst trying to get the step back in over the door mechanism.

The trick is to fit the tooth of the step between the back metal and the door chain, whilst also getting the door roller wheel into the groove on the step. (watch video)

It takes a few tries.

quick look

Quick Steps Overview:


  1. Remove bolt covers with pliers
  2. Unbolt Torx bolts and remove the step
  3. Clean the underneath and rust protect with Hammerite
  4. Clean + paint step (optional)
  5. Reattach step carefully