Step notch vs c notch

Step Notch Vs C Notch: A Detailed Comparison

Planning to notch your truck to improve its handling capacity, but you need to know what type of notch to use? Worry not. We will help compare a step notch and a C notch you can install on your truck.

A C notch is a notch cut into the frame of your truck to provide additional clearance of the rear axle without actually lowering the truck. On the other hand, a step notch involves cutting a whole section on the frame rail and replacing it with a step notch with cross bars to hold it in position.

This article reviews the main comparison aspects of step notch vs C notch suspension types. It will also discuss how they are installed in relation to increasing the suspension travel of your trucks.

Step Notch Vs C Notch: Quick Summary

Below is a quick overview of the main distinguishing factors between step notch and C notch. Read through if you are in a hurry and don’t have ample time to read the rest of the article.

Comparison AspectsStep NotchC Notch
DesignGoes on top of the frame to be notchedCuts into the frame the shape of C
PreferenceWhen in need of lowering and bagging the truckPreferred only when lowering the frame rails with minimal bagging
Strength and durabilityStronger and much more reliableLess strong
Level of clearanceUp to six inchesUp to four inches

Step Notch Vs C Notch: A Detailed Comparison

Notching your truck gives additional suspension travel for the rear axle. It enables the lowering of the car without having the suspension ‘sit down’ on the axle.

To distinguish these two notching methods, let’s look at the following aspects.


The step notch allows for extra travel for the rear suspension by raising the frame rail above the axle wheel. The step notch is visible as it protrudes to the top of the frame with a blunt V-shape underside.

On the other hand, a C notch is designed by cutting a cylindrical gap on the bottom of the frame rail to allow for suspension travel. This method has no protrusion on top of the frame, but at most times, the top side of the frame is left intact.

Level Of Clearance

The level of clearance is determined by the size of the wheels your vehicle is running on. Mostly, the 18”, which is common for most trucks, requires a standard clearance of 4 inches.

A C notch has limited clearance for the rear axle as the design only allows the notch to reside within the width of the frame rail. The C notch usually offers a clearance of between 2 – 4 inches.

However, a step notch can provide a better and larger clearance of between 3 – 6” as the notch has a freeway on the top.

Strength And Durability

The step notch is much stronger than the C notch due to the reinforcement and angle of design. With a higher clearance, the step notch is more reliable for operating under heavy bagging than the C-notched trucks.

Step notch vs c notch

Both methods are equally durable depending on how well they were installed and maintained.

Process Of Notching A Truck Frame

Before cutting out frames and welding notches, make sure you have the following tools and equipment to make your work easier.

The initial steps for both step and C notch are similar. Follow these steps regardless of what type of notching you want to fix.

  • Step 1: Get your vehicle/truck into the garage of a safe house and ensure the vehicle is off
  • Step 2: Remove the back cabin using a spanner to loosen the bolts. Get some help to load the back cabin off
  • Step 3: Jerk the vehicle and support it with solid support. Loosen the bolts holding the rear wheels and remove the wheels for clear working space
  • Step 4: Make measurements according to the type of notch you want to install. You can have pre-welded notches from the mechanic store that will fit in your frame rail.

Check out the table below for various price ranges.

Type And Design Of NotchPrice Range ($)
Welded Step notch with cross bars350 – 400
Welded step notch with no cross bars200 – 250
Unwelded step notch (no cross bars)140 – 250
C notch with all accessories140 – 370

Sometimes, you can save costs by welding your notch from pieces of metal in your garage. Now you can fix your preferred notch using the following step-by-step process.

How Do You C Notch a Truck Frame?

For a bolted C notch,

  • Step 1: Trace the C notch on the frame rail using a marker pen. Take note of the holes on the notch and then trace the outer edges
  • Step 2: Give an allowance to cater to the thickness of the notch
  • Step 3: Cut the notch off the frame using a grinder or cutting machine to achieve a satisfactory result. Repeat the steps for both frames on the rear axle
  • Step 4: Bolt the C notch plate on the groove and ensure a tight fix. Use a soldering gun to weld the notch into the groove for the welding C notch.

Since the process is complex and time-consuming, you can check the following video for C-notching for a better visual. 

How Do You Step Notch a Truck Frame?

Step notches require welding. Use the steps below to fix a step notch on your truck.

  • Step 1: Identify the point at which the notch will be fixed perpendicularly above the axle. Ensure proper alignment using a lever. Repeat the procedure for both sides of the frame
  • Step 2: Cut the frame to allow space for the step notch to be fixed
  • Step 3: Weld the step notch into the groove, ensuring precision on both sides
  • Step 4: You can reinstall the wheels and test your truck with increased suspension travel.

Watch the video below on how to install a step notch. 


Below are some of the frequently asked questions about step notch vs. C notch.

Q: Which Is Better, Between A Step Notch And A C Notch?

The answer to this question is pegged on one’s clearance preference. However, a step notch is stronger and offers a higher frame clearance than the C notch.

Q: Which Is Better To Go With, A Weld Or Bolted Notch?

Both methods work well when done right. Welding requires skills and precision to ensure a strong fix that will not break when bagged.

On the other hand, bolted notches are preferred if you plan on making more changes.


Step notch and C notch are commonly used to provide clearance of the rear axle of your truck for easy handling. The process involves the removal of parts of the original frame rail and reinforcing it with a C or step notch. For a stronger and higher clearance, use a step notch and ensure proper joint welding.

Remember that the process needs to be done with great precision, especially when cutting out pieces and welding or bolting the notches back. Mistakes in the process can lead to fatal consequences that can be expensive to repair.

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