Car rack failure

I remember seeing a number of threads in the past year about factory racks failing on the highway. I’ve checked the archives for “factory racks” “rack failure” and just “failure” with no luck. We’re taking a long (20+ hour) car trip with 3 kayaks on the biggest car we can rent and need to decide between a few options, one of which relies on the factory racks of a Ford Explorer to keep our well secured kayaks on the roof.

Can anyone either point me back to the right thread or give an opinion on the viability of the factory rack to hold 3 kayaks (2 brit boats and a plastic one).

Thanks for any help,


Ford Escape
I have a Ford Escape with factory bars on it. I connect my Malone J Cradles to it and carry my 40lb Arctic Hawk quite easily.

However, I read in my manual that the factory rack should never be loaded with more than 100lbs.

Looks like that means you can carry one of your Brit boats, anyway!

Many people carry several kayaks on all sorts of vehicles.

No one will tell you that it is OK to do so, especially the auto manufactures. Due to rollover issues and liability there is usually around a 100lb. limit.

BTW, there has been so many lawsuits involving Ford Explorers that U- Haul will not rent you a trailer if you are pulling it with an Explorer.

Definately use bow and stern tiedowns. A friend has a Honda Odyssey, and we put three kayaks on his Yakima rack for a 400+ mile road trip. All was fine, but we took extra time to make sure everything was secure along with checking everything over at stops along the drive.

I think checking the rack along the way is very important. I have a VW which uses clips that slide into the doorframe, and they started to work loose on my recent trip of the same length. Without checking and without bow and stern tiedowns, we might have had a bad end to the trip…

Yakima and Thule - ok
I think that the real concern isn’t about those racks, but about the factory rack on the Ford Explorer. Those have lots of flex in them and are nowhere near as stiff and strong as Yakima or Thule racks. Tiedowns definitely help lock things down, but I wonder how much more “weight” firmly tightened tiedowns add to the real weight of the load? When you hit a bump at freeway speeds, something has got flex if the tiedowns are tight, and that would be the boat itself or the “factory rack”.

I miss my Thule racks…


– Last Updated: Aug-26-05 7:55 AM EST –

The 2005 factory rack is better than the older models. It is rated at 200 lbs.

I have a Thule mounted on the factory rack and routinely haul 2 heavy canoes.


Lucky for me then
I rented a U-haul several times with my 91 Explorer in the mid-late 90s. Lucky for me I rolled it and totaled it in 1999, before Uhaul came out with that rule!

Bow & Stern tie believer!

I became a “True Believer” in bow and stern lines when carrying boats with Yakima racks on my 4-Runner. I had gotten a bit careless about those bow and stern lines on short hauls around home, but was more meticulous on a recent 500-mile trip with two boats on the roof. At the first gas stop, I walked around checking boats, tiedowns, and tires and was shocked to notice that I had never snapped down the closers on the forward rack. The forward rack was simply resting on the cradles. I had been driving around 75 mph and could only imagine the lifting forces generated by the boats. Fortunately, the two bow lines held the boats down. I always take the time to tie bow and stern now.