Factory or after market racks?

I have been using thule J craddles on my Grand Caravan factory racks. Someone recently mentioned that these factory racks arn’t very reliable. Should I think about investing in the Thule racks or am I good to go with the factory racks? I’ve travelled short distances and have made a 100 mile trip so far w/o a problem.

Experiences? Opinions?


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I’d call BS but I don’t know the chrysler van. But I’ve used factory racks on a nissan, toyota and subaru and none have ever failed me.

I have never had a problem
with factory racks on any vehicle that had them (4runner, forester, mazda station wagon). The J-cradles do put more stress on racks than other types of saddles/cradles.

Check the bars to see if there is any denting or bending happening. Also check to see if the bars/rails are loose.

Which part of the rack?

– Last Updated: Jun-05-07 11:59 AM EST –

It's often the factory crossbars which are pretty flimsy, while the actual rack anchors aren't too bad. Yakima or Thule racks will usually attach to the anchors (or maybe the siderails, but the anchors are better), giving you the same attachment to the car as the factory rack but with crossbars that are actually made to carry a load. Look at the way your factory crossbars attach to the siderails. It may be hard to see in there where the attachment is made, but it might nothing more than some tiny sheetmetal clips. That's the part that can let go. I think most factory cross bars are built to slide forward or backward against a storage box, but they are usually not built to carry much weight. That said, "flimsy" connections can be a lot harder to pull loose than it would appear. I prefer a rack that doesn't have a lot of "give", but maybe that's just me.

depenjds on the make

– Last Updated: Jun-05-07 12:02 PM EST –

My subaru crossbars flex no more than my old thules.

Automakers are playing CYA by putting low weight restrictions on the rack crossbars. Many are perfectly capable of supporting adequate weight.

My only horse in this race is that I think thule and yakima make great stuff but are extortionist.

I won’t buy a vehicle unless
I can outfit it with Yakama racks.

I mix and match, saddles, cradles, bike carriers, ski racks, gunnel brackets and stackers.

I guess Thule or Malone is just as good.

My factory racks that came with my Escape are in the attic.

Just my take.



“thule and yakima make great stuff BUT ARE EXTORTIONISTS.”

depends on car
We mounted Thule J racks to the factory crossbars of our old Grand Cherokee and after a long trip to Georgia were horrified to find one cross bar had broke off the track and was only being held together by the kayaks. My Subaru crossbars were really strong but we couldn’t get more than two kayaks up there and only then if we used j racks and we now prefer the Thule Slipstreams. So we installed the longer Thule crossbars and the foot thingie that holds the bars onto the Subaru rails and it’s rock solid. And yeah…why are the prices of Thule and Yakima so darn high?

Yakima and Thule are sturdier
But if your factory rack is holding it securely than spend your money on something else. If you end up buying multiple boats or other toys you might want to carry on your car, you may some day decide to invest in a sturdier rack. I should own stock in Yakima. I’ve carried every possible assortment of bikes and kayaks and cargo on my rack. It has been worth every penny.

I had a factory rack failure

– Last Updated: Jun-06-07 2:22 AM EST –

I had a catastrophic failure on my '95 Ford Windstar van. I had Thule cross bars (they were fine, in fact they were still attached to the boat), it was the factory rails that failed. I’m pretty sure that bow and stern lines might have prevented this incident as they would have held the boat in place better.

For what it’s worth, I also have a '05 Grand Caravan that seems to have a much better rack than my old Windstar – I don’t use the factory crossbars on my Caravan – I promptly replaced the flimsy crossbars with a set of Yakima’s.

You can read about my experience here:




No doubt. I recently ordered a set of Thule Top Deck Saddles (you know the $85 set of four). When I opened the package I couldn’t believe I paid that kind of money for four pieces of plastic. They went back. I’ll figure something else out.

Factory or after market racks?
They are bandits! I just bought the thule 815 J craddle for $105. but haven’t opened them, thinking they may go back. I already have the 835 hull a port ($115).